A Look at Duke Nukem 3D Megaton Edition

Duke Nukem 3D Box Art
by Rob Williams on March 26, 2013 in Gaming

The last game I would have ever expected to see released this month on Steam was Duke Nukem 3D, but lo and behold, it’s here. Dubbed the “Megaton Edition”, this one packs in upscaled graphics, three add-on packs and soon, multiplayer. Oh, and achievements. Let’s check it out, and compare it to the classic version and the HRP.

Think March belongs to Tomb Raider and BioShock Infinite? Then you need to hail to the king, baby. Last week, Duke Nukem made his first post-Forever appearance on Steam. I admit that I never expected to see DN3D on Valve’s service, but I’m glad to have been proven wrong. Better still: it’s not just some straight port.

The Megaton Edition, as it’s called, brings with it an OpenGL renderer along with three add-on packs: Caribbean: Life’s a Beach, Duke it out in D.C. and Nuclear Winter. Of these, Caribbean is the only one that originally got the a-OK from 3D Realms to be produced, though the company later adopted the unofficial Duke it out in D.C. to include it in its Kill-A-Ton Collection.

Despite having purchased Duke Nukem 3D too-many-times in the past, I couldn’t help but check out the Megaton Edition and see what it brought to the table. Plus, the allure of having the three aforementioned add-ons available in such an accessible manner really appealed to me.

Throughout this brief article, I’ll talk a bit about my initial experiences with this edition, compare some graphics to the original game and also the High Resolution Pack, and finally, give a quick tutorial on how to install the HRP with this particular edition.

Like the Xbox Live Arcade variant of Duke Nukem 3D that came out a couple of years ago, this port features a revamped menu that’s high-res, fluid and simple-to-use. Though the graphics have been improved (slightly) in this edition, there are no graphics options to tweak – outside of reverting to the “Retro” mode which simply disables the OpenGL smoothing.

Unfortunately, the game was unable to launch with a multiplayer component, but the developer has stated that it’s in the works. Also, if for some reason Duke’s latest appearance on Steam does little to excite you, you may be interested to know that an enhanced Shadow Warrior edition is en route. I can’t help but hope that the developer might tackle Blood as well in the future.

Duke Nukem 3D - Megaton Edition

As mentioned above, what makes this a “Megaton” edition is 1) OpenGL, 2) Support for higher resolutions, 3) Cloud saves, 4) Support for Windows and Mac OS X and 5) The inclusion of the three level packs. The graphics are not “upgraded” at all, but merely scaled upwards and smoothed over. The truest experience to the original, while still being able to play at more comfortable resolutions, would be running the classic game through EDuke32. This in effect is the next-best thing, if you happen to appreciate smoother graphics.

At the moment, the game is relatively bug-free, although there is a lingering “floaty” mouse issue floating around (sorry) that the developer is actively working on a fix for. On that topic, I have to say that the level of interactivity with the developer on the Steam community hub for the game has been quite nice – the folks there are even considering implementing some fan suggestions for future achievements. Suffice to say, it seems like the game is going to be well taken care of for the foreseeable future. One would hope this support also includes the introduction of support for user maps – something the game lacks at this point in time.

After having played the Megaton Edition for a couple of hours, I’m left pretty satisfied. I wouldn’t have hated to see the game updated with a new engine and updated graphics – a la HRP, but that’s already been done. Unless we see the game recreated in an up-to-date engine in its entirety, this edition makes a pretty good complement to the HRP and classic variants.

Speaking of those, let’s take a look at some comparison shots, shall we? For the sake of ease, you can download all of the comparison images in one go with this archive (4MB. ZIP).

Hollywood Holocaust

Duke Nukem 3D - Megaton Edition: Hollywood Holocaust
Megaton Edition

Duke Nukem 3D - Atomic Edition: Hollywood Holocaust
Classic Duke 3D

Duke Nukem 3D - High Resolution Pack: Hollywood Holocaust
High Resolution Pack


Duke Nukem 3D - Megaton Edition: Duke-Burger
Megaton Edition

Duke Nukem 3D - Atomic Edition: Duke-Burger
Classic Duke 3D

Duke Nukem 3D - High Resolution Pack: Duke-Burger
High Resolution Pack

The Queen

Duke Nukem 3D - Megaton Edition: The Queen
Megaton Edition

Duke Nukem 3D - Atomic Edition: The Queen
Classic Duke 3D

Duke Nukem 3D - High Resolution Pack: The Queen
High Resolution Pack


Duke Nukem 3D - Megaton Edition: XXX-Stacy
Megaton Edition

Duke Nukem 3D - Atomic Edition: XXX-Stacy
Classic Duke 3D

Duke Nukem 3D - High Resolution Pack: XXX-Stacy
High Resolution Pack

The original Duke Nukem 3D was a notoriously dark game in parts, and it seems that the developer of this Megaton Edition wasn’t ignorant of it. As can be seen in all four examples above, the lighting in the Megaton Edition is much-improved over the original – although that’s a fact that’s going to be debated. I personally prefer the lighting in the HRP compared to the others, but would definitely opt for the Megaton edition over the original.

Likewise, I tend to prefer the graphics upgrades that the HRP offers versus simple upscaling. Sprites are a rather funny aspect of DN3D. Because they’re everywhere, their “downsides” become apparent quick. Of course, this game was released in 1996, but even then, having items that faced you no matter which angle you looked at them at seemed weird. The HRP (mostly) takes care of that throughout the game, as most sprites are replaced with real 3D models.

In the end, whichever graphics mode you prefer is definitely going to depend on your tastes – the upside is that all three variants can be done with this single edition. Some may prefer the classic because that’s the “way it’s meant to be played”, while some will appreciate the simple upscaling and smoothing. Me, I really appreciate the advanced graphics of the HRP, which I’m sure is obvious by now. Everything from the models to the lighting, I much prefer it over the original. Further comments and information can be gleaned from my look at the HRP that I posted this past November.

For those who agree with me that the HRP is where it’s at, you’ll be happy to know that the Megaton Edition includes the original game in its DOS format. So, while mods cannot be directly applied to this updated version, they can be to this classic version. That means that EDuke32 and the HRP are just a couple of quick steps away – steps that I’ll explain at the bottom of this page.

But before we get to that, have a quick look at the awesome splash screens and an in-game screenshot from each of the three add-ons included with the game.

Official Add-ons

Duke Nukem 3D - Megaton Edition: Caribbean - Life's a Beach

Duke Nukem 3D - Megaton Edition: Caribbean - Life's a Beach

Duke Nukem 3D - Megaton Edition: Duke it out in DC

Duke Nukem 3D - Megaton Edition: Duke it out in DC

Duke Nukem 3D - Megaton Edition: Nuclear Winter

Duke Nukem 3D - Megaton Edition: Nuclear Winter

Installing the High Resolution Pack

Note: You cannot earn Steam achievements with the classic version of the game.

Installing the High Resolution Pack with the Megaton Edition is simple, because the included original DOS version has been left unaltered. The first step is no doubt obvious: you need to go acquire the HRP. To do so, head on over to the official download page and grab the “FULL SFX” version. While that’s downloading, navigate to the install location for the classic version of the game, as seen in this screenshot; (eg: Steam\steamapps\common\Duke Nukem 3D\gameroot\classic\).

Once the HRP is downloaded, run the executable and extract the files into a folder (I’d recommend just typing a quick name after the end of the path it provides). With that finished, you’ll want to navigate into the folder with the extracted files and highlight all of them except ‘duke3d’, as seen in this screenshot. At this point, you can simply right-click and “Copy”, or “Cut”, and then head back on over to the game’s install folder as shown in the earlier example and “Paste” them in. If you’re not feeling confident about about your file-handling skills, first backup your entire “classic” folder before dealing with the HRP’s files.

With that all set, simply execute ‘eduke32′. You’ll be greeted to this screen:

Duke Nukem 3D High Resolution Pack - EDuke32

You’ll want to make sure that “Polymer” and “Enable ‘autoload’ folder” are checked, while also selecting the appropriate display resolution from the drop-down. After that, you can simply hit “Start” and enjoy the game in all its high-res glory (thanks to the dedicated fans who’ve made it possible). By default, the in-game graphics options are not configured for the highes settings, so if you have a capable enough PC, you’ll want to hit-up the video section and apply these recommended settings. “Ambient Light Level” is up to you, but the rest assure you’ll be playing with the highest-quality settings. Additionally, you’ll want to experiment with the filtering options on the previous page – I usually stick with Trilinear as I like the smoothing effect it gives.

Final Thoughts

Whenever a new port of Duke Nukem 3D comes out of the woodwork, the obvious first question to ask is whether or not it’s worth picking up – because let’s face it, it’s not uncommon for fans to own multiple copies already. My answer to this is “maybe”. As usual, this decision depends on a couple of factors.

With the game sourced from other locations, such as the original disks or GOG.com, the HRP pack can mimic quite well the same graphics enhancements the Megaton Edition provides. The benefit here, though, is that this edition includes three add-on packs that are well-worth playing – and can cost $10 per if you find them on eBay or elsewhere. The level of convenience of having them all load right through Steam is high.

Additionally, multiplayer is in the works. That feature alone would tempt me to a purchase. Unfortunately, this isn’t here now, but it’s my hope that it won’t take too long to get here. Heck – I also hope it doesn’t take too long to see the enhanced edition of Shadow Warrior get here, either. It’s almost obscene how excited this duo of games can get me all these years later.

If you’re a Duke Nukem 3D fan and don’t happen to own a current copy, this is well-worth the price-of-admission. Similarly, if you’ve always heard about what a great game it is but never got around to playing it, this is likewise a great way to dive-in. However, if you’re not too concerned with multiplayer, Steam achievements or the add-on packs, the game can be had for $4 less at GOG (it’s worth noting that both services regularly hold sales to drop these prices even further).

If there’s one thing I’m happy to see with this release, it’s that 3D Realms isn’t quite as dead as we once thought it was. We might only be seeing re-releases at the moment, but there’s always the hope that we’ll see something new from the studio at some point in the future.

  • http://techgage.com/ Marfig

    Brilliant stuff, Rob. Thanks a bunch for taking the time to explore the possibilities around HRP and this new edition of Duke Nukem.

    I must say I find The Megaton Edition largely flawless over this. It’s just the HUD that really got under my skin. Too much of a graphical difference between the game screen and the HUD clean and modern look.

    The good:
    That they included rarely available map packs on top of the Atomic Edition is definitely a bonus. I personally only really liked the Caribbean pack, back when I was playing these. But it’s just a fact that Duke Nukem has fans everywhere and to every taste. This is simply the most complete edition available currently, to my knowledge. You can’t go wrong with it.

    The bad:
    Playing a DRM enabled Duke Nukem is a pill too hard to swallow. Really is. It’s a matter of principle and not everyone will care about this. But to me… I just can’t abide. Seeing a game that was released back when we didn’t have all this industry nonsense, when the second sale doctrine was in full force, seeing that game source code later actually even becoming open source (with just the quest related files remaining protected), only to now see a DRM-enabled Duke Nukem 3D edition is just the type of irony that I can’t stand. An insult.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      I don’t care for the in-game UI either… I think it’s mostly the font that I find off-putting.

      The classic version of the game that comes with this one in effect is DRM-free, even though it’s not something Valve would want to tout. That said, I would have loved it if these xpacs came as classic versions also, that way you could easily use their respective HRPs as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/terminx Richard Gobeille

    EDuke32 developer/project manager here. A note about the lighting in Megaton Edition: this wasn’t a conscious effort to improve anything, it’s an error attributed to the Polymost renderer (the original OpenGL renderer used in JFDuke3D and EDuke32 before our new Polymer renderer was developed). The problem occurs because the old version of the renderer they’ve used doesn’t support sector visibility (defined on a per-sector basis by the original level designer) or negative shade values (which normally work against the visibility to brighten certain sprites or textures in dark areas).

    What this means is that the renderer in Megaton Edition doesn’t support the lighting features from the original 1996 maps–this is why when you look at the main street area in Hollywood Holocaust, in Megaton Edition the signs aren’t lit up, everything has that dull grey washed out look to it, etc. This is really a huge problem for anyone thoroughly familiar with the original game as it completely destroys the intended atmosphere in most of the game (and especially in user maps, which I had read were planned on being supported by way of the community hub features). It looks exactly the same in the old builds of JFDuke3D from 2004-2005 before development on it dried up because it’s the same unfinished code.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      Thanks a ton for taking the time to comment, Richard!

      I hadn’t considered the fact that the lighting “improvements” were in fact attributed to a bug, but it makes sense. I didn’t notice that particular issue in Hollywood Holocaust, but I did notice it in Lunar Reactor. Here, I think HRP did it best:


      This is the first hallway to the right after the level begins. In the original game, this hallway is nearly pitch-black – even the end remains just as black as the rest. The reason for this design is that there’s a Mini Battlelord at the end. Clearly, the developers wanted you to reach the end of the hallway and have the wits scared out of you.

      HRP improves upon things by lighting up the end (which to me, seems realistic), and allowing you to see the Mini Battlelord’s shadow. In some ways, that’s even scarier than tripping over him without advance notice. Then there’s the Megaton Edition, which throws most of the scary effect out the window:


      I guess in a way, a semi-lit hallway like this could be realistic, but it’s clearly not what the original developers were going for.

      “and especially in user maps, which I had read were planned on being supported by way of the community hub features”

      I sure hope that’s the case. That’s another thing I forgot to mention in the article, but will add after I post this.

      Thanks again for the comments and explanations, it’s much appreciated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.vermette Joe Sullivan

    I got it for the add-ons.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      Because I’m a bit of an achievement whore, I’m going to run through the entire Megaton Edition once, but after that, I’ll load up the HRP the next time I want to go through the game again (I didn’t even realize until now that there are HRPs for the add-ons, but there are).

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.vermette Joe Sullivan

    I’m really loving playing through the game again, and loving the add-ons which I never played before. I’ve experienced some bugs like (infrequent) random crashes, graphics corruption, misaligned textures, etc. , though. Did you notice there’s a second Duke head popping out from behind an alien gun in the title screen?

    I’m downloading a high-res pack someone put together for this edition and posted to the Steam forums right now. I’ve never checked this out before so it’ll be fun.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      I haven’t noticed graphics issues that I can recall, although I did experience a duo of random crashes. The first time, the screen just went black, and reloading my last save did nothing. Had to restart the entire game. Then later, I had crashed straight to the desktop. Unfortunately, this was just within the first five levels of the game.

      I am slowly working my way through again. Just beat the game last fall so I am going through it a tad faster than usual, haha. Looking forward to the add-ons because it’s been AGES since I last played them, outside of quick tests this past weekend.

      • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

        I guess I can add cloud sync save issues to the list. Logged off at level 6 last night, by my save was for level 4.

        • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.vermette Joe Sullivan

          lol yeah. It kind of sucks when you’re almost done a level and not only have to go though it all over again but also the previous one.

          • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

            dnkroz + dnclip and find your way to the end of the level, then just disable both once you are done.

          • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.vermette Joe Sullivan

            Thanks. I just had to use it to get back to my fight with the queen!

          • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

            Ahh wow, you’ve made good progress so far, haha. Just began the second chapter a little bit ago, almost through it. It’s my least-favorite so anxious to get it out of the way.

            You get any really cool secret achievements yet? The only one I got so far is for clearing out every enemy in a level.

          • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.vermette Joe Sullivan

            No I don’t so, although I thought I did clear out all enemies in a level ….

      • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.vermette Joe Sullivan

        I hope they add more stuff like the PS1-exclusive Plug and Pray add-on — that sounds awesome.

        Now, For the second time I just had a crash that seemingly wiped out my last save …. That is really weird and annoying ….

        • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

          Yup, it sure is. I just clipped through the level to get back to the end to get around the bad save issue. Not interested in going through entire levels a second time right after one another. As for Plug and Pray, I have major doubts that will happen. I am not sure any of the console-exclusives ever hit the PC.

  • http://twitter.com/braskens Fred Maples

    Thank you, this is exactly what I was looking for. You talk about what the community has to offer in addition to this great new updated version of Duke 3d.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      I’m glad it helped!

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.vermette Joe Sullivan

    I got a kick out of the add-ons, especially Life’s a Beach and Dukin it Out in DC. Totally awesome.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      I’ve been lagging behind on playing lately. So addicted to a couple of other games, haha. Hoping to get back into it soon. Anxious to go through the add-ins since it’s been years since I last played them.

  • Paul

    Can you set this up to be played with a joypad? like the wireless 360 one so you can use the analog for looking aiming etc.

    I’ve got Atomic edition from gog had it for ages, but kept putting it off playing git cos of no proper widescreen mode really wanna get this up and running om flat screen in the livingroom.

    • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

      Unfortunately, the game doesn’t support gamepads.

      • Paul

        Hi, Rob are you sure, in the atomic edition in the DOS box launch settings there is gamepad options in there (not available in Duke game menu options though)

        • Paul

          Heres the settings I’m talking about:

          • Paul

            Game pad and joystick:

          • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

            I have major doubts that’s going to work for any modern gamepad, but I haven’t tested it out. We’re talking about a DOS game though that came out 17 years ago, so it’s not going to natively pick anything current up. I’m heading out the door soon so I can’t check, but perhaps eDuke32 could help out here. Though I’m not sure there’s much demand for gamepad support here so I’m really sure certain.

  • Zeldas Champion
    • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

      Haha, that’s spot-on. I looked at the old art assets for that xpac, and it seems this pose is in fact unique for the Megaton edition.