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Dirty Bomb is a free-to-play modern combat game that marries e-sports and classic shooter action. Set in a bombed-out London of the future, it makes a sport out of war. Mercenaries fight for riches and bragging rights in this first-person shooter title.

I checked out the game at a Nexon event this week, and you can see a video excerpt of the live action below. It’s pretty intense, but it’s also got a good sense of humor. It’s as light-hearted as mercenary combat in a radioactive killing zone can be.

The multiplayer combat game from developer Splash Damage plays very fast, and that’s no surprise since it’s a spiritual successor to Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, an online shooter that debuted in 2007. It’s difficult to learn and impossible to master, according to Nexon, the big Asian online game company that launches it today. It has seven mercenary characters and five maps. It has two game modes with five-vs-five and eight-vs-eight combat.

We tried out two maps: Terminal and Bridge. In both maps, you have to fight to blow up some objectives and then reach a secondary goal. Each side takes a turn at offense or defense. It takes a lot of skill to win. With the assault rifle, I had to pump five or six bullets into targets. But if I stayed out in the open, chances were someone else would target me in the meantime. You also have to use secondary abilities, like dropping ammo or medkits for your comrades, or setting up a turret in a high-traffic kill zone.

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Nexon and Splash Damage plan to upgrade Dirty Bomb on a regular basis. If you pay $20 for the startup pack, you’ll get all seven Mercs at once. But if you don’t, you’ll have access to a rotation of three characters at any given time. You can earn goodies over time, so it isn’t a “pay to win” game. Nexon says the key to teamwork is “don’t be a dick.” And educate those who oppose you with bullets. In fact, it pays to cooperate with your teammates.

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