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What's new from NS1

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The ebb and flow of the battle has changed with the addition of Dynamic Infestation which is spread through Cysts. Dynamic Infestation is required to build alien structures and blocks the creation of Marine Structures. The consequence of this is that placing Marine structures deep in enemy territory is generally harder. It also means that a chain of Cysts must be defended across the map from the the hive to any desired build location. Dynamic Infestation forces the Kharaa to spread more 'organically.'

In addition, the marines now have to construct Power Nodes to enable their buildings within a given room. Defending these power nodes is now an important part of the game-play, as is defending the alien Cysts.

Hive locations are now called Tech Points and they are the only place where a Hive or a Command Chair can be placed. The marines need to hold 2 or more Command Chairs and the Kharaa 3 Hives to unlock all available technology. All maps have 4 tech points or more, often with both the alien and/or the marine start randomly assigned on match start.

Finally the Gorge is no longer the main builder, now only able to construct the new offensive chamber Hydra and a physical blockage called the Clog. However a Gorge's heal spray and bile bomb remain critical elements in any Kharaa victory. The Alien Commander now builds every alien building (with the exception of the Hydra and Clog).

As a new player, you will become a "Rookie" for your first 4 hours of play, rendering your name and your chat text in a green font. Please help those rookies on your team.



  • Dynamic Infestation now surrounds the Hive automatically.
  • Alien structures must now be built on Dynamic Infestation, which are spread by Cysts, and lose health continuously if infestation recedes from under them. This is excluding the Whip which can uproot itself to move about.
  • The Alien Commander, who is a lifeform who enter a Hive to gain an overview of the map similar to Marine Commander. Research upgrades and builds structures.
  • Alien structures are now grown on Infestation directly by the Alien Commander and will automatically construct themselves.
  • All Alien structures Mature and so become stronger over time, often unlocking further upgrades and passive abilities.
  • Offense Chambers have been changed to weaker Hydras spawned by Gorges, with a maximum of 3 per player. Furthermore the Alien Commander can spawn shortrange tentacles called Whips.
  • Once mature, Whips will throw grenades back to the Marine who threw them. They can then be upgraded with the longer range anti-armour Bombard ability.
  • Now build Hives on Tech Points, points that can be occupied by Frontiersmen Command Stations.
  • The Alien Commander can now deploy Nutrient Mist which will Heal both structures and Kharaa, accelerate construction and upgrades. It also accelerates the gestating process by 4x.


  • Alien abilities such as Leap, Blink and Stomp must now be researched by the Alien Commander using a Hive. Each upgrade requires either 2 or 3 hives to build and that ability will be lost once the number of Hives falls below the requirement.
  • The Defense Chamber is now referred to as the Crag. Aside from it's usual heal it also has an activatable that boosts healing rate by 50 hp/tick for a short time.
  • The Sensory Chamber is now referred to as the Shade. Its ability allows you to spread Ink, rendering an area pitch-black to Marines. It can be upgraded to a deception shade which spawns fake aliens to confuse marines.
  • The Movement Chamber is now referred to as the Shift. It can create eggs in the immediate vicinity which are prioritized for spawn over those in any hive. It regenerates energy the energy of nearby aliens and can be upgraded to a structure that can teleport other structures surrounding it to infestation anywhere.

Kharaa Lifeforms

  • Lifeform upgrades are now termed Evolution, which remain free to select and now researched from Shells, Veils, and Spurs, which requires a specialized version for each corresponding Evolution.
  • Alien Vision now renders the world a green overlay, and highlights all players and structures in a bright opaque orange tone, augmenting the Alien's combat awareness. Destroying a Power Node renders a room pitch black for a short time, making Alien Vision grant a huge combat advantage over the marines.
  • Skulk can no longer bunny-hop, instead has Wall Jumping as an alternate skill-based movement system. His shift makes him walk silently and stick to walls better.
  • Lerk gets his Spikes back and can cling to walls with shift. His spores abilities requires second hive research
  • Gorge no longer builds Hives or Harvesters (he can help grow structures with Heal Spray). He can now Belly Slide with shift, for increased movement speed and drifting.
  • Fade's Blink ability turns the fade blue and small while also receiving less damage. Also no longer has Metabolize or Acid Rocket. A fade needs his blink researched, requiring a second hive. As alternative his shift launched him in his walking direction.
  • Onos no longer has Devour, but now stuns Marines using Stomp, and builds up momentum using Charge with the shift key to travel at faster speeds.
  • Skulks now spawn inside Eggs that spawn around the hive, which can be killed by Marines, prolonging alien spawn time.
  • All lifeforms have an alternate-fire ability (Podcast #5 at 15:52).



  • Structures now rely of the presence of a Power Node. Most structures in a room without a Power Node will not function and become unpowered.
  • Former Command Consoles, now referred to as the Command Station, can only be built on a Tech Point, which can also be occupied by a Kharaa Hive. A second Command Station is now required for many upgrades.
  • The ARC replaces the Siege Cannon; it can be moved and deployed by the Marine Commander.
  • The Sentry Turret has a limited field of view, but has greater firepower. It does greater damage as it continues to focus on a single target, making it ideal against buildings.


Commander Experience

  • Squads form automatically when players are close in proximity.
  • The Marine Commander can drop weapons for players, but players on the ground can buy their own weapons/equipment at an Armory or Prototype Lab (Forum post by Charlie).
  • Commander view will be variable height, allowing it to move up and down depending on the height of the map. (Forum post by Max)
  • Many actions will give automatic orders to marines. For example placing a building will direct nearby marines to construct that building.
  • Welder/Builder bots can be constructed and directed by the marine commander. These are ideal in support roles and can replace marines for routine construction.

General Gameplay

  • No official combat game mode will ship with NS2. (There is a mod out there though!)
  • Maps are smaller: instead of a sprawling network of halls and non-rooms, maps are made up of 6-10 rooms, each with a "landmark" (lighting, custom props, theme) to help players characterize it easily (Forum post by Charlie).
  • Unified resource model to balance the teams for team sizes from small to large (NSPlayer interview).
  • There is no random map generation built into NS2 (Forum post by Max).


  • Filter for vanilla and modded servers in server browser (Forum post by Charlie).
  • Marine Waypoints use AI pathfinding to give you directions rather than just a destination (Forum post by Charlie).
  • The HUD is minimal and context-aware.
  • Built on DirectX9 (Forum Post by Max)
  • Eventual post-release content (Forum Post by Cory)
  • "Some of the tools have been moved over to Mac, we will support linux ultimately but not sure when. Probably before 1.0, will support dedicated servers." (Charlie @ around 40:27+ mark)

Comparison between NS1 and NS2 Models

For all renders of new models see Category:Render.