If you played Natural Selection back in the day, you'll probably remember the Eclipse map, which according to its creators was "one of the greatest maps ever made for the original Half-Life mod". Well they would say that. Their enthusiasm appears to be genuine, however, as they've painstakingly updated Eclipse and incorporated it into the significantly prettier Natural Selection 2. In the spirit of jolly old St Nick, they've also released the damned thing for free. Launch NS2 on Steam and you should your game has been automagically updated with the new/old map, as part of the Build 262 patch. See Eclipse in all its corrugated sci-fi splendour below.
Subnautica, the new project revealed today by Natural Selection 2 developer Unknown Worlds Entertainment, has us looking below the surface. With an open-world ocean as its metaphorical sandbox, Subnautica sounds like an exploration experience that might not fit comfortably into some of the neat little categories we use so often when talking about games.
Crowdfunding. Everybody's at it these days, and I'll tell you precisely who when the remainder of this post has successfully reached its whopping 68p target. UPDATE: thanks! Everybody's crowdfunding, but not everybody is crowdfunding an international tournament to a particularly excellent RTS/shooter. Natural Selection 2 fans want $30,000 to make a World Championship happen. Developers Unknown Worlds have already blessed the enterprise, paying for a studio in Cologne and Twitch TV promotion - that just leaves the cost of getting everyone over there. $925 has been raised so far, so there's still a fair way to go.
Unknown Worlds have released a free expansion for their pus-filled strategy shooter Natural Selection 2. The Reinforced update bolsters the online FPS with, among other things, new weapons, traps, items and tutorials. It also adds DirectX 11, linux support and the long-awaited female marine model. While it will cost you zero pence to play the new content, that wasn't the case for those making it. In fact, the developers estimate that the expansion's creation cost them $550,000. As such, they're currently accepting crowdfunding donations to help them decide if future free content is feasible.
You would think that, of all times and all places, a future space war between aliens and humanity would be the last place you'd find people getting bashful about women serving in the military. I can't imagine screechy pterodactyls care which gender they're chewing on. If gooey bio-reptiles can get past these prejudices, can't we all? *Cue inspirational music* So it's good to see that Natural Selection 2 developer Unknown Worlds have announced the addition of a female marine, planned for an upcoming update to the multiplayer FPS strategy.
If you're thinking of buying Natural Selection 2 in the next few hours, you might want to hold off until 5PM UK time/1PM EDT, as the asymmetrical multiplayer RTS/shooter has been selected, naturally, to get a big fat 50% off Steam sale. For those that prefer to try before you die, there's going to be a nice long free weekend as well, with the weekend having been (seemingly) reclassified to include Thursday and Friday. Hey, I'm not complaining. Head here to reap the rewards, but be sure to check out the following action-heavy trailer before you depart, as Unknown Worlds have made it specially for the occasion. You can tell it's made with love, and not with pure molten hate, because it doesn't feature a single semi-quaver of dubstep.
Natural Selection 2 is about to get Gorgeous. No, the Kharaa haven't returned from a weekend spa retreat with full facelift and manicure. Instead, the update's title references Gorge tunnels - a new underground transport network the aliens can use to traverse the maps. You can see it in action in the latest trailer. It doesn't look pretty.
In Natural Selection 2's world of dark, metallic hallways and disgusting alien growths, calling the upcoming update "Gorgeous" might seem like a strange decision. Active players will know, however, that this refers to the Kharaa's pudgy little support unit, the Gorge, which is getting a few new tricks added to its globulous sacs. We're also getting a new map, Descent, previewed earlier in this dev post.
The very cool tones of Blues News bring word that Natural Selection 2 developers Unknown Worlds have released their 'Decoder' IDE - their Integrated Development Environment, or Thing Wot They Used To Program The Game - for free, taking the exciting decision to make it open source as well. The team created Decoder in 2007 using the programming language Lua, and until now they've been licensing it out to other developers, using the money to fund the company. Now that NS2 is out, Unknown Worlds have decided to not only remove the licensing fee but to open its innards to the public, with the intention of making it "the best IDE out there!"
Playing PlanetSide 2 is like being eight and riding a bike without holding on to the handlebars. Mum! Are you watching? Did you see that sniper shot? Were you watching when I jumped off the roof of that building, clamped C4 to a tank’s hull, jetpacked over a cliff edge, and pressed the detonator? Did you see the time I spawned a Liberator gunship and picked Chris up at a base south of a bio lab being taken by the New Conglomerate? He hopped in the gunner seat, mum, and together we destroyed the enemy’s only Sunderer! We blunted their advance mum! Mum! Are you still looking? Keep looking, mum, I’m going to do something cool now!
It’s taken almost a decade for the Natural Selection 2 developers to bond an FPS to an RTS and make it work. The original mod was fun, but this sequel is a wonderful one-off, where asymmetrical teams fight on the ground while a commander prompts and preps from above. And although 90% of its audience will be buying it for the shooter, like the rug in The Big Lebowski it’s the RTS that ties it all together.
Natural Selection 2 has a variety of playable aliens, an entire armoury of human weaponry, turrets, squidgy alien hives and floating disembodied commanders able to boss troops about but, somehow, it doesn't have mech suits. Yet. With much aplomb, the latest trailer tears the silver sheet off the hulking humanoid form of the Exosuit. It comes with two chain guns and air conditioning as standard, which is especially useful during those times in which you're on fire. In times of calm you can pop the hood to stare smugly down at your poorly armoured squad mates. In short, it's everything you'd probably want from a wearable war machine.
Find out more on the Natural Selection 2 site, and catch the trailer right here.
Making your own engine is no frivolous decision for a developer to make. It’s a guaranteed investment of years of your life. Already a year or two into creating Natural Selection 2, Unknown Worlds dropped Source in 2008 and began creating their own technology, a proprietary engine called Spark.
It’s certainly prolonged development of Natural Selection 2, which was announced in October of 2006. But one of the payoffs to this, says Hugh Jeremy, Outreach Manager at the studio, is that Unknown Worlds has produced what he believes is one of the most open and moddable games ever.
“I’m definitely not saying ‘Source is not moddable,’” he says.
“Right, of course. That would be crazy,” I say.
Having just blasted pre-order bonuses, I would encourage you to consider pre-ordering Natural Selection 2. Why? Because it'll let you join in on the Alpha test when it opens on July 26, and you'll have special black marine armour whenever you play. Come on, black armour!