First Look at Nuclear Dawn

Oh Lord!  Not another….

  1. Post-Apocalyptic Game?
  2. Multiplayer Class-Based Shooter?
  3. Attempt to Blend FPS/RTS Elements?
  4. Valve/Source MOD Turned Commercial Project?
Without even looking at screenshots or gameplay footage, I’ve just listed four reasons why you should be skeptical about Nuclear Dawn, the upcoming release from Interwave Studios.  Of course, I should be drinking less soda, eating less red meat, and excercizing a lot more, so should you really be skeptical about this game, despite the track record of other games to make those claims?

From Humble Beginnings…

Of course, you must know that most Source engine MODs that have turned to commercial projects, have done very well, so if any of my previously mentioned points were a little off, that would be the one.  Let us remember the likes of Team Fortress and Counter-Strike, among others.  Another reason to believe in this game is the team behind it – Interwave Studios.  They aren’t a studio, sequestered in the cubicles of an anti-republic empire of a corporation, they are a band of gamers who started out fighting cheaters and designing mods.  I think recent history has more than proven that small studios and independent developers have a large place in our hearts and digital libraries.  If you would like to see their previous work, fire up that old copy of Half-Life 2 and download the cool Stargate : The Last Stand mod they made, here.

Standing Out In The Crowd

As you can tell, from the top of the article, Nuclear Dawn is a class-based, multiplayer FPS, using RTS elements, and taking place in a post-apocalyptic setting.  Nuclear Dawn takes place in 2049, and sees the post-Third World War Earth fighting under two banners-the Empire or the Consortium.  Players can choose one of four classes, Exo, Assault, Stealth and Support.  Exo is your heavy weapons tank, and the rest are pretty self-explanatory.  However, each class offers it’s own custom loadouts, that can drastically change the area of effectiveness of that person.  Stealth can choose the SMG based Assassin loadout, or the safe distance of a Sniper kit.  Likewise, the Support class comes in both engineer and medic flavors.  Exo class loadouts are heavy on firepower for not just human targets, but structural ones as well.  The more jaw-dropping twist comes, not in the ease of customization in the game’s classes, but the incorporation of an RTS Commander.  Each team has a Commander, who may be voted off the nuclear winter island, if he fails to perform to his team’s liking.  The Commander watches the battlefield from a typical, top-down, RTS perspective, and uses research points, gained by the FPS combatants, to build and fortify the team’s portion of the map.  The Commander also helps unlock the various class loadouts not available at the onset of the match.  He sees everything taking place in the battle, in real-time, and can react accordingly.  He must balance reacting to the action alongside managing the structures and power grids to most effectively manage resources and keep his troops well supported.  It’s a grueling job that I don’t envy, myself, usually choosing to fight it out on the field.

Good In Theory?

Of course, Nuclear Dawn sounds mind-blowing on paper, but how does it work, in practice, and in Beta?  In a word – Awesome!  Fans of the podcast know my extremely finicky taste for multiplayer shooters; if it’s not objective based and interesting enough to keep my interest, I am usually not going to find much lasting pleasure.  Nuclear Dawn takes some of the strategic, structure/turret elements of Monday Night Combat, and makes them gritty, raw and more intense.  Finding a match with a good Commander, makes the game that much more enjoyable.  I had been in a match, where I thought the Commander was doing a fair job, we got hammered from the start and he was scrambling to make up what he could, yet votes to demote him kept popping up.  You have the ability to apply for Commander, but a vote from your team may be tough to sway.  Putting the structural and research tasks, in the hands of the Commander, does more than just add RTS elements and depth to the game, it allows the soldiers to keep their focus on the tasks at hand-fighting and capturing points-rather than trying to attempt a steep balancing act.

I am having a great time playing in the Beta, and it gives me hope that all this beta time will just make the finished product that much more awesome.  The shooting mechanics feel great and the weapons and loadouts are perfectly up my alley, I love being able to just pick a kit, rather than have to tweak my own custom weapon sets.  Using the seconds between spawns to change kits and spawn locations is really all the time you need to make key adjustments for your team’s changing objectives.  The final game features six maps, and supports up to 32 player matches.  The three maps in the beta are quite a bit of fun, but I’m looking forward to the elusive ones not yet available.  Also teased in a ranking system, weapon unlocks and of course, Steam achievements.  Given the enjoyment I’ve had in the beta, my appetite has certainly been whet for everything Interwave has tucked away in it’s post-apocalyptic vault.  I’d love to say that Nuclear Dawn is a “diamond in the rough”, but I think it more appropriate to call it a “cache of nuka cola caps in a radiated wasteland”.  If you still want to jump into the wasteland in beta, you can do so by pre-ordering the game, on Steam, for $22.49, discounted from the full price of $24.99.  The game is set to launch on September 25th, for more information prior to that, check out the game’s homepage at  If you prefer seeing the game in motion, I highly recommend checking out Interwave’s YouTube Channel and their tutorial videos, which can be found on here(specifically, check the ones for Commander UI and Resource Points).


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