First Person Shooters are currently the top genre of video games to play in the US. Any game that allows you to hold a gun and view the game in a first-person perspective is nothing more than a joyous thrill to gamers. The genre has been around for many many years with the first early adaptations of first person gameplay being from the late 70s PC games. Wolfenstein 3D brought the FPS genre to the mainstream in 1992 with Doom improving on the concept in 1993 and adding more realism to the blood and gore that could be found in the game.
John Carmack and John Romero, co-founders of id Software, were the first of their kind to truly bring out the fullness of gore in video games throughout the entire game and not just a single feature that was only seen for a few short seconds. While working on Final Doom, the last game in the Doom franchise at the time, they had also been working on a new game with a newly updated game engine that was in many ways superior to Doom’s “id Tech 1” engine. Final Doom was released on June 17th, and just 5 days later on June 22nd 1996 Quake made its debut on home PC’s as well as on the Sega Saturn and N64 consoles.
Quake was Doom’s successor in the FPS genre, having fully rendered real-time 3D graphics as opposed to Doom’s 2D rendered sprites. Online multiplayer was also easier to join in with its QuakeWorld update and the QuakeSpy software (later renamed GameSpy to support other games). Controls were a lot more fluid with mouse movement, allowing a player to have a full 360 degree view from all angles as well as opening up a new array of movements players can perform that were not possible in Doom.
Moves such as bunny hopping, strafe jumping, and rocket jumping allowed players to move faster and even jump higher than the game intended. This extended array of movement is what made multiplayer take off in popularity and it was even the first multiplayer game to be singled out as a form of eSport. Microsoft sponsored a tournament in 1997 called Red Annihilation, which was held during E3 of 1997 at the World Congress Center in Atlanta Georgia. The winner of that tournament was Dennis Fong, better known as “Thresh”, who drove away with John Carmack’s 1987 Ferrari 328 GTS cabriolet as his winning prize. This was one of the first nationwide gaming competitions held in the US with roughly 1,900 online contestants and 16 finalists who flew in to Atlanta to compete live at E3.
The plot of Quake centers around the protagonist known as Ranger who is sent to stop an enemy code-named “Quake” from invading the Earth. To do this, Ranger must collect 4 runes scattered across different dimensions within Quake to end the invasion once and for all. The environments of Quake were mostly influenced by dark fantasy settings, most notably by H.P. Lovecraft. The music was composed by Trent Reznor and the rest of the Nine Inch Nails band. Trent was a big fan of Doom during its release and lent his talents to compose the soundtrack to Quake. The songs in the game were direct CD audio files that played directly off the CD and were never installed within the Quake program directory.
Therefore, if you ever download Quake off a digital distribution site you will not be able to listen to the amazing soundtrack as it was intended. However there are some ways to get around this, so all is not lost! John Romero had the idea for the game to include third-person melee combat similar to Sega AM2’s Virtua Fighter series. id Software denied the idea because the game was already taking too long to be developed and was a very risky idea. This caused a bit of a rocky relationship between Romero and id which lead to him to leave the company after Quake was officially released. This lead to him not making any money from Quake despite being one of the leads for the project. Romero went on to create Daikatana, his envisioned game that he wanted Quake to look (it did not work well for him as the game ended a failure).
Fun Fact: Quake was the first game to build a speedrunning community and gave birth to “Quake Done Quick”, and the website “Speed Demos Archive” in 1998. SDA is the same site (alongside with the “SpeedRuns Live” community) that started the Awesome and Summer Games Done Quick marathons back in 2010 when it was originally called Classic Games Done Quick.
On March 5, 1997 Quake Mission Pack No. 1: Scourge of Armagon was released as the first of two expansions for the game. 2 weeks later on March 19th, Mission Pack No. 2: Dissolution of Eternity gets released. Between these two packs you are offered 32 new single player levels divided into 5 episodes, 2 new multiplayer levels, and a load of new enemies, bosses, power ups, ammo, and unique soundtracks for each expansion. These are the two official retail expansion releases for the game, while others were released through the internet.
An unofficial third expansion was released on April 14, 1998 titled Abyss of Pandemonium. An authorized expansion pack titled Q!ZONE was released in 1996 and for the game’s 20th anniversary MachineGames, an internal development studio of ZeniMax Madia (who are the current owners of the Quake IP) released an expansion on June 24th, 2016 called Episode 5: Dimension of the Past. This expansion features 10 new single player levels, a new multiplayer level and is set between the main game and its official retail expansions.
Fun Fact: The annual QuakeCon convention started in 1996 from a group of regular users of the #quake IRC channel. The “meetup” as it was originally planned and dubbed #quakecon, started with only 30 people meeting up at a hotel in Garland, Texas just roughly 2 miles away from the id Software offices. This grew to roughly 150 people by the end of the weekend and even garnished a surprise visit by the entire id Software team who greeted and discussed game ideas with attendees.
Quake II was released a year and a half after the original Quake release on December 9, 1997. The game used a different engine from the Quake engine used to create the original Quake. The engine used was called “id Tech 2” (also referred to as the Quake 2 Engine), and it was the engine used to create not only Quake II, but also a variety of other games such as Heretic, SiN, and Soldier of Fortune. While the Quake engine was treated as a separate engine entirely, it’s also considered just a variant of the id Tech 2 engine. This engine allowed for OpenGL accelerated graphics along with traditional sofware rendering. This allowed Quake II to render much larger levels and more wide open areas than Quake 1 could handle. Enemies also show signs of damage and wounds whenever they are hit whereas in Quake 1 it was not possible to render such small details. The game also allows you to travel inbeteween levels. This was needed in order to complete certain objectives in order to progress through the games story.
The game is set in a science fiction environment where you play as a Marine named Bitterman who is part of a mission titled “Operation Alien Overload”. Bitterman lands on the home planet of the Strogg civilization, who are planning to invade Earth. Bitterman’s mission is to fight through the Strogg capital city and assassinate the Strogg leader known as the Makron. The game was not originally going to be called “Quake II” but instead had a variety of different titles such as “Strogg”, and “Lock and Load”. After a number of failed ideas to come up with a unique title the team just stuck with Quake II as the final name.
Much like with Quake, Quake II received two official Mission Pack’s to expand on the games storyline. The first, which was released on May 31, 1998, was titled Quake II Mission Pack: The Reckoning. This expansion included 18 new single player levels, 6 new deathmatch levels, 3 new weapons, a new power-up, 2 new enemies, including 7 which were modified from their original source, and 5 new music tracks. The second expansion, titled Quake II Mission Pack: Ground Zero, was released on September 11, 1998. This included 14 new single player levels, 10 new multiplayer maps, 5 new music tracks, 5 new enemies, 7 new power-ups, and 5 new weapons. A third pack was released as not so much an expansion to Quake II, but a CD that was filled with 11 selected game mods created by users of the game as well as 12 custom deathmatch maps and included a shareware version of the GameSpy 3D software so players can play online easily and effortlessly. This pack was called “Quake II Netpack I: Extremities”
While Quake I and II were becoming huge successors in the FPS genre id noticed that a majority of gamers were playing the multiplayer aspect of the game and having more fun there than playing through the single player campaign. As a result, id Software decided to create their next entry of the Quake series as a complete arena shooter as opposed to the typical single player FPS experiences that players were familiar with. On December 2, 1999 Quake III Arena was released, and would be id’s biggest and most successful game for a long time. The game’s main draw was it’s multiplayer playability, but you could also play against AI bots in single player.
The game has no plot to follow whatsoever, but rather just simulates the multiplayer experience in a deathmatch style of play. The enemy AI characters are split between 7 tiers of difficulty and as you play through the single player matches you gradually face higher tiered AI. Quake III Arena came with 19 deathmatch maps (for 16-player arena free-for-all matches), 7 tournament maps (specialized maps for 1-on-1 matches), and 4 maps designed for Capture the Flag matches. On December 18, 2000, Quake III Team Arena was released as the sole expansion to Quake III Arena. It added on new team-based modes, new weapons, items, and player models. The expansion was not too favored as much of what was offered was already implemented through fan mods.
Fun Fact: Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory started as a Quake III mod called “Quake 3 Fortress”, which in itself was a port of a Quake 1 mod titled “Team Fortress”. Quake 3 Fortress was ported to another mod titled “Enemy Territory Fortress”, which had limited success. The team of Q3F abandoned the mod and created 2003’s hit FPS game. Meanwhile, the team behind the original Team Fortress mod...you guessed it, went on to create Team Fortress Classic in 1999 using Valve’s GoldSrc engine to promote Half-Life’s software development kit.
Quake III Arena has been the major eSports game in a variety of leagues including the Cyberathlete Amateur (and Professional) League, Electronic Sports World Cup, QuakeCon, World Cyber Games, and Dreamhack. There are two rulesets that are commonly used between these leagues. One ruleset is by using the standard Quake III Arena game with no special mods installed (also known as Vanilla Quake 3, or “VQ3” for short). The other is a specialized mod used in the game called the “Challenge Pro Mode Arena” mod (or “CPM”). This mod rebalances weapons, allow additional jumping techniques to be used, instant weapon switching, and multi-view GameTV for spectators watching the match. By August 6, 2010, eSports leagues would migrate to the updated version of Quake III Arena titled Quake Live.
It would be 6 long years before the next installment of Quake was released in October 18, 2005. Quake 4 saw the return of the franchise’s single player campaign and storyline which picks up where Quake II left off. This time around you play as a Marine Corporal named Matthew Kane who joins the elite Rhino Squad to secure the aliens’ home planet Stroggos after Bitterman killed the Strogg’s leader Makron (from Quake II). You are aided with friendly NPC’s to help guide you through various objectives throughout the game. The multiplayer aspect is still similar to previous titles, but does not include playing against AI bots like in Quake III Arena. A new feature to the series is the ability to control and use outdoor vehicles like tanks and walkers to help you progress in certain areas. These vehicles are not available in multiplayer, unfortunately.
Quake 4 was primarily released for PC, Mac, and Linux, but was also a launch title for the Xbox 360 one month later. The 360 version of the game was based on the Special Collectors Edition of the game which includes Quake II and its two expansion packs. On June 19, 2011 the game was re-released when publication hands were shifted from Activision to Bethesda. The Bethesda re-release on the 360 version removed Quake II and its expansions that were originally bundled with the Activision version of the game.
Fun Fact: Legendary eSports gamer Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel started his professional gaming career at the age of 18 in 1999 participating in Quake III Arena in the CPL. He’s won roughly $450,000 in cash and prizes from 1999-2007, making him the #1 gamer to hold the record for most prize money during his active career. Fatal1ty’s final matchup before retiring from competing was during the Championship Gaming Invitational. A Quake 4 matchup against Alossandro “Stermy” Avallone from Italy resulted in Fatal1ty with his final eSports career win with a score of 24-17.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars was released on September 28, 2007 and is the successor to Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (another id developed title). It is a class-based, objective focused, team-oriented game that is completely multiplayer with no single player element whatsoever. It takes place in the same sci-fi universe as Quake II serving as a prequel to the game. Players have a choice of being either on the Global Defense Force, or the Strogg team. The gameplay is split into 4 campaigns, Africa, North America, Northern Europe, and the Pacfic. Each campaign consists of 3 objectives that are carried out throughout the match. Each set of objectives is unique to the campaign that is chosen. Objectives can range from destroying facilities, collecting intel, to simply defending a base from oncoming attacks from the other team.
Some campaigns will have you switching from offensive attack to defense mid-game or visa versa. Each team is made up of 5 classes, such as an assault class, medical specialist, engineer, fire support, and covert operative. Vehicles are also present for players to use. Both teams have unique vehicles that are designed for their team to use. Jeeps, Speedboats, Helicopters, Tanks, Trucks, Hover crafts, and more are at the players disposal. The game also has an XP reward system where after every objective completed, XP points can be used to upgrade a players speed, gun accuracy, and even unlock new weapons. These upgrades only last for the entirety of the campaign and once completed, XP is reset to 0 and all of the upgrades are lost.
Almost 10 years have passed since Quake Wars was released and the latest game in the franchise was released on August 22, 2017 titled Quake Champions. Quake Champions returns once again to the multiplayer exclusive arena shooter gameplay found in Quake Live / Quake III Arena. The game was released in Early Access on Steam for $30 until August 10, 2018 when it was announced that the game would switch to a completely free-to-play model. Like in Quake Live, players have the option of choosing a variety of characters to play as, each with a unique passive and active ability to get the edge on opposing players. The game originally included a loot box system which awarded players with a variety of cosmetic items. This system was then changed to the battle pass system where players would earn shards after completing weekly and event challenges and earn cosmetic items.
The game did not bode well towards new players as a majority of them were coming from games like Call of Duty, Fortnite, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six. Newer players were used to the slower paced style of play that jumping into Quake Champions was like starting fresh all over again. Players would continuously get fragged from every direction and not have any idea how or why they weren’t getting any kills. Part of the reason was pretty much players of the Quake series who have been playing arena shooters since the beginning of time and are used to the near 200 fps speeds and have refined quick and twitchy reflexes that have been developed overtime. Because of the huge skill gap between seasoned players and newer players, it turned many players away from the game. There is still a bit of a community that still play the game, but do be warned if you ever want to try it out for yourself and are not familiar with the fast pace of arena shooters, you may die...a lot.
While Quake may be in the shadows of Doom’s currently overwhelming success, it is still a very successful series on its own that’s managed to hold its own with each new release. What’s next for the series only time will tell. A new single player campaign? An updated arena shooter experience? Nothing’s been mentioned as to what’s next for the franchise, but I’ll certainly be looking forward to what comes next from id Software’s creative minds.