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For the Duke Nukem Forever weapon, see Expander (DNF).

The Expander, also known as the Microwave Expander, is a weapon introduced in Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition and Duke Nukem 64. The Expander is an extension of the Shrinker and uses the same weapon number assignment. The player can alternate between the two weapons by reselecting the same weapon slot.

Because it is available upon obtaining the Shrinker, the Expander can be equipped for the first time on Spaceport. However, ammunition for the Expander does not appear until It's Impossible.


The Expander may not be picked by itself; instead, it becomes available to use when the player has the Shrinker and picked up some Expander ammo. When the Expander is activated, it looks similar to the Shrinker, but the crystal within is red rather than green, and an antenna reflector is mounted on the weapon.

The attack function of the Expander is the opposite of the Shrinker. Instead of shooting green projectiles, it is a hitscan weapon that emits small glowing sparks that instantly hit the enemies. Once an enemy is at the brink of death, they'll grow and expand almost double their size, and eventually explode into a shower of blood and gore, damaging any unlucky enemy or player standing near it.

While the Shrinker is better used against strong foes, the Expander may be exponentially more devastating against weaker ones.

The Expander is the most powerful hitscan weapon of the game. It has the highest damage and completely accurate auto-aim (being the highest menace in a Dukematch combat). Its side-effect increases its threat even more. Despite that, the weapon has a very limited maximum amount of ammo.

Tips and Tricks[]

  • It is a great weapon to use against groups of enemies, especially weaker ones such as Assault Troopers or Captains.
  • Considering the fact that it has a very low amount of ammo, and chews it up fast, it would be wise to hurt enemies and lower their health a bit before using the Expander; you'll save a lot of ammo doing this.


Microwave Expander data
Weapon key 7
Included ammo N/A
Ammo amount 20 (ammo for expander)
Max ammo 50
Type Hitscan
Damage ~15
Tile number
Damage 0-90
Blast radius 2048 map units
Tile number
Shots needed to kill Average
100% armor
Protozoid Slimer 1
Assault Trooper 2
Shark 3
Turret 3
Assault Captain 4
Pig Cop 7
Enforcer 7
Recon Patrol Vehicle 9
Sentry Drone 10
Octabrain 12
Protector Drone 20
Assault Commander 24
Pig Cop Tank 34
Battlelord Sentry 67
Cycloid Emperor
Alien Queen 400


  • The message displayed when picking up a Shrinker changed in the Atomic Edition from "SHRINKER" to "GOT SHRINKER/EXPANDER!". This is because the two weapons are more accurately described as one weapon with two kinds of ammo.
    • Therefore when the Shrinker is picked up, the Expander can also be selected as a weapon by pressing its weapon key or scrolling through to it. However, the only ammo for the Expander is in episode 4 The Birth, so it is useless in the first three episodes.
    • The Expander is the only weapon to be picked up with no ammo already in it.
  • There exists a full weapon sprite for the Expander. It is used in multiplayer games to indicate the weapon being used by another player. The sprite is similar in appearance to the Shrinker sprite, but with the Expander's dish on top and a red line on the side.
  • An expanded enemy, just before exploding, will be 175% of its regular size. The two exceptions to this are the Assault Commander (250%) and the Shark (140%).
    • Battlelord Sentrys will not expand and explode when killed by the Expander; instead, they use their standard death animation as if killed by any other weapon.
  • When firing the Expander, only its impact on walls/floors can be seen. This behavior not only matches the other hitscan weapons, it is also quite realistic, as microwaves are a kind of EM radiation and thus wouldn't be seen leaving streaks through the air. Only their impacts are visible.
  • If the player generates random cheat codes for Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown using an Action Replay or a Gameshark cheating device, it is possible to obtain the Expander, even though it does not actually appear in-game. The weapon is able to inflate and kill enemies, but it uses placeholder sprites and does not produce any sound.
  • There are several notable differences in how the Expander functions in Duke Nukem 64:
    • In Duke Nukem 64, as all other weapons it has new tiles. It does not contain the antenna reflector and will look exactly the same as the Shrinker except for the red crystal (and the ammo pick-up is simply a red crystal). Also the Expander has its own weapon pick-up, instead of just a ammo.
    • If the Expander is used on certain NPCs, they will grow and expand to about twice their size, but the explosion will not deal any damage to the player. This possibly could have been bad CON coding, as all explosions deal damage, but the NPC explosions do not.
    • A bug can be found which multiplayer defined Expander weapons are found in single player in a blue-like color (because Build determine a weapon as multiplayer flag using palette 1, i.e. blue tone by default). This can be explained due to bad CON coding, as the sprite was originally used as the icon displayed over the player head to show his weapon in multiplayer, it has a different statnum that doesn't allow it to be deleted through normal ways.
    • The Expander in Duke Nukem 64 is able to make a Battlelord Sentry grow and expand. They will expand to about the size of a Battlelord.
  • Raven Software's 2000 hit Soldier of Fortune features a weapon clearly inspired by the Microwave Expander. The weapons primary fire mode which fires bolts of electricity at enemies does not resemble Duke's weapons, its secondary fire mode acts in much the same way as the Expander inflating enemies until they explode, leaving their gory remains littered about.


Duke Nukem 3D
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