Public multiplayer betas are a pretty common facet of PC gaming these days. A public alpha, though? That's not something you read about everyday. Yet that's what the folks at Unknown Worlds plan to do with Natural Selection 2, the stand-alone sequel to the popular Half-Life mod.
Framing the move as an outreach to the community (without which the studio "wouldn't be here today"), Unknown Worlds says the playable alpha of Natural Selection 2 will come out on Monday, July 26. Only users who pre-ordered the Special Edition of the game will get access. The alpha will contain:
One of our shipping maps (ns2_tram), plus some smaller "test" maps Marine, with Rifle, Pistol, SwitchAx, Grenade Launcher (oops, and shotgun!) Skulks, Gorges, Lerks and their basic movement abilities and weapons Marine armory "buy" screen for purchasing new equipment Alien evolution menu for choosing your lifeform and upgrades Basic marine and alien commander interfaces including MACs, Drifters Much of our final sounds, artwork, animations, etc.
For those who haven't figured out that "alpha" comes before "beta," Unknown Worlds points out that "parts of [the alpha release] are rough." Gasp! Patches will come at a frequency of one to four per month, though, so lucky participants may get to see the game being shaped into its final form before their eyes... and possibly between crashes. (Thanks to Shacknews for the link.)