Boo! Natural Selection 2 Free To Play This Weekend

Halloween is an extra-special time of year for sci-fi FPS-RTS Natural Selection, as the birthday of both the original Half-Life mod and its standalone commercial sequel [official site]. In celebration, developers Unknown Worlds have opened up NS2 for the weekend and let everyone play for free. Battling aliens, knee deep in bacterial gunk, or chomping on the juicy heads of space marines seems fittingly frightful Halloween fun.

If you bop on over to Steam you can download NS2 and play the whole thing free for the weekend. I’ve not played in yonks myself so I was surprised to see it’s a lot slicker and has more tutorial bits now, which is good considering how intimidating NS2 can be.

Natural Selection, see, is an FPS-RTS between two quite different factions. You’re both trying to wipe each other out, following the plan and commands of your team’s ‘Commander’ player, by securing resources, denying areas to enemies and… it’s the complexity of an RTS with the exciting unpredictability of every unit being a player. There’s a lot to learn but it can be proper great. I know the first NS way more than NS2, as 2 was a bit rocky at launch, but I have heard from chums who stuck it out that NS2 has found its form more.

NS2 has another spooky Halloween surprise coming too. Today will bring a new mode, The Infested, via the game’s Steam Workshop. The teaser image is awfully The Thing-y.

Here’s what the devs say about it:

“You have been dispatched to deal with a dangerous pathogen which has been detected within a remote TSF outpost. Race to repair the air filtration system before the pathogen corrodes it too severely and the air becomes overwhelmed by infectious spores. But watch out, one of your teammates has already been infected!”

If you dig the free weekend and want NS2 for keepsies, it’s half price right now – down to £3.49/4,99€/$4.99.


  1. Hunchback says:

    One of the best FPS ever, i wish it had more active players… I dropped it after a few years of play/trying to play since there’s never any servers active… sad :(

    • Stardog says:

      Stop spreading this nonsense. There’s always servers active at the usual times of day.

      • Boozebeard says:

        The real problem though, especially with games this skill based is that the people who are left are probably very good. I was a pretty decent level pub player for about a year and was really into watching all the competitive games too but the thought of trying to get back into it now isn’t very appealing frankly. This free weekend could of been a good opportunity but unfortunately I have super spooky events to attend.

        • PseudoKnight says:

          I thought this must be the case, but when I played a few games last month (extremely rusty) I ended up being the best player on my team. We had a lot of weak players. It might lack matchmaking that so many people rely on these days (i hate it) but the skill floor hasn’t risen.

  2. Wyzcrak says:

    Great article, especially the expectation management. Natural Selection is a demanding game, but it rewards you in spades.

    North America and Europe have multiple active and/or full servers every night. Server/community managers in other regions are working to grow NS2 there, too. This game’s development is ongoing with several releases in recent months.

    Recommendation to new NS2 players: eventually recognize a server that plays the game as you prefer it played, and play there often. The game, as good as it is out of the box, can be even better when played with and against friends who know each other and share preferences for how to play. This game rewards teamwork unlike any I’ve played, and the meta of defining with friends what shape “teamwork” will take among NS2’s sundry gameplay offerings is fantastic.

    Alternatively, Season 10 of the title’s competitive scene is currently underway. If you enjoy playing competitively, research more about that in the UWE or ENSL forums.

  3. ironhorse says:

    Once you try the Infested mode, Alice, you’ll absolutely get why the image reminds you of The Thing… ;)

    Extreme paranoia of your “friends” and the possibility of subversion is ripe.

  4. Hunchback says:

    And so i am now downloading NS2 again… :D

  5. PseudoKnight says:

    Good time to remind people about the “Rock Paper Skulk” Steam group, where community games are organized somewhat regularly on Mondays.

    I wonder if The Infested is anything like the other NS2 mod The Faded. It was a lot like a spookier The Hidden.

  6. Williz says:

    As good as ns2 it’s I still miss the activity and variety of ns1. Siege maps were the best thing ever.

    • PseudoKnight says:

      As much as I loved NS1 to death, siege maps were awful. :p To each his own.

      NS2 has variety too. Steam Workshop support is no joke. There are a lot of other things I miss about NS1, though.