Together Retro Game Club: Quake Series


Presented  by Dsheinem

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“Quake won’t be just a game, it will be a movement.” – John Romero in Computer Player magazine, October 1994

A new generation of programmers was devoting their work, their lives, to realizing the Holodeck. As John Carmack said, “It’s a moral imperative that we must create this.” His contribution would be Quake. – from Masters of Doom by David Kushner


This month for Together Retro we’re doing something a bit different and encouraging members to play any and all game(s) in one particular series: Quake. Specifically, feel free to jump in with any of the following:

  • Quake (1996)
  • Quake II (1997)
  • Quake III Arena (1999)
  • Quake 4 (2005)
  • Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (2007)
  • Quake Live (2010)

This introductory post will highlight some of the background and legacy of the Quake series, but for a meatier discussion and to join us in some Quake Live, check out the forum thread!


The Quake series is the follow up to iD’s genre-defining work in Wolfenstein 3D and Doom.  Quake began development while Doom II was finishing its. The first three games in the series were developed in-house by iD, Quake 4 and Quake Wars were developed by other studios with support and input from iD.

Though some same and similar enemies and ideas occur across the Quake series, the games are not held together by any kind of narrative thread.  Thus, each works very well as a standalone experience.  The basic premise of the first game is that the earth is about to be invaded and you are tasked with collecting runes in discreet dimensions to meet the threat of a very Lovecraftian set of enemies known as the “Quake “. In the second game, which is more sci-fi than fantasy themed, players again are tasked with protecting the Earth from invasion, this time from the Strogg.  The third game is an arena shooter that focuses solely on a multiplayer-style gameplay (though there are bots and progressively difficult stages/levels/enemies on the single-player side of the game). The fourth game sees the player once again engage the Strogg. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is a prequel of sorts to Quake II, but is based largely on class and vehicle-based combat, unlike the other games in the series. Quake Live is a standalone service that has updated the basics of Quake III: Arena and offered it is a new, fuller-featured experience.



The design ideas found across the games in the Quake series have done a lot to define future expectations in their respective genre or sub-genre.  This makes all of the games in the series pretty easy to pick up and play today. Quake and Quake II feel like a natural evolution of the Doom series, and players are able to approach levels in a variety of ways. Especially in these first two games, some levels require keys to pass through various areas, some levels richly reward exploration, some levels are ideal candidates for speedruns, and some levels emphasize careful gunplay. Quake III Arena is faster than many contemporary FPS multiplayer games, but it rewards a particular mix of precision, strategy, and environmental adaptation in ways that remain unique to the title; it’s pick up and play nature means that today Quake III Arena is sometimes considered an “arcade-style” arena shooter.

While Quake, Quake II, and Quake III are the main iD-centric titles in the series, there has been lots of excellent work done by others around the Quake name as well.  In addition to the well received, polished, and highly enjoyable Quake 4 and Quake Wars, the first two Quake games received expansions/mission packs that were made by other companies that went on to do some impressive work of their own. For Quake, players can check out Scourge of Armagon and Dissolution of Eternity – two mission packs that ratchet up the strange-fiction impulses of the base game and offer a few hours each of additional fragging in the original universe and engine. For Quake II, players can check out The Reckoning and Ground Zero, which weren’t quite as well received as the mission packs for the first game but nonetheless offer more opportunities to battle the Strogg. In a slightly different model, Quake III Arena’s expansion/update “Team Arena” offers some balancing and new items, models, etc.  for the base Quake III Arena game.


The Quake series has been ported to many consoles and some handhelds, and most have been reasonably well-received.

The original Quake appears officially on the Saturn and N64, though both ports lose about a half dozen levels from the original game. There is no multiplayer on the Saturn. The N64 adds one unique deathmatch map: The Court of Death. Quake has also been ported (unofficially) to the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.

Quake II appears officially on the PlayStation, the N64, and the Xbox 360. On the PlayStation, a lot of content was removed and rearranged to make the game work on the then-aged system. It can be played with the PlayStation mouse. The N64 version of Quake II, like Doom64 before it, offers a completely different Quake II single player campaign compared to the PC. A full port of Quake II was also offered on the bonus disc with Quake 4 on the Xbox 360.

Quake III Arena was ported to the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, and Xbox 360. The Dreamcast port is still played online today, and offers mouse and keyboard support. The PS2 port (Quake III: Revolution) offers a sharper focus on the single player component of the game then the PC did, and neither offers mouse/keyboard support nor online multiplayer. The 360 port is called Quake Arena Arcade and is currently available for $5 on XBLA.

Quake 4 and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars were both ported to the Xbox 360, with the latter also seeing a PS3 release.


There are many mods available for games in this series that offer everything from graphics and compatibility upgrades to total conversions.  There are some real interesting projects out there, such as this once-commercial X-Men based Quake conversion or this Dawn of Darkness conversion of Quake II. Be sure to share interesting projects you’ve found with us in the forums this month!

On the “updating the look” side of things, one of the best mods for the original Quake on PC is the Ultimate Quake Patch, which can be read about (with links to downloads for the Steam version of Quake) here.  Similarly, there’s an Ultimate Quake II Patch which you can read about here.



Perhaps even beyond the games themselves, the legacy of the Quake series is largely in the technologies that the games introduced and in the other titles that its creators went on to create. iD ended up licensing the engines that they built the Quake games around to other studios, studios that built their own worlds and ideas into and onto iD’s engines. For example, games in the Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Star Wars: Jedi Knight, James Bond, and Half-Life series all had some of their earliest entries made in the Quake engine.  This “family tree” of Quake shows the impact and evolution of iD’s work in even more detail, arguing that Quake is probably the series most responsible for some of the biggest hits over the last twenty years.


We’ll be talking strategy, sharing nostalgia, and planning matches in the forums all month. Come join us in this thread!

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One Comment

Dan says:

Never played the first games in the series but Q3A. Been playing Quake Live for some time now. Not as many players as there used to be but the community is strong.

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