Duke Nukem 3D is a first person shooter from developer 3D Realms. It was released in 1996 for MS-DOS based PCs, originally as shareware. With it being shareware players were able to play through a portion of the game for free in hopes of enticing a purchase of the full version. The shareware model of software release was popular in the 1990s. It was used by other popular shooters from the time such as Doom and Wolfenstein 3D.
Set sometime in the 21st century, Duke Nukem picks up where Duke Nukem II left off. On his return to Earth, Duke is show down over Los Angeles to find the planet under attack. He cancels his much needed vacation to fight and defeat the aliens at whatever the cost.
Duke Nukem 3D was very popular, selling more than 3 million copies. Similar to the release of the Doom source code, 3D Realms also released the source code for Duke Nukem 3D in 2003 and since then a number of free source clones have been developed and released.
The first clone was released by icculus.org where it is still available but no longer receives updates. EDuke32, released in 2004, is by far the most popular source port. It continues to receive updates and is available for Linux, Mac and Windows PCs. The port also updates things such as game-play to include a new heads up display, WSAD/Mouse controls and more. It also features support for high resolution displays, multiplayer capability and the same great single player story found in the original game.
In a word, no, the game is not free. The game’s source code has been released as open source and numerous ports are readily available for free download. However, many of those require files from the original game in order to play. You can get around some of this by downloading the Shareware version for free and using those files along with the port.
In order to play the game you will need to download both an source port and at least the shareware version of the game. Links to both the EDuke32 Source Port and the shareware version of the game are below. Other ports can be found on the Duke Nukem fandom wiki page. If you’re looking to play the original game in its MS-DOS format you will need to run using DOSBox.
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