- Tall, ominous towers of doom. Does wonders for morale.
- --An anonymous GDI soldier
Nod required a powerful defensive mechanism to defend its bases, and so its scientists created the Obelisk of Light. However, though it was a powerful weapon, its lack of armor was a severe handicap for Nod forces during First Tiberium War, which meant that it could be destroyed by an Ion Cannon strike or even a group of Orca Fighters rather easily. During the interim between the First and Second Tiberium War, Nod engineers went back to work on the problem. They were able to develop a second version of the Obelisk, which was much more resilient to enemy fire, especially enemy machine gun fire. Unfortunately, though they were able to increase its power to match advances in technology between the wars, they were forced to sacrifice firing speed for this enhancement.
The exact mechanisms behind the workings of the Obelisk of Light are unavailable. However, it is known that it uses powerful capacitors located below the structure to amass energy and then, using advanced optics and focusing systems, release it in a given direction.
Due to the lack of efficient power generation of the average Nod base, the Obelisk module was limited to a large stationary base defence building. The Obelisk was therefore cumbersome and never very portable, unlike other weapons in Nod's arsenal. The Obelisk also could not fire upwards towards the sky, due to problems with focusing the power caused by the construction of the crystal. NOD commanders saw it as an acceptable trade-off.
Low-power portable experimental Obelisk modules were developed and manufactured in limited numbers in the closing stages of the First Tiberium War, issued only to the Black Hand elite soldiers, and even then, not very commonplace.
During the Third Tiberium War Nod themselves finally managed to conquer this task, equipping their mighty Avatar mechs with portable versions of the Obelisk laser. Certain other laser weapons utilised by Nod in more recent years are also based, at least in part, on Obelisk technology.
First Tiberium War
During this period, the Obelisk of light was a sloped back obelisk that ended in a large focusing crystal that projected the laser. It was under complete computer control, with humans only needed to oversee that it worked properly.
The red laser beam it produced was extremely focused, and powerful enough to reduce a human target or light vehicle, such as a Humvee, to ash instantly, and do serious damage to heavier vehicles. Furthermore, its long range allowed it to engage enemy targets before they could retaliate; an Obelisk of Light had longer range than any GDI unit.
Obelisks were always a prominent part of Nod bases, especially around important Nod structures. For example, the bases defending Sarajavo featured nearly a half dozen of these powerful base defenses, including one that was specifically assigned to defend the Temple of Nod itself.
Second Tiberium War
During the Second Tiberium War, the Obelisk had a much different, flatter base, with a light bar that oscillated back and forth when the Obelisk was operational, but stayed fixed when the Obelisk was not operational.
It is believed that this was a terror tactic towards enemy forces, as well as a way to quickly inform Nod forces if the Obelisk was charged or not. From the rear of the base, an obelisk-like tower, straight and capped with the firing crystal, stood.
The Cabal Obelisk is a powerful ground defense and the Obelisk of Darkness is the perfect anti air system. The 2 defenses are powerful but both were destroyed by GDI and Nod.
Third Tiberium War
With the coming of the Third Tiberium War, the Obelisk has been greatly improved. The Obelisk, although taking much longer to charge, is much more powerful than before. Also, its weakness against infantry has been eliminated almost entirely. This is due to the fact that the Obelisk, when facing infantry, uses sweeping low power laser beams to vaporize infantry; also, Beam Cannons can charge up an Obelisk so that its range and attack power increases. The new threats that Obelisks now face are enemy aerial assault vehicles, such as GDI's Firehawk and the various deadly Scrin aircraft, including their Devastator Warships and Planetary Assault Carriers. In addition, the Obelisk still requires a tremendous amount of power, and the destruction of power plants will render it as well as most of the base useless. Any artillery system like Beam cannon or Juggernaut can attack from outside of its range, although when fully charged by beam cannons its range can match even these systems when they are used for direct fire.
Nod managed to develop a Laser Cannon for Avatars and a triad laser cannon for the Redeemer. According to intelligence, these weapons were all based on the Obelisk's technology. The unit's immense size is probably another reason why it could use such a weapon, since a Obelisk of Light requires a large structure.