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Feature Article

Duke Nukem 3D: Everything You Need to Know About the Upcoming 20th Anniversary Edition

Hail to the king...again

Duke Nukem 3D--godfather of the first-person shooter--has been revamped and re-released nearly a dozen times over the past 20 years. It's appeared on devices ranging from the ubiquitous iPad to the ill-fated Sega Saturn. But according to Gearbox Software publishing producer Scott Warr, nothing beats the 1996 original.

That's why his team--which includes several members of the original development team--has assembled Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour, a definitive update that both preserves the original experience by implementing only a crucial handful of visual improvements and delivers eight brand new levels that aim to recapture the series' early glory.

We sat down with Warr during PAX West to discuss what's changed (and what hasn't)--from multiplayer to voiceovers to classic expansions that didn't make the cut.

GameSpot: Let's start with the eight new levels. Are they all about equal in length to the original levels?

Warr: Yes, absolutely. That was what we got when working with [original developers Richard Gray and Allen Blum III] again. They went through the same type of things that they did in the original Duke Nukem 3D. As you play through, you should notice no difference. It feels just like a continuation of Duke 3D. You'll play the fifth episode and be like, "When did this come out?" It doesn't feel like it was just created in now. There are some definite things that you'll see with the lighting that we could not do back in 1996 that we can do now. Other than that, you shouldn't feel anything jarring or different.

Why remain so committed to those retro stylings rather than updating the experience with modern techniques?

No Caption Provided

Duke Nukem 3D turns 20 this year. It was really important for us to keep Duke Nukem 3D in that retro feel and look. [However] it's not an up-res. We didn't do the new true 3D renderer. As you can see when you look up, things aren't stretched anymore. It actually stays and looks like buildings or whatever. The skybox looks like a skybox. We also relit the entire thing.

You can flip between the new renderer and old renderer. It was very painful, especially from the tech end of it, [but] we did not want to touch the game. Because of the anniversary edition, it was discussed at some point, like, what does the anniversary mean? It was definitely to just keep Duke as original as possible with a few tweaks.

So even the new levels don't have new mechanics of any kind? It's the same classic weapons, same jetpack, same steroids…

I will say we did add some things that were kind of within code but never really hooked up. There was a flamethrower-type weapon that was in actual code, but it was never in the game to actually use. We hooked it up, and it's called the Incinerator now. We also added one new enemy type, which is the Firefly. They look tiny, like they got shrunk, and then they'll expand into big monsters and shoot you with flames.

Can you tell us more about what you guys changed visually and how you went about building the new levels in the classic style?

We kept it all using the original tools [and] original assets. Everything in this new level is actually from the original game. We just used it in different ways, shapes, and forms. With the technology where it's at today, we could do some new things, new tricks, and didn't have to stay with just within the confines of the old renderer.

Did you update the audio at all? All of Duke's lines have been re-recorded by original voice actor Jon St. John, correct?

Correct. The old files were pretty harsh, so just we called Jon St. John. He was like, "Of course." He did all the lines over again and, actually, recorded some new lines just for the new episodes. You will hear new things from him. Then [original composer] Lee Jackson added new music and is the composer for the new levels.

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How difficult was it to convince all these original team members to get involved? Who even made those phone calls?

[Gearbox Software studio head] Randy Pitchford with the 20th anniversary was like, "Hey, we've got to do something." Called [Blum] and [Gray], and they were like, "Let's do this." It was great. I remember some of the earlier emails. They had already gone through and said, "Okay, we want to do this world tour thing. We want to go to different locations around the world."

As far as jumping in and using all the tools, I remember some of the complaints of like, "Ah, crap. Now I remember this," or, "Oh, I forgot the trick that I was supposed to do to make this work." That was awesome to watch because me being a fan, I was sitting there like, "I can't believe this is happening."

Some of it's captured in the developer commentary as well. You can hear some of what they were frustrated about, but it was pretty easy. [Jackson] was stoked to write new music for the fifth episode. Like I said, both [Blum] and [Gray] were onboard. Jon St. John, he's always ready to do the Duke Nukem voice.

You mentioned the "world tour" aspect of the new levels--the one new level we've seen so far is set in Amsterdam. Why did you pick Amsterdam of all places? And what can you tell us about the remaining levels?

It was just one of the locations around the world that we wanted to visit, or that had an alien problem. A lot of the [original] assets were just reused in different ways or little twist on them, but it was mainly the old assets. Other than that, it's just around the world. There are eight different locations. It ranges from Amsterdam to Russia to San Francisco--there are cool locations all over the world, and you will recognize some of them.

No Caption Provided

Can we expect any new boss characters?

I will say that there is a boss at the end of the eighth episode that you will fight.

What about multiplayer? How are you handling that?

We rewrote multiplayer from the ground up. Eight-player multiplayer, eight-player co-op, and now we have one-player bot matches. It'll be one player and then seven bots. That's never been done before, or hasn't been in Duke Nukem 3D. It was there, it just wasn't hooked up, so we hooked it up and made it available. Basic DukeMatch is back and you can play it or even go through the eight new missions that we added.

What about some of the expansions that have come out over the years? I know a lot of fans were sort of clamoring for material like Duke It Out In D.C. and other classic add-on content that they were hoping might be included in this package as well.

Correct, and it's not. You know, we liked the new maps that had come out over the years, but as of right now, there are no plans. Those were not included just because I think we wanted to keep it with [Blum] and [Gray]. It was to focus on the original 20th anniversary. It was to get the original game and then these new episodes.

Now that the eight new levels and the classic game are shipping next month, would you consider adding any of that older add-on content at some point in the future?

It's not out of the question. While I'm at Gearbox Software and we have Duke Nukem on the plate, anything's possible. I love Duke Nukem. I've been a fan ever since the first game. It will always have a great place in my heart. I never want it to go away.

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Duke 3D has been re-released quite a few times over the years, most notably as the Megaton Edition that was previously available on Good Old Games. A lot of people bought and played that game. To the fans who already own versions of Duke 3D, what would you say to convince them to buy Duke again?

You know, some of the things that we noticed from Megaton and then from the Xbox 360 version--we basically just combined them all and put it [in Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour]. I know on the Megaton version, the rewind feature was not there. It is going to be on the PC version now. We wanted both versions to just be in one spot. We did a little bit more, but we definitely took the components of the 360 version and Megaton and put [them] into one spot.

Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour releases October 11 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC at $20. For more on the original announcement, check here.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Avatar image for doublem-k
DoubleM-K

dnstuff

Avatar image for leviathanxx
LeviathanXX

How about get fucked? Outside of rerecorded dialogue, Megaton is the definitve edition...You just know Gearbox will charge for the other expansions, guaran-fucking-teed.

Avatar image for nepu7supastar7
nepu7supastar7

Sounds awesome! I'm all over this!!

Avatar image for macaque12
macaque12

Come get some! Duke is always good news, specially for monday morning. Hope to see a new Duke game sometime in the future. Even a reboot would be cool, but keep Jon St John on it!

Avatar image for thereal25
thereal25

Tried Megaton edition recently; got frustrated and quit.

But its kinda atmospheric though, in it's own way.

Avatar image for metalhead9806
Metalhead9806

So this has all of the content of the Megaton edition? If so ill get it.

Avatar image for leviathanxx
LeviathanXX

@metalhead9806: It says in the article it doesnt, no expansions at all. And the 'possibility' so a guarantee of them selling them down the line. Rip off.

Avatar image for Rattlesnake_8
Rattlesnake_8

@metalhead9806: No. The Megaton Edition includes 3 expansions that are not included in the Anniversary edition. It says so in the article.

Avatar image for DrunkenPunk800
DrunkenPunk800

@metalhead9806: It's gonna have all the levels. I know that much. Both this and Megaton were based off of the Atomic Edition, which had the forth episode, The Birth. This one's also going to have a new fifth episode.

Not sure about online play, but whatever.

I'll probably get it when it drops in price. I already have the Atomic Edition and Megaton version. The lighting effects in this are pretty much what stock Duke3D looks like if you run it in the EDuke32 polymer engine, without any high res textures or models.

Avatar image for HuSSaR83
HuSSaR83

I remember when I got my first computer at Christmas it was 486 with 8MB Ram and first game I had on it was Duke Nukem Demo and I tell ya I played those first levels so much its imprinted in my brain..This video almost made me cry lol

Avatar image for icelandichossi
IcelandicHossi

SJW will have a heart attack ahahah eat it and die

Avatar image for pyratrum
PyratRum

Hail to the King baby!

It's a little off putting considering that the Megaton Edition was released not too long ago but new Duke is always appreciated. Hopefully the new episode will make up for the lack of the previous ones like Duke it Out in DC, etc.

Avatar image for BlackOmegaTM
BlackOmegaTM

I'm sold.

I still have tons of levels I build back in the 90's on my hard disk, should be fun playing in them again.

Avatar image for DeadrisingX1
DeadrisingX1

Hell yeah, I'm in.

Avatar image for howthegodzkill
howthegodzkill

Should demonstrate the raw power of the Xbox One perfectly.

Avatar image for nanosuituser059
nanosuituser059

@howthegodzkill: With that new S model, it should be able to finally hit 60fps at 792p

Avatar image for nanosuituser059
nanosuituser059

Hopefully they will add the expansion packs and the PS1 episode Plug N Pray down the line. After that they really should just reboot Duke like how they did the new Doom.

Avatar image for DrunkenPunk800
DrunkenPunk800

@nanosuituser059: Duke really does need a reboot. Worked great for Shadow Warrior.

That said, I don't think Gearbox are the company to pull it off. Interceptor Entertainment need to get the rights.

Avatar image for nanosuituser059
nanosuituser059

@DrunkenPunk800: Problem with that is that Gearbox owns Interceptor.

Avatar image for StrikerMan780
StrikerMan780

@nanosuituser059: Incorrect. 3D Realms owns Interceptor and vice/versa (partnership). Gearbox owns the Duke IP, but Interceptor is not theirs.

Avatar image for Lach0121
Lach0121

@nanosuituser059:

I am right there with ya. The moment they add in all the expansion packs, we will get 2 copies.

And we already have 2 copies of the megaton edition.

Reboot Duke? Hell yeah! They did a killer job with Doom.

Avatar image for nanosuituser059
nanosuituser059

@Lach0121: As someone who owns Megaton, Xbox Live Arcade, Gog, and multiple console versions, this just can't be justified for another purchase. Maybe Steam sale if it drops low enough or they add that content. The multiplayer and new episode sound sweet tho

Avatar image for westsiderz28
westsiderz28

@nanosuituser059: I agree man I have multiple versions also so will be giving this a miss unfortunately

Just can't justify buying the same game again for the 8 new levels

Avatar image for nanosuituser059
nanosuituser059

@westsiderz28: I remember that the Megaton edition used to drop to less than $3. If it hits that low I'll pick it up. Only thing that could tip me to buy full price is if they threw in that PS1 Plug N Pray episode.

Avatar image for DrunkenPunk800
DrunkenPunk800

@nanosuituser059: Not sure why everyone is jerking off to the PS1 version. It was one of the worst ports, and the added episode was pretty mediocre.

Avatar image for nanosuituser059
nanosuituser059

@DrunkenPunk800: I have it and know firsthand how terrible it is. The episode is okay and has never seen release except on PS1. Seems like a great time to release it to more platforms.

Avatar image for iloveyourface
iloveyourface

i'm going to buy 5 copies of these and looking forward to playing multiplayer matches with my friends again.

Avatar image for danielbirchal
danielbirchal

Duke 3D was avaliable even on Sega Genesis(not kidding)

Avatar image for DrunkenPunk800
DrunkenPunk800

@danielbirchal: That was an unofficial port, and it was god awful. A rather impressive feat, though.

Avatar image for danielbirchal
danielbirchal

@DrunkenPunk800: No! It was an official port legally sold in Brazil by the company the company that had the official Sega licence to manufactor and sell sega consoles. It was released too late to be released anywhere else.

Avatar image for BlackOmegaTM
BlackOmegaTM

@danielbirchal: It was horrible ! hahahaah

Avatar image for UntraceableHaze
UntraceableHaze

Damn, to bad we didn't get a remake ala Halo 2: A

Would have loved to see that porn shop, theater, and strip club in super duper graphics!

Avatar image for gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

@UntraceableHaze: Stop! The Feminazis are gonna get mad!

Avatar image for OMGMrTea
OMGMrTea

So great! Gonna love to have some Duke-action once again. And the new episodes, i never dreamt for something like that to happen, this is just so freaking awesome!!!