Duke Nukem 3D is a first-person shooter video game developed and published by 3D Realms.

Released on April 24, 1996, Duke Nukem 3D is the third game in the Duke Nukem series and a sequel to Duke Nukem II. The game was a commercial success and has seen numerous console ports, expansion packs, and special edition re-releases since its debut.

As a groundbreaking entry in the first-person shooter genre, Duke Nukem 3D was generally well-received by critics. The game was also immediately controversial and drew criticism in the mainstream media for its violence and pornographic content.

A sequel, Duke Nukem Forever, was released in 2011.


Level design

Main Article: Levels in Duke Nukem 3D

Level design in Duke Nukem 3D is notable for its depth of interactivity, which set a new standard for first-person shooters. Interactive objects include light switches, drinking fountains, strippers, surveillance screens, bins, toilets, pool tables, telephones, explosive barrels, fire hydrants, and a photocopier. Some of these objects perform multiple functions. For example, toilets can be used to urinate or to replenish the player's health by smashing them and then drinking from their water source.

The levels in Duke Nukem 3D also tend to exhibit non-linear design, such that air vents, back doors, and sewers offer converging routes to completion. This non-linearity helps support multiplayer gaming.

Compared to other first-person shooters of its time, Duke Nukem 3D was also well-received for pioneering realistic location designs with vivid colors and lighting.

There are five episodes in Duke Nukem 3D:

  1. L.A. Meltdown: Set in Los Angeles, this episode starts in a run-down area of the city before traveling to a prison, a toxic waste dump and the San Andreas Fault line.
  2. Lunar Apocalypse: Set on a variety of space stations and moon bases, and even an alien spaceship.
  3. Shrapnel City: Set back on Earth, and features a range of locations, including a bank, a movie set, a subway and a football stadium.
  4. The Birth: Available only in the Atomic Edition of the game. This episode features locations such as a fast food restaurant, a post office, an amusement park and Area 51.
  5. Alien World Order: Available only in the World Tour edition of the game. This new episode brings 8 new levels set around the world.


Main Article: Weapons in Duke Nukem 3D

Duke Nukem 3D includes a range of weapons, some of which remain unique to the Duke Nukem series even today. They range from the Mighty Foot, a basic melee attack, to a pistol, a chaingun cannon (similar to a Nordenfelt gun), pipe bombs, and weapons that shrink and freeze enemies. Four of the twelve weapons in the game produce explosions.


Main Article: Items in Duke Nukem 3D

In addition to the weapons, Duke's inventory contained a series of items that could be picked up and carried around during play. These items include:

  • Portable Medkit: Used to heal the player whenever they choose to.
  • Steroids: Used to increase the player's speed.
  • Night Vision Goggles: Used to see better in dark areas.
  • Holoduke: Projects a hologram of Duke that distracts enemies.
  • Protective Boots: Allows the player to traverse dangerous terrain, such as toxic or superheated floors.
  • Scuba Gear: Allows the player to breathe underwater.
  • Jetpack: Duke's signature item. Allows the player to fly freely around the environment, often to reach otherwise inaccessible hidden areas.

As well as these, there are a number of health-boosting items, as well as Access Cards that can be used to unlock doors, deactivate force fields, or trigger explosions.


Main Article: Enemies in Duke Nukem 3D

Duke Nukem 3D features a wide variety of enemies, including extraterrestrial aliens, mutant police officers, and mechanical robots.

In addition, there are five boss enemies, one at the end of each episode. These are:

  1. The Battlelord, equipped with a massive chaingun and mortar launcher
  2. The Overlord, who is found on the Moon and has two rocket launchers mounted on its back
  3. The Cycloid Emperor, found in a football stadium and has mechanical rocket launcher claws for hands
  4. The Alien Queen, an underwater creature that spawns offspring and fires a powerful electrical blast
  5. The Cycloid Incinerator, a twin of the Cycloid Emperor that shoots fire and summons Firefly Troopers


Main Article: Multiplayer in Duke Nukem 3D

Duke Nukem 3D supports LAN and modem-based multiplayer games. Multiplayer games could be played using either the IPX network utility Kali or the Total Entertainment Network (TEN) online pay service, the latter of which is no longer available.

Multiplayer games could take place either in the levels from the single player game, or in a few multiplayer-only levels also included with the game. Also, players could create their own levels to play in, both in multiplayer and in single player modes.

The game initially featured two multiplayer game types, with the third included in the Atomic Edition:

  • Dukematch: A deathmatch style in which each player has to kill the other players, with the first to gain a certain number of kills being declared the winner.
  • Co-operative: The players team up to play through the single player episodes together.
  • Duke Tag: Akin to capture the flag.

It is possible for one player to communicate with the others, by typing in messages. The player can choose whether the message is sent to everyone, just their allies, just their enemies, or a specific player. Also, there are 12 in-game taunts that were created for multiplayer play. They can be played by pressing "Alt" + "F1"-"F12" during play.

Special editions

Atomic Edition & Plutonium PAK

Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition

Main Article: Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition (Plutonium PAK)

Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition was a special edition re-release in 1996. For customers who already owned the game, the Plutonium PAK was sold as a patch that upgraded existing versions of the game to the Atomic Edition. The Atomic Edition introduces a new fourth episode, a new weapon, and three new enemies: the Pig Cop Tank, the Protector Drone, and a new final boss, the Alien Queen.

20th Anniversary Edition

20th Anniversary World Tour

Main Article: Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour

Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour is a 2016 special edition remake, released to commemorate the game's 20th anniversary. The remake includes all content from Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition, but it adds new levels, enemies, a weapon, and several special features.


Narrative elements in Duke Nukem 3D are confined to cutscenes at the ends of episodes, as well as an in-game menu and official game lore distributed by 3D Realms. Though sparse, the plot revolves around an alien invasion of Earth sometime in the early 21st century. Following the events of Duke Nukem II, Duke Nukem victoriously returns to Earth in his Skycar, which is unexpectedly shot-down on arrival. Aliens have invaded Earth. The aliens have transformed the Los Angeles police department into mutant Pig Cops to do their bidding, and they are stealing all the women.

The player assumes the role of Duke Nukem, an imperious action hero, and fights through 48 levels spread across 5 episodes. The player encounters a host of enemies and fights them with a range of weaponry. In the end, Duke annihilates the alien overlords and celebrates by desecrating their corpses.


Duke Nukem 3D’s graphic engine was a step forward from the Doom engine of 1993, though many of the advanced features of the game had appeared in intervening first-person shooter titles such as Marathon, Star Wars: Dark Forces, and others. While the levels were still defined as 2D maps, the capabilities of Ken Silverman's Build engine allowed more complex levels than Doom. The game supports diagonal slopes in the floors, though this had been seen as early as Ultima Underworld in 1992. It also supports vertical mouse aiming (though aiming up and down distorts the graphics due to a lack of perspective correction), though vertical look had also appeared in Ultima Underworld and full mouse look appeared in Marathon.

While Doom was limited to doors opening and closing only by sliding up and down, the Build engine also included doors/walls that can move sideways. The Doom engine usually only moved a single platform at a time in response to a player event, while the Build scripting system allows a whole string of moving and sliding actions, synchronized with sound effects, to create collapsing buildings, earthquakes, and walls that crumble apart when hit with explosives. One of the more advanced effects that went far beyond the limits of the Doom engine is the horizontal sliding platform that can move the player inside a small sliding room, to create subway cars moving in a timed sequence around a ring-shaped track.

The Build engine solves this problem by allowing multiple overlapping 2D paths to cross through the same 2D location. The key is that while inside one of these spaces, it is not possible to see into the other space, and so the 2.5D engine has no problem rendering one space or the other even though the map data literally shows the two areas to be occupying the same place. Several Duke Nukem 3D maps exploit this engine feature to create bizarre mind-bending maps where multiple large rooms all seem to be occupying one 3D space. One secret level in particular ("Lunatic Fringe" from episode 2, Lunar Apocalypse) has a map where the player can travel 720 degrees around a circle and not cross their path. This would be much more difficult to duplicate with modern true-3D map editors and engines.

To resolve the problem of not having balconies or bridges that the player can walk over or under, instead special objects are used by the Build engine that are not actually part of the flat 2D map design. Instead they are a special type of decorative sprite inserted into the world, similar to the breakable cameras, flowerpots, and lights. These special large sprites allow the player to walk over the object and under it as if it were an actual part of the map, to create the illusion of a true 3D space. However, these special objects have a highly restricted shape, typically as a perfectly square or rectangular non-sloping structure, greatly limiting their usefulness in the map design to simple bridges, balconies, or exposed rectangular air ducts.


LameDuke is an early beta version of Duke Nukem 3D, which was released by 3D Realms as a "bonus" one year after the release of the official version. It has been released as is, with no support, and is currently available to download from the 3D Realms FTP.

LameDuke features four episodes: Mrr Caliber, Mission Cockroach, Suck Hole and Hard Landing. Some weapons were removed and/or altered from the original versions.

Expansion packs and add-ons

Main article: Expansion packs for Duke Nukem 3D

Because of the commercial success of Duke Nukem 3D, many third-party developers were interested in producing expansion packs for the game. Some of these expansion packs were authorized by one of the copyright owners and are official products, while many more were unauthorized. What follows is an abridged list of authorized expansions: Duke Caribbean: Life's a Beach

Duke's well-earned vacation has been interrupted by another alien invasion. Armed with a host of exotic weapons, Duke kicks ass once again, tourist-style.

Duke it Out in D.C.

Aliens have kidnapped the President! But have no fear, Mr. Clinton, Duke's on his way to save you! Duke explores a number of famous Washington D.C. landmarks, shoving freedom and justice down the aliens' throats as he goes.

Duke: Nuclear Winter

Aliens have invaded Santa's grotto, and it's up to Duke to rescue the jolly fat man. Facing down snowmen and evil elves will be a tough challenge, but the real question is: have you been naughty or nice?

Duke Nukem's Penthouse Paradise

This is an official add-on level for Duke Nukem 3D, available exclusively from GT Interactive and Penthouse Magazine. Taking place between Duke Nukem 3D and the Plutonium PAK, aliens interrupt Duke's vacation and a couple of Penthouse photo shoots. Duke has to fight his way through a hotel, clubs and finally the Penthouse offices.

Duke!ZONE, Duke!ZONE 150, and Duke!ZONE II

A product called Duke!ZONE was once sold by WizardWorks, which contained over 500 levels made by fans of Duke Nukem 3D. A smaller edition of Duke!Zone was created that features 150 levels, named Duke!ZONE 150. WizardWorks later created an add-on called Duke!ZONE II, which contained three episodes of its own design and the same 500+ levels from the first D!ZONE.

Duke Xtreme

An add-on developed by Sunstorm Interactive, containing 50 levels and various utilities. It has sometimes been criticized for its many technical problems.


See Also: Category:Compilations Best of Mega Edition

Contains the content of the 3 CDs from the "MEGA" series: Blood Mega, Mega Duke and Megacities. It includes as printed: new Levels, utilities and editors for games: - Witches - Quake - Duke Nukem 3D - Descent - Descent 2 - SimCity and SimCity 2000. Cover and description in German.

East Meets West

Combination of the full editions of Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition v 1.5 and Shadow Warrior v 1.2. This set was packaged by Matt Saettler and released in 1998.

Duke Nukem 3D: Kill-A-Ton Collection

Contains Duke Nukem 3D, Plutonium Pak, Duke it Out in D.C., Duke Xtreme, Duke!Zone II, Duke Nukem, Duke Nukem II and a few other items. It was re-released on Steam in May 2015 as Duke Nukem: Kill-A-Ton 2015 Collection and includes everything previously mentioned (with the exception of Duke Nukem 3D v1.3d and Duke Xtreme), plus three other expansions, Duke Caribbean: Life's a Beach, Duke: Nuclear Winter, and Duke! Zone II, as well as Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project and the Balls of Steel game.

Duke: The Apocalypse

A bundle containing Duke Xtreme and Duke!ZONE II, and a T-shirt.

Duke: The Apocalypse 2

Contains Duke!Zone, Duke it Out in D.C., a strategy guide and a T-shirt.

Megaton Edition

Released through Steam on March 20, 2013, the Megaton Edition includes Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition, Duke Caribbean: Life's a Beach, Duke it Out in D.C., and Duke: Nuclear Winter all running on OpenGL, as well as the original MS-DOS version of Duke Nukem 3D. It supports SteamPlay for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Universe of levels

This is a typical multi-game Add-on CD. This CD includes levels and tools for: - Duke Nukem 3D - Witches - Quake - and many other games/ on the cover are covers of other add-on CDs: - Mega Blood - Mega Duke - Megacities - More Duke - and many more. The cover sheet and description are in German. origin: Germany.

Console ports

See Also: Category:Duke Nukem 3D ports

A port is a version of a game that has been made playable in a different format (i.e. from PC to console, or from DOS to Windows/Linux). Usually there will be few or no differences between the original game and its ports, although differences may exist because of differing capabilities of the new systems. It is also possible for the game being ported to be altered either in a small way (e.g. different artwork) or a large way (e.g. altered level layouts, different weapons/items). Duke Nukem 3D has been ported to various consoles: Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown

The PlayStation port of the game. It plays just as the original, and includes the original 3 episodes, plus one new episode exclusive to this port: Episode 4: Plug 'N' Pray.

Duke Nukem 64

The Nintendo 64 port of the game. It varies a lot from the original game, relatively speaking, with many of the levels being changed for various reason (e.g. removing strip bars and replacing them with gun shops in an attempt to make the game less explicit). It also features a new set of weapons, and some new enemies. Finally, it includes a fully 3D rendered model of various effects and the Cycloid Emperor.

Duke Nukem 3D (Sega Saturn version)

The Sega Saturn port of the game, ported by Lobotomy Software and published by Sega. It is the only console port to feature real 3D worlds, a result of Lobotomy's SlaveDriver engine which the port uses. It features online gaming by utilizing the Sega NetLink, it supports the console's analog pad, and it features a hidden multiplayer mini-game called Death Tank Zwei.

Duke Nukem 3D (Sega Mega Drive version)

A little-known port of the game, as it was released only in Brazil for the Sega Mega Drive. It is a much simplified version of the game, going so far as to only include a highly simplified version of the second episode, Lunar Apocalypse.

Duke Nukem 3D (for Game.com)

A port for the Game.com, Tiger's short lived handheld system.

Duke Nukem 3D (Xbox 360)

A port for the Xbox 360, released in the Xbox Live Arcade. It features on-line multiplayer support (both Dukematch and Co-op modes), and its own achievements. This version has many fixes as well as new quotes for the same weapons from the original game. There have also featured a much stronger mighty foot making it much easier for "quick-kick" kills.

Duke Nukem 3D (iPhone/iPod Touch)

The game includes the primary 3 episodes and all of the main sound fx, but does not include background music in-game. There is no multiplayer option and the frame rate tends to fall dramatically when multiple enemies are on-screen. Lacks mirror reflection effects and the ability to peer through windows to outdoor areas.

Duke Nukem 3D (Nokia N900)

On December 29, 2009, Duke Nukem 3D was released for a Nokia SmartPhone. As shown in a MaemoWorld's video, Duke is controlled using the Qwerty keypad and touchscreen.

Duke Nukem 3D (Grip Games)

An LCD game based off of Duke Nukem 3D was also created by Tiger Electronics.

Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition (PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita)

Was released on January 6, 2015 in North America and January 7, 2015 in Europe.[26][27] It is a port of the Megaton Edition released on Steam for Windows, Mac and Linux. It was developed by General Arcade for PC, ported to consoles by Abstraction Games and published by Devolver Digital. It features Cross-Buy and Cross-Play between both platforms.

High Resolution Pack

Main article: High Resolution Pack

This pack contains replacements to the existing artwork of Duke Nukem 3D, in the form of high-resolution artwork. This includes replacing many sprites with proper 3D models, and the rest of the sprites and tiles with high-resolution counterparts. It is an ongoing project, and is entirely fanbase-driven.


Game engine/Tools creator
President of 3D Realms, Executive Producer, Project/Director, level creator
Level creator, Assistant Director, Original Concept
Programming, Original Concept
Additional Programming
Additional Programming
Game Art
Cover Illustration
Graphic Design
Graphic Design
3D Modeling
Voice Talent
Music/Sound Effects
Special Thanks to:
Special Thanks to:
Special Thanks to:
Special Thanks to:
Special Thanks to:
Special Thanks to:
Music/Sound Effects
Special Thanks to:

Pro‑motions Production Company

Music/Sound Effects
Special Thanks to:
3D Modeling
Additional Game Art, Additional 3D Modeling
Level creator
Additional Game Art
Game Art
Game Art
Level creator
Level creator
Voice of Duke Nukem

External links

Duke Nukem 3D
Episodes L.A. Meltdown | Lunar Apocalypse | Shrapnel City
Plutonium PAK: The Birth
Anniversary Edition: Alien World Order
Items Access Card | Holoduke | Jetpack | Night Vision Goggles | Portable Medkit
Protective Boots | Scuba Gear | Steroids
Health: Small Medkit | Large Medkit | Atomic Health | Armor
Scrapped: Space Suit | Shield
Weapons Mighty Foot | Pistol | Shotgun | Chaingun Cannon | RPG | Pipe Bomb | Shrinker
Expander | Devastator | Laser Tripbomb | Freezethrower | Incinerator
Scrapped: Flamethrower | Laser Chainsaw | Sonic Resonator | Tazer | Plasma Cannon
Enemies Common enemies: Assault Captain | Assault Commander | Enforcer | Assault Trooper | Battlelord Sentry | Octabrain | Pig Cop | Protozoid Slimer | Recon Patrol Vehicle | Sentry Drone | Shark | Turret
Plutonium PAK: Pig Cop Tank | Protector Drone
Anniversary Edition: Firefly Trooper | Cycloid Sentry | Overlord Sentry
Bosses: Battlelord | Overlord | Cycloid Emperor
Plutonium PAK: Alien Queen
Anniversary Edition: Cycloid Incinerator
Scrapped: Alien Queen Sentry | Bat | Captain | Drone | Drone 2 | Femanoid | Mandroid
Organic Turret | Scorpion Tank | Snake Head | Trooper | Turret
Expansion packs
and add-ons
Duke Assault | Duke Nukem 3D Level Design Handbook (CD levels) | Duke Caribbean: Life's A Beach | Duke: Nuclear Winter | Duke It Out In D.C.
Duke Xtreme | Duke!ZONE | Duke!ZONE 150 | Duke!ZONE II | Plutonium PAK | Duke Nukem's Penthouse Paradise | Unofficial expansion packs
Fan community User maps | Mods & Total Conversions | Speedruns
Source ports | High Resolution Pack
Other Difficulty | Hazards | Multiplayer | Cheat codes | Easter eggs
Quotes | Music | Duke Nukem
Build engine | Game bugs | Unused data | LameDuke
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.