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Natural Selection


Natural Selection (NS) is a modification for the video game Half-Life. Its concept is a mixture of the first-person shooter (FPS) and real-time strategy (RTS) game genres.

The game features two teams: Kharaa (alien species) and Frontiersmen (human space marines). The visible Kharaa "units" are actually simply the spawn of the real Kharaa (aliens) which are microscopic life-forms according to the NS story line.


Natural Selection is a hybrid FPS / RTS that pits Marines against Aliens ("the Kharaa"), played primarily in the first-person perspective, within the confines of large atmospheric maps of spaceships or space stations, which have been invaded by the Kharaa.

There are two game modes in Natural Selection: Classic and Combat.

Classic game mode:

Classic is the original Natural Selection game, mixing FPS and RTS elements.

Distinctive Aspect: Marine Commander

Natural Selection was the first multiplayer, First-Person Shooter to incorporate a "Commander", whose view of the battlefield was essentially 2-D, from a strictly top-down perspective. One member of the marine team must enter the "command chair" to lead the team, and thus become the "Commander". From here, he can purchase upgrades, issue movement orders and drop supplies - all from an overhead perspective, as in many RTS games. The commander can also place buildings, although these are inactive until built by players in the field. The role is somewhat similar to the Intelligence Officer of Global Operations in that it is provided an overview of the map, though the ability to place objects and control is much more extensive. A similar 'commander' mode can also be seen in Battlefield 2 and the Empires modification for Half life 2.

Alien Team

The alien team has no defined leader, and so it must communicate and co-operate to ensure different roles are fulfilled as needed. There is only one "Builder Class", the Gorge which can be used to build a multitude of structures. Gorges can choose to build three different "upgrade" chambers: Movement, Defense, and Sensory, each providing three distinct abilities each alien can get. Gorges can also build Offense chambers which damage Marines from a distance, and resource towers. When a resource nozzle is capped, the resources gained are split evenly among all aliens. Each alien can choose how he wants to use his own personal reserve of resource points : building structures (as a gorge), or gestating into higher lifeforms. On death of the lifeform or structure, there is no refund on the resource points spent. Kharaa "Hive Sight" reveals teammates through the walls and structures of the map, this was originally their answer to the commander with his top-down overview of the game. However in later versions both teams have gained substantial advantage from the addition of a map hotkey. This overlays the whole level, showing teammates and friendly structures; plus enemies and structures currently in view of comrades, and areas under attack.
The aliens start with one active hive, randomly chosen from the 3 hive spots of the map. Active hives heal damaged aliens and respawn dead players. Marines initially spawn in a set location on the map, and after that spawn from Infantry Portals, which can be built in a set radius of the Command Chair. Healing and ammunition can be dropped by the commander in 'packs' (at a cost) or obtained free from an Armoury.

Goals and Victory Conditions

The teams compete for territory, and critically for the resources ('res') it offers. The currency for both sides, resources are obtained by building resource towers to tap the nozzles sited around the map. This is another area where the teams have a key difference - while marines draw on a common pool of resources, each alien accumulates a personal store. This further increases the requirement for teamwork on the alien side, to achieve the right balance of hives, lifeforms, resource towers and chambers.

The game ends when either all the Marines or Aliens are dead, and have no means to respawn. For the Frontiersmen (marine) side, this entails destroying all alien hives, ensuring no further alien players may respawn, and then hunting the rest down. For the Kharaa (alien) side, winning requires destroying all marine "Infantry Portals", ensuring that they do not respawn, and then eliminating the rest of the marines. Other possibilities exist such as destroying the command chair, or destroying all finished hives, and killing the whole alien team before the remaining hive is fully grown.

Duration and Balance Refinements

Game duration and game balance has been continually addressed by Unknown Worlds Entertainment throughout each of their releases with extensive changelogs describing these issues. In v1, games were slower and often measured in hours. One of the stated aims of v2 was to address this, by introducing a broad range of changes to abilities, structures, etc. In current releases (v3), a typical game lasts 5–15 minutes, but can run over an hour, with both sides vying for control over strategically important Hive Rooms and Resource Nodes.

Combat game mode

Combat is the team deathmatch, or beginner mode of NS. It was introduced in NS 3.0 to help new players learn how to play alien lifeforms in an easier environment.

Neither team can build structures, the marines do not have a commander, and aliens have only one hive. Each player has an individual experience meter, increased by killing enemies; dealing damage to the enemy hive/command chair or healing/repairing their own hive/command chair. When the experience meter reaches maximum, the player gains a level and it resets.

There have been various changes to the spawn system in the various betas to try and make matches more interesting and more winnable but also without making it such that a team that suffers a major loss of players can still come back. An admin configurable time limit (default 15 minutes) was introduced in beta 5 which remains in the final version. With the time limit, Marines are usually on the attacking side and Kharaa are on the defending side. Failure of the attacking side to win within the time limit results in a victory for the defending side.


Attention! For play Natural Selectionyou need Half-Life (not source or not 2)! Install Natural Selection to Half-Life folder.

Download links: selection/ns_install_v32.exe
Non-Steam standalone: selection/Natural_Selection_3.2_ver2009.4.exe