Dusk weapons and enemies guide
As a self-styled old-school first-person-shooter, Dusk assumes a lot about its audience. For those of us who never knew the less-than-soothing love song of a 56k modem, though, the game can seem inscrutable at times, and maybe even a little brutal.
To help remedy that, here’s a short crash course that’ll help you blow the cultists back to Hell.
Slot 1: Sickles
Pros: Quick hits
Cons: Everything else
Let’s be honest - in a game that so prominently features hordes of the undead, you have to be pretty desperate to swing a pair of tiny blades around and expect to get anywhere. The Sickles hit fast, but their low damage output makes them essentially useless past the first few levels of the game, doubly-so against monsters that hit hard at close range, like the Leatherneck. In the unlikely event you run out of ammo, you’re better off tossing rocks or other level geometry at your opponents - or, better yet, loading an old save. If you’re really good, you can reflect a projectile with a quick swipe, but good luck with hitting that consistently. They make a striking logo for the game, though.
Slot 2: Pistol (2x)
Pros: High rate-of-fire, good range, massive ammo pool
Cons: Extremely low damage, easily outclassed by the Assault Rifle
The pistol has a long and ignominious history as the second-most useless weapon in classic shooters like Duke Nukem 3D and Doom, but don’t let that dissuade you - I found myself using the dual-wielded pistols deep into the second episode of Dusk, even on the hardest difficulty. Sure, it takes dozens of bullets to down most of your foes, but their near-perfect accuracy and copious amounts of ammo make them a great last resort when you’ve run through your stack of rifle bullets. Like most low-damage weapons, the pistols are best-utilized against enemies that fire languid projectiles, such as the Mage.
Slot 3: Shotgun (2x)
Pros: Constant rate-of-fire, good damage, surprising range
Cons: Shares ammo pool with Super Shotgun
The shotgun is probably the most ubiquitous weapon in FPS history, and Dusk’s lever-action variant functions pretty much exactly as you’d expect: get close to the bad guys and pull the trigger. This version takes its cues from ‘90s shooters - surprise, surprise - by boasting a much tighter spread and a higher-rate of fire than modern-day monstrosities like Gears of War’s Gnasher. Even hours after nabbing the precious Super Shotgun, your less-stupendous pair remains the most efficient way to deal with most of the game’s basic enemies without wasting precious ammo, so it’s worth keeping them around.
Slot 4: Super Shotgun
Pros: Absolutely unrivaled damage
Cons: Glacial rate-of-fire, incredibly limited range, burns through ammo
Pound-for-pound, the super shotgun is one of the best weapons in Dusk, provided that you have the mobility to back it up. Though it eats through shells like nobody’s business, at point-blank range, the coachgun actually deals double the damage of two shells from its single-shot cousin, which makes it powerful enough to down all but the studliest demons in just one or two shots. It takes an age to load, though, and it’s less adept at stun-locking enemies, which makes it a poor choice against quick-firing enemies like the Soldier. Still, in the right situation, you can’t beat its raw damage output, so get use to sticking and moving and it’ll soon become your best friend.
Slot 5: Assault Rifle
Pros: Good range, rate-of-fire, and damage
Cons: Limited ammo pool
At its best, the game’s assault rifle is an incredibly versatile tool. It reduces the lethality of heavyweight monsters like the Welder by interrupting their attacks, and it can wipe out mobs of lower-tier enemies like Scientists or Soldiers at range or up close with ease. If anything, it’s too useful - I constantly found myself running through its stock of 200 bullets again and again, particularly towards the more open-concept levels towards the end of Episode 2. Pick your battles well: save your ammo for large arenas, and you’ll find that those rounds go a lot further.
Slot 6: Hunting Rifle
Pros: Best-in-class damage and range
Cons: Bolt-action, somewhat limited ammo
Though it lacks a real scope, Dusk’s version of the Quake 3 railgun simply shines in the right circumstances. For my money, it’s the best way of picking off the tougher enemies that Dusk introduces in Episode 2, like the Duke and the Welder, preferably at range. Its stock of fifteen bullets doesn’t go very far, but the game dumps its ammo on you often enough to use it when you have to, especially if you’re consistently hitting secret areas. Overall, if you can keep a handful of rifle bullets around, and make your shots count, you’ll find that the Hunting Rifle cuts the difficulty of the game’s stiffest combats down significantly, even on Cero Miedo.
Slot 7: Crossbow
Pros: Penetrates walls and enemies
Cons: There are better tools for almost every scenario
When I first picked up the crossbow, I was rather confused - though it bears a heavy resemblance to Heretic’s medievalized take on the shotgun, they actually have very little in common. Instead, it’s a single-shot arrow that can tear a straight line through anything, from enemies to walls. In my experience, this makes the crossbow highly situational, best used to chip away at far-off targets or to slice a path through crowds of low-level enemies. It’s rarely the best weapon for any job, but its unique capabilities make it useful in a pinch.
Slot 8: Mortar
Pros: Great damage, undeniable versatility, decent ammo pool
Cons: Learning curve, risk of blowing yourself up
Like any grenade launcher, the mortar takes some getting used to - one errant bounce can send one of its explosive bounty careening towards you. Still, its remote detonation ability gives you a variety of offensive options, from setting traps around blind corners to the always-effective fire-and-forget. Though I tended to neglect the grenade launcher in the opening episode, preferring more direct weapons, I came to rely on it in the latter stages of Episode 2 - it makes mincemeat of the mechanical megamonsters known as Cowgirls. A solid pick, provided you know how to use it.
Slot 9: Riveter
Pros: Pretty much everything
Cons: The internal debate over using your best resource
No ifs, ands, or buts - the riveter is hands-down the best weapon in Dusk, and the game wants you to know it. Though it’s essentially a rocket launcher, no other weapon can compare to the sheer volume of damage that a full clip of 25 rivets can lay down. As such, you should save it for particularly challenging sections, like boss-fights, or massive hordes in tricky terrain. Though Dusk can be a little stingy with rivets, near the end of each episode, I was simply drowning in the things, so fire away.
Slot 1 Revisited: Magic Sword
Pros: Damage, damage, damage
Cons: Everything else
You’ll only find this shining blade in secret areas, and for good reason: it epitomizes risk-vs.-reward. Its swings are slow and pendulous, but it hits like a truck, especially if you charge it up for triple damage. Since you have to be at above 100 health to utilize the power-strike, it’s best saved for combat in tight corridors against single-targets that can soak up a lot of punishment, like the Wendigo. Though I prefer the bark of the super shotgun, given enough practice, the sword is an offensive powerhouse - until you get hit, at least.
Slot 0: Cigar
Pros: Heals 1 health in style
Cons: Lung cancer
Nearly every shooter of the era that Dusk echoes had a gag weapon like this, so you can’t fault them for consistency. It’s mostly useless, but at least you look cool, in a terrible Duke Nukem way. It also doubles as a telescope: its “zoom” is spectacular.
Compare to: Demon (Pinky), Doom
Threat level: medium
These chainsaw-toting cultists might be the first enemies you encounter in Dusk,, but don’t let that fool you - on higher difficulties, their considerable speed and high damage make them one of the deadlier foes in the game. They’re best taken on at range, but a few shotgun shells up-close do the job just fine.
Compare to: Imp, Doom (2016)
Threat level: medium/low
Much like the Leatherneck, despite its prevalence in the early hours of the game, these bulls hit harder than their small frame would suggest, and their projectiles come at you very quickly. Still, they take only a few shots to kill with practically any weapon, so treat them as priority targets and you shouldn’t have a problem.
Compare to: Imp, Doom
Threat level: low
These guys are mostly a joke - their robes make them easy to hit, and their fireballs are laughably slow. Still, in packs, they can really mess you up, so don’t dilly-dally. Circle-strafing with your pistols or your shotguns is the order of the day here.
Compare to: N/A
Threat level: medium/high
This writhing sack of straw packs a super shotgun, so you really don’t want to be close to him. Though you can dodge his blasts if you’re strafing fast enough, the combination of ranged weapons like the assault rifle and cover is the best way to really reduce his lethality. If you’re stuck in a room with him, turn your own super shotty on him and just hope you can get out of the way of his barrage first.
Compare to: Hell Knight, Doom
Threat level: high
You won’t run into very many of these witch-types, but they’re basically just the Welder’s little sister, with mondo health and a lightning-quick fork projectile. Just unload on her with your best weapons at range, and she’ll go down eventually.
Compare to: Zombieman, Doom
Threat level: low
These gas-masked shock troops are the closest thing to a hitscan (instant-hit, with no chance to dodge) enemy in Dusk, but you can knock them down with a stiff breeze. Like the Mage, they can present problems in packs, but I recommend taking them out first, as their assault rifle fire is a lot harder to get out of the way of than a Welder’s fire blast. If you can surprise them, the sword can really mess a small group of these guys up.
Compare to: Baron of Hell, Doom
Threat level: high
Slow, resilient, and packing enough gasoline to burn down the foundry they came from, the Welders are some of the toughest enemies in Dusk. Their fireballs cover ground fast and knock off significant chunks of your health, and their tank on their back blows up with a large blast radius when they finally bite the bullet, so keeping your distance is key. The hunting rifle is by far the best way to deal with them from far away, but the super shotgun works well in cramped corridors, provided that you move out of the way of their final explosion. Don’t be afraid to use your heaviest armaments against large waves of them - they make up some of the hardest encounters in the game.
Compare to: Revenant, Doom
Threat level: high/extreme
The big brothers of the Mages, these robed cultists are first introduced in a boss fight, and for good reason: their fireballs home in on you. If you’ve mastered the subtle art of reflecting damage with the Sickles, they’re a breeze - for the rest of us, however, they should absolutely be your first target in a battle, especially if they’re flanked by mobs. Most of my dozen-or-so deaths on Cero Miedo came at the hands of these guys, so whip out the riveter or the hunting rifle and wipe them out as soon as you can.
Compare to: Spectre, Doom
Threat level: high
Congratulations, Dusk: your messed-up deer creature is the first enemy to make me legitimately frightened in a first-person shooter since I was in middle-school. These guys are perfectly invisible until you hit them with an attack, but they leave bloody footprints behind them, as well as conjuring some particularly unpleasant sound cues when you’re in their attack range. I recommend firing blindly with the pistols until they reveal themselves, then knocking them back to Hell with a few well-placed super shotgun blasts.
Compare to: Cyberdemon, Doom
Threat level: extreme
If you’re savvy enough to know what E2M8 means, you certainly recognize this thing’s attack pattern, though its rockets are both faster and more numerous (five vs. three) than its obvious inspiration. If you have the space and the inclination, setting mortar traps around corners is a surefire way to take these abominations down without eating a single rocket, though it can take a bit of patience. Otherwise, just blast it with the riveter and hope for the best. If you have decent cover, the crossbow is also a decent option, but it’ll take nearly your entire stack to make a dent in her.
Mobility is everything in Dusk; if you aren’t dodging, you’re probably dying. Circle-strafing is an effective strategy against nearly every enemy in the game, so learn to love it. Bunny-hopping and other such trickjumps also work well, but they’re hardly mandatory.
Learn to prioritize targets based on their threat level and projectile speed. For example, Soldiers and Scarecrows both boast weapons that are nearly instant-hit, so take them out first.
Nearly all of the most challenging encounters in the game can be leavened through smart use of cover and range. Ambushes are a notable exception, but if you can back up and get the enemies to come at you one at a time, do it.
Though the game is fairly generous with ammo, you should still try to match your weapon to the lethality of your target whenever possible. Using all your Rivets against a mass of Mages might make you feel like a god, but you’ll be missing those rockets when you run into a pack of Dukes.
There are secret areas everywhere in the game, and most of them are fairly easy to uncover if you know what to look for. Bust open grates, duck under passages, investigate oddly-covered walls, move around furniture - you’ll never know what you might find. Completing your arsenal early in an episode gives you a huge advantage.
This might sound masochistic, but Dusk is at its best when you’re playing on the hardest difficulty you can handle. Not everybody is made for Cero Miedo, but if you’re willing to try, you’ll probably have a much more engaging experience.
Have fun, and oh yeah - good luck.