There are four playable classes in Nuclear Dawn
, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Assault plays the part of the well-rounded soldier and has a unique thermal imaging vision mode that helps them see enemies that may be cloaked. The exoskeleton class wears a thick suit of armor and carries heavy weapons, making them slow-moving but formidable fighters, especially when they hunker down. The Stealth class, light and agile, is ill-suited for frontal combat, but the ability to become invisible and sneak up behind enemies for a swift blade kill or snipe unseen makes up for that. Finally, Support handles various other tasks, including repairing damaged structures and healing teammates.
Each class has at least one alternate load-out, allowing you to further specialize the role they play on the battlefield. For instance, the assault class can have a shotgun and grenade launcher instead of rifle and pistol, for extra oomph against crowds or buildings. The exo can have a minigun for spewing bullets at soft targets, or a railgun/rocket launcher (depending on the faction) for sieging. Support players must choose between healing players or repairing buildings; that is, if they don’t want to just pick up a flamethrower and go on the offense. If sniping is more your thing, you can opt for a long-range rifle instead of lethal arm-blades on your Stealth soldier. These loadouts, as well as the classes themselves, can be changed either between spawns or at an armory, so that each player can adapt and react to the threats facing them.
Various actions throughout the course of playing the game will earn you experience points, which comprise your score for the round and are added to your lifetime total upon its completion. A kill is worth 10 points, destroying an enemy structure worth 20, helping to capture the primary resource node worth 30, etc. Ranking up happens in a fashion familiar to most players of military first-person shooters, following the progression from Private to Corporal to Sergeant, and so on, all the way up to Colonel and even General. Along with unlocking specific tiered achievements for playing as the different classes, ranking up will grant you access to new weapons and abilities, as well as gizmos (attachments) so that you can further customize your loadouts and dominate the battlefield.
Being based on the Source engine (the Left 4 Dead 2 variant, to be precise), Nuclear Dawn won’t be blowing any minds or taxing any systems with its visuals. However, InterWave rightly brags about the sheer amount of detail they’ve packed into their six existing maps -- some are so huge that it would take several minutes to trek across them on foot! Lucky for them, aging graphics fidelity fits well with the ruined, grimy theme of a post-apocalyptic landscape. The most interesting thing about the game’s graphics is probably the unique HUD. Not only are all the usual elements such as health and minimap shaped to fit the curvature of a futuristic soldier’s helmet visor, but certain other information is displayed as a sort of holographic projection. Every gun (and even grenades, for some reason) will display its ammo count and/or reserve supply level prominently as a floating icon attached to the weapon itself.