“Boundaries Between Genres Annihilated”

Source engine, huh? I'd never have guessed...

So claims Nuclear Dawn (a name that immediately makes me think of Nuclear Winter’s theme from Freedom Force- skip to about 1m10 in), a bold, Source-engine powered RTS/FPS hybrid. It’s a document of a post-nanotechnology war in Earth’s near-future, and claims to be “the first game to offer a full FPS and RTS experience without crippling or diluting either side of the game.” If you succeed in annihilating the boundary in the post, you’ll find the first trailer for it below.

And here’s an official summary:

“…a first glimpse in the war-torn world of post-conflict Earth, where two embittered factions of good men are blinded by hatred for their fellow survivors, and battle over the remnants of Earths great cities, for resources, survival, and revenge.

With compelling RTS and FPS gameplay elements, Nuclear Dawn delivers tactical, class-based gameplay that will let players sneak around the ruins of mans greatest accomplishments with Stealth units, or just crush the rubble underfoot with the powerhouse Exo walking tank. Tomorrows generals will take the Commanders seat, and support their fellow players with outposts, defensive structures and fortresses to protect precious resource points.

From nanotech-enhanced blades to portable siege weapons, the arsenal of Nuclear Dawn is no less impressive than its tactical gameplay options, and mastering the use of each weapon will yield true supremacy on the battlefield. The game is powered by Valve’s Source engine.”

While the descriptions are all a bit broad for now, there’s a healthy whack of extra information on the official site – including an amusingly detailed timeline of the events leading from the present day to this future war. Commit it to memory, for there’ll be a test in the morning.

The studio behind it are first time devs and modders gone pro Interwave, who seem just a mite bitter about Nuclear Dawn’s origins…

“When the original team behind Nuclear Dawn moved on to the greener pastures of commercial game development at Dice, Grin and all those other fat corporate jobs, Interwave Studios was just applying the last licks of paint to their Last Stand Stargate mod.”

Ah yes, the fat corporate jobs of Grin. That worked out well, huh? The Stargate mod remains unfinished, but they are looking for helpful folk to sort it out for them. Possibly a good opportunity for any experienced modders reading…

Anyway, ND’s a tasty wee concept – though attempts to blend RTS with other genres haven’t always gone well, unless paired with a mega-budget – a la Dawn of War 2. The immediate thought when RTS-FPS is mentioned is C&C Renegade’s multiplayer, or more positively Natural Selection, but this seems rather more squad-based than that: i.e. RTS-FPS rather than FPS-RTS. Or something. Best of luck to these chaps, and hopefully they’ll have more to show us soon.


  1. AiglosCelt says:

    I haven’t really been taken with any rts/fps since the original Savage (which I still play the shit out of). Looks like it could be interesting, but I’m not holding my breath >:

  2. postmanX3 says:

    Art style looks horribly generic, and there’s already five thousand other RTS/FPS mods. (Natural Selection is pretty much the only, GOOD one, but still…)

    That being said, the trailer looked fairly professional (despite it being filter-[cuddled] to hell and back), and that’s always a good sign. I’ll keep an eye on this one.

  3. D says:

    First Real Person Time Shooter Strategy? Real First Time Person Strategy Shooter?
    But, I like boundaries.. And if they really had something special, I’d imagine they’d have shown it off in the trailer.

  4. IAT says:

    Reminded me of the Empires mod.

    • Stromko says:

      That was my first thought. They didn’t even show any vehicles in the trailer, and Empires has customizable vehicles. How can you have an RTS without vehicles nowadays, or an FPS without tweakable class-kits?

      It’s too early to judge Nuclear Dawn, it’s clearly rather early in development, but if they talk a big game they have to show something to back it up. As far as I can tell from the teaser trailer, there’s no reason to think this is any less diluted than a typical RTS/FPS hybrid.

  5. Alexander Norris says:

    They have the dubious honour of having the single worst subtitle I’ve ever seen, “Modern Combat Rising,” which manages to sound completely generic and a complete rip-off of the name of other games which may have come out recently (their marketing department must be particularly stupid to not have dropped that M-word).

    That, and prior to the buy-out Nuclear Dawn continually promised that it wasn’t vapourware, so I’ll continue to find anything put out by Interwave hilarious until ND is out and getting decent reviews.

  6. -Spooky- says:

    Nothing new since Natural Selection HL MOD

  7. Tei says:

    Empires, Tremulous, Natural Selection, the original Gloom mod for Quake 2.
    Hell.. Gloom is old, Is a 2001 mod.
    Even one can arguee that the ultimate RTS/FPS hibrid is the original QuakeWorld Team Fortress (1996).

    The RTS+FPS genre is rich, deep and *very old*. Is strange that there are still people claiming originality here. What this game adds? the ability to spawn turrets?

  8. Dave says:

    I’m just waiting for a decent 4X PBEM FPS/physics-based city-building puzzle text adventure. Is that too much to ask?

    • Jad says:

      Huh? I’ve been playing Call of Goo ZorkCity:Dread Lords for a couple of months now. Not bad, but I preferred Knights of the Old Jagged Gears 1942: Torment more.

    • Tei says:

      CRAZY, but what you comment already exist!!. Do you remenber that game with “tanks” tha play somewhat like Worms, but turn based, is 3D, and is integrated in the browser? It can be played by mail.

    • DMJ says:

      @Jad: EA just called, they want to buy both those intellectual properties you made up.

  9. Richyrich says:

    Q: ” Will there be a single player campaign?”
    A: “To be determined.”

    So probably no then. In which case I won’t be spending any money on it.

  10. Lachlan says:

    Reminds me of Battlezone 1, or Uprising before that. Not that this is a /bad/ thing – it’s nice to see FPS/RTS hybrids back. Hopefully they’ll do better commercially this time.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, I wondered if I had fallen into a parallel universe where the Battlezone series didn’t exist.

    • Yargh says:

      @Lachlan & CapGen

      I suspect that there are a few people who hated Battlezone enough to try and pretend that it never existed.
      I rather enjoyed them myself…

  11. Railick says:

    The problem with Hybrid RTS/FPS games is that if the RTS commander on your team sucks you’re pretty much going to lose no matter how good of an FPS gamer you are :( For me it is just a bad idea all around. I’d rather have a hybrid tactical command/fps where one player is the tactical commander but doesn’t really do anything but order other players around (so they can ignore him if he’s a fool) When your weapons/armor/skills and abilities depend on another person there is always the very real risk that person is going to suck and you’re going to die. At the same time I’d really LOVE to be the RTS commander but I can never bring myself to do it because I don’t want to learn while my friends die because of my foolish tactics.

    • Shalrath says:

      I figure the best way is to make the AI the leader. Sounds dumb at first, but what would be more realistic than being a private in a foxhole and having an uncaring, cold, calculating overseer determine which machine gun nest to throw you at?

      Plus, it’d make a cool backstory.

    • Shalrath says:

      “The Empire crushes the individuality of its subjects for the greater good. Sporting the largest population centres on the planet, the Empire is a relentless machine of subjugation hellbent on ensuring that no other creed survives the age of the Nuclear Dawn.

      The Consortium of Free States, on the other hand, stand for personal freedom and individuality, and highly value their units and troops’ lives. They may lack both the numbers and crushing precision of the imperial war machine, but their determination burns brighter than any atomic fire.”

      Gee, I wonder which one is the more preferred by the team…

    • DJ Phantoon says:


      Obviously Empire, as they are a hive mind.

    • Marshall says:

      I think a solution might lie in tying a player’s Commander eligibility to the leaderboard, or at least some sort of previous successes. As in, you get a chance to play Commander to start out, and if you severely blow it, it becomes more difficult to get a leadership role (or a role commanding the more collectively successful players – what’s the harm putting an inept leader in charge of inept soldiers?). Or something like this model.

      Of course, anyone who paid for the game would be furious if it limited them from playing a key role, so this might only work in a free game such as these mods.

      Anyone else think this could work / is totally unfair / sucks and is a horseshit idea?

    • Funky Badger says:

      Marshall: that’s totally unrealistic – some of the finest wars in history have been commanded by dolts…

    • Starky says:

      More to the point in any commading role in games, from Natural Selection to ARMA 2, the only way you learn to command is by losing, and losing and losing, until you begin to suck less.

      No, all the game needs is a fair voting system.

      A mistake Natural Selection made was allowing people to vote out the commander, problem is that left no commander at all, and a noob at the helm is better than no one at all.

      A voting system that only allows the commander to be replaced by another player, rather than simply removed would be best, ARMA 2 sort of does this (just with a AI option also).

  12. Reverend Speed says:

    Music is awesome, though. Bombastic, much?

  13. underproseductor says:

    The idea and setting are nothing new, It’s been done before. So yeah, looks generic. I hope they prove me wrong, though.

  14. Nobody Important says:

    So this is what the Tremulous team is going for their 1.2 release.

  15. Bromite says:

    So… when did it become commonplace for videos of even slight bits of gameplay to be torn apart by “Stylisticly” making it seem like they recorded this with a shitty camera?

  16. Lack_26 says:

    I’ve been following this mod for a looong time now, which is hard, considering the long periods of media silence that you get.

  17. marshall says:

    I know there MUST be solution to the poor commanders issue out there. Do any of these hybrid games tie your ability to play as commander to the leaderboard or some sort of reputation system? it seems that limiting who can be a commander based on past success would be an ideal way to keep the most players happy – and something a commercial release probably couldn’t pull off for allegations of unfairness.

    • Tei says:

      Gloom and Tremulous don’t have (need?) the commander. There are a “builder class”, so is all to the builder where to build the stuff (armory, turrets, reactor, spawnpads, etc..).
      I don’t remenber Empire to have a commander, maybe have one, but I have fond memories of building walls and placing turrets. The commander problem seems a Natural Selection problem, I think all other RTS-FPS hibrids have other problems.

    • Catastrophe says:

      Yeah Natural Selections Kharaa did not use a commander, they had a builder class, yet in NS2 they are gonna make both teams have a commander :(

  18. Railick says:

    There is some crazy arse console game coming out , I can’t remember what it is called but it has an entire chain of commander where you start off as a grunt and work your way up and the highest level player is in command of each army and there are like 50 players on each team. I have no idea what it is called any more but I saw a podcast about it last year and it blew me away. It’s like Battlefield 2 on Gorilla juice.

  19. Railick says:

    Savage had the commander problem a great deal. In that game the commmander had to harvest resources and build things, upgrade weapons ect No matter how good the players are if the commander sucks and the other commander is good everything is against you (As you can only select certain classes/weapons to start off with. When the other team starts to get siege weapons and powerful classes/weapons you’re in trouble) I dunno if Savage 2 was any better :)

  20. TeeJay says:

    One kind of mechanism for commanders would be a kind of ‘resource’ whereby the better someone played the more ‘credits’ they accumulated, and then these could be dished out either as ‘bots’/’turrets’/vehicles/other battlefield assets (which team members would naturally use, follow or stay near) or ammunition, special weapons, specialised equipment and intel they could dish out to team members (if they stayed ‘on-mission’). Weaker team members would naturally want to stay ‘on mission’ so they get given more resources and stay alive longer, as might stronger ones. Conversely if a few team members were good enough they could head off independently and if successful would accumulate ‘resource credits’, becoming ‘commanders’… so everyone would have the *potential* to have an overhead strategic view, construct and suggest a plan of attack to the rest of the team, but only if they accumulated enough credits to unlock the necessary assets and intel, and were able to provide the ‘funds’ to attract and outfit weaker players.

  21. Paxeh says:

    After 3 years of hype as a mod through static renders posed as realtime gameplay and now it’s re-emergence as a commercial product I still have a bad taste when it comes to Nuclear Dawn.

    Their history isn’t well known outside of the more dedicated half-life 2 community link to halflife2.net and that is something I regret. I am not one of completely downing a product on it’s history; but personally, knowing their history, I really feel like I’d warn people of this product.

    As a mod it was badly managed and extremely poorly run, as an actual commercial product I have no real postive feeling.

    Those saying that it’s “too early” to judge Nuclear Dawn missed the above mentioned drama and PR in the last couple of years – people I totally refrain from judging. But, and this is a big but, this thing HAS a history which is swept under a carpet. And sadly I’m allergic to said carpet.

    • Crispy says:

      We all know what else it is you prefer to carpet, Pax. No need to drone on about it.

  22. lumberjack_wannabe says:

    Is shaky/shitty camera part of this genre “annihilation”?

  23. EthZee says:

    Groundbreaking? There have been many RTS/FPS hybrids before, especially titles and mods on the Source engine, even commercial titles. These guys need to get a grip.


    • JB says:

      Cheers Eth, looks great. Downloading demo as I type this!

    • Wilson says:

      EthZee: A good link. The Iron Grip mod for HL2 was good, but suffered from lag quite a bit (I don’t think the source engine is ideal for anything with too much AI in multiplayer?) though it was fun. Warlord is I think a very nice game assuming you aren’t insistent on super-modern graphics. Though I don’t think there is too much of a player population, it’s a shame since it is a good game.

    • Bhazor says:

      Just had a quick pop at that. Very fun and very cheap.

      This article which until now was just pr fluff has become justified.

  24. 1stGear says:

    Between the totally-not-bitter-guys “fat corporate jobs” comment, the claims of “genre annihilation”, and the less than approving mentions from other commentators here, I suspect this is less a revolution in RTS-FPS hybrid and more a bunch of indie mod-makers who’s heads have gotten all swelled up.

  25. Nerd Rage says:

    Ground Control, anyone?

  26. Generico says:

    I didn’t see anything RTS in that trailer. Deployable turrets do not an RTS make.

    That said, I’m a fan of any game with “Exo walking tanks”.

  27. Wulf says:


    …gah, damn you Alec! Damn you to… oh, i don’t know. Skegness will have to do. I’ve got that going around in my head, now. It’s not something I’ll likely shift easily.

  28. Hulk Hogan says:

    Savage with guns

  29. The_Biz says:

    I think the 7th fundamental theorem of gaming says it’s impossible to make a FPS that doesn’t dilute the RTS component of games

  30. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Wow – I remember following this several years ago when it was still a mod and it had a map made by the guy from littlelostpoly which was possibly the most awesome piece of home mapping I have ever seen in my life. That’s now being used for something else (presumably the commercial people didn’t want to pay him for his work), but I forget what.

    So it’s a mod thats gone commercial and it’s developers are bitching about modders who stopped modding to go commercial? Wat?

  31. Schmung says:

    What Paxeh said. Their history is..not the best shall we say. Lots and lots of hype, lots of pretties, but very little in the way of actual results. This quote in particular :

    “When the original team behind Nuclear Dawn moved on to the greener pastures of commercial game development at Dice, Grin and all those other fat corporate jobs, Interwave Studios was just applying the last licks of paint to their Last Stand Stargate mod.”

    is fairly disingenuous from what I understand of the situation.

  32. Rob Hale says:

    Rubbish trailer is Rubbish.

  33. dartt says:

    For those too lazy to find the 1:10 mark in that youtube video: deeeeep link.

  34. Ergates says:

    Ah yes, thankyou. I was trying to remember the name the game that matched “first game to offer a full FPS and RTS experience without crippling or diluting either side of the game” I kept getting stuck on Battlefield, which clearly wasn’t right.

  35. KindredPhantom says:

    @Paxeh. Yes, the mod has had a lot of bad PR, mostly due to the person doing the PR. I think it is good that the past drama of Nuclear Dawn the mod to be swept under the carpet so that Nuclear Dawn the game can get a fresh start and be judged as a game by a different group of people. Bringing up the history serves no purpose, i have no idea how it “warns” people. Lot’s of mod’s have history not all good but it doesn’t mean you should judge a game upon it’s previous history by an entirely different team.
    I have been a keen follower of the mod for a number of years, i was disappointed when i discovered the mod was basically dead but i was glad when Interwave picked it up. All the years of work on it won’t go to waste. And yes, it has been worked on calling it vapour-ware is amusing but not a fact. I do agree that the teaser trailer is not that good nor is the subtitle “Modern Combat Rising”, but i am willing to overlook these things if the end product is a decent and fun game. All i say is wait for the end product, reserve judgment until you can play it for yourselves and ignore the previous history as it isn’t relevant and is only used to throw mud at the game and those who are working on it.

  36. Vengeance Orbs says:

    The music in that trailer was so epic that I zoned out and just used my imagination.

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