By Sam Coles:
Quake turned 20 years old recently and I can’t believe it’s been that long since the original game was released, it is a fantastic first person shooter series with great environments and games that barely have any connection with each other. Join me as I go over 20 years of Quake history.
Id Software had the idea for Quake before Doom and Wolfenstein 3D it was first advertised in Commander Keen called “Quake The Fight for Justice” it was conceptualised as an RPG similar to games like Ultima Underworld. Id found their success with Doom and Wolfenstein and had a good formula going and the development of Quake started to run into issues so much that John Romero left the company after the game was finished, they ditched the RPG idea and played it safe by making a game like Doom. This time however it is completely 3D with the character models and the environments, Quake emphasised verticality more than Doom.
Quake begins with a choice how hard do you want it? They did get rid of the creatively named difficulties from Doom and Wolfenstein, but they do fiendishly hide the Nightmare difficulty which that in its self is a test. The game again is split up into chapters with slip gates where you have to breeze through a level, kill enemies and explore for weapons and keys.
Gone is the pistol now you start with a shotgun with the super variant turning up later, each of the weapons come in pairs you have the shotgun and the super shotgun, the nail gun and super nail gun, the grenade launcher and rocket launcher. There is one weapon that does not come in a super variant and that is the Lightning gun, at one point there was going to be a chain lightning gun but it was dropped due to time restraints.
Quake’s environments are dripping in gothic atmosphere taking ques from H.P Lovecraft as some of the new members of the id team were huge fans of his works. No text or cutscenes tell the story in typical id titles the environment tells it instead with cold and brown hues that show nothing but emptiness as you hear the distant moans of enemies.
Quake’s physics were a step up from Doom you had to tread dangerous environments with molten lava etc. so the natural evolution was the ability to jump. Players managed to exploit the jumping by combining the explosions of the rocket launcher to bring a new advance movement to the genre called “Rocket Jumping” this lets you propel yourself to insane heights accessing places you thought were out of bounds.
What people remember Quake for the most is the multiplayer, Quake was the first successful online multiplayer and spawned the E-Sports culture, yes Doom had multiplayer but it didn’t have that much of an impact compared to Quake. Multiplayer was Deathmatch only but people found new strategies of controlling your character like strafe jumping and bunny hopping. Like Doom Quake was very mod friendly where modders were creating their own games and the most famous one was Team Fortress where they filled the void of objective based modes and team based modes.
Quake was a resounding success with critics and we wouldn’t have to wait too long for a sequel only a year later for Quake II and it was radically different in style and tone compared to the first.
Quake II (1997):
Quake II came out a mere two years after the first game and to begin with it wasn’t called Quake but one thing lead to another and they ended up calling it Quake II so it would sell and you can tell that it wasn’t a Quake game because it ditches the gothic style. It has a story a thin one but it’s there, you play as a lone space marine as your unit was wiped out by the menacing alien race known as the Strogg they’re a mix of cybernetic parts and different races across the universe spliced together.
The gameplay was a step up from the last game with faster movement and smoother animation with great gunplay. They still maintain some of the paired weapons like the shotgun, super shotgun, machine gun and chaingun with a few new additions like the hyperblaster and my personal favourite the rail gun! The rail gun is absolutely devastating as you can one shot most enemies but it does take a few seconds to recharge with each shot so it’s a high risk and high reward weapon it’s a staple in the multiplayer.
Quake II stepped up the mark with the multiplayer with maps that were designed for with the added mobility with rocket jumping etc. and other mods like Action Quake flocked to it and was one of the most played multiplayer games of the time. When the time came to release another Quake game id Software made one of the most risky decisions with the third game.
Quake II did get a couple of console ports on the PlayStation and N64 the PlayStation version was not very good as it didn’t bother to use the dualshock sticks and used the d-pad. The N64 version on the other hand was a fantastic port utilising the 64’s ram expansion pack and the controller was a perfect fit for the genre.
It would only be two years until the next Quake game and it would define online multiplayer for shooters for years to come.
Quake III: Arena (1999):
If you were to release a game like Quake III these days the comment sections on Youtube videos and forums would be flooded with comments like “No campaign no sale” you know idiots who are naïve and have no idea. Quake was known more for its multiplayer so id Software capitalised on that and made the third game multiplayer only and it was a great success and very impressive and you have to bear in mind that this was 1999 people were still using 56k dial up.
This really defined the arena shooter where you didn’t have perks, loadouts or levels it was all about your reflexes and something that most fps does not have any more map control. Map control was a big aspect of that game you had to know where the health is and where the best weapons are to gain the advantage because if you didn’t you would be turned into mincemeat.
Quake III was also notable for the first game where it was required an open GL graphics card to run it as it abandoned software support so if you didn’t have a 3D graphics card for your PC you were left playing solitaire.
Quake III did have a few console ports like on the PS2 which was a four player splitscreen version of the game as Sony didn’t really do online games at that point and the Dreamcast version. The Dreamcast version had full online support but they ran into a problem where PC players found a way to access the Dreamcast servers then proceeded to thrash the console players as controllers don’t have the speed and accuracy of a mouse and keyboard.
Quake 4 (2005):
Whenever I see people talk about Quake 4 on the internet it’s generally in a negative light and I don’t know why in my opinion I think it was the last of the traditional first person shooter before Call of Duty took over. Quake 4 was released in 2005 on PC and as a launch title for the Xbox 360 and was not developed by id Software as Raven Software took the reins with id supervising.
Quake 4 is a direct sequel to Quake II where you’re cleaning up after the marine from the second game pushing back the last of the Strogg forces and you then find out that the leader of the Strogg is not dead. There is a bigger empathises on team work in this game as you’re generally with a squad of marines who will assist you in firefights, replenish your health or armour.
The game runs on the Doom 3 engine with some really impressive dynamic lighting which you just don’t see in games these days with dark and dingy corridors with flicking lights and it just builds the atmosphere beautifully.
There are moments where you’re alone which evokes Doom 3 with the dark corridors except you can hold a gun and a torch with your pistol or machine gun which is good and it does get really tense.
One of the most notable parts of the game is when you’re turned into a Strogg soldier and what this does is that you can access Strogg areas and it increases your health by 25 and you can run a lot faster it’s a gory and graphic part and really stands out.
So where is Quake now? Well there were a couple of spin offs like the Enemy Territory a multiplayer game which was made by the same guys who worked on the Return to Castle Wolfenstein Multiplayer which was a lot of fun. There was an in browser version of Quake III called Quake Live which was pretty good for an in browser game. What’s next? Well id Software announced Quake Champions at E3 2016 which is returning to the routes of Quake III which it’s going to be a multiplayer only arena shooter. Quake is a fantastic shooter and it’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years let’s hope it lasts of another 20.