The First Person shooter genre is one the most fruitful in the games industry, combining an adrenaline packed single player campaign and a multiplayer section divided into various maps and modes to enhance the replayability of the game. While nowadays entering a multiplayer session and getting kind wishes for your mother from mature 13 year olds is considered normal, just over a decade ago the online experience was still a breath of fresh air.
One of the earliest online FPS titles was Quake. Developed by ID Software in 1996, it made its way to the MS-DOS and the Nintendo 64 among other platforms. Being a spiritual successor to Doom, created by the same ID Software, it inherited some of Doom’s characteristics, such as design and weapons. Quake incorporates first person mechanics into a fantasy shooter world, picking up weapons along the way, such as a shotgun or a rocket launcher which everyone by now has come to know and love, or also hate. At that time multiplayer was almost seen as a risk because of the lack of players seeking this feature, so the focus was on the single player story. The multiplayer component came in a Deathmatch mode, which is also known as free for all. The successor, Quake II, was not a sequel of the first, but was named Quake II because of issues getting rights for a new name. Similarly to the first, Quake II featured a single player campaign and a multiplayer mode, which was richer than the first iteration’s offerings.
Quake III Arena made its release in late 1999 and was focused on multiplayer, seeing the success of the previous games. It still included a single player component, but had less content than former instalments. Quake III was the beginning of the revolution of FPS games, because of the great success which the game enjoyed. This game is probably one of the first online FPS’s played competitively, which shows the commercial success it gathered. Successively, ID Software also released Quake 4 in 2005, continuing the story of Quake II. Despite not gaining the success of the previous games, Quake 4 gathered good scores and reviews overall, which strengthened Quake’s position as one of the best FPS series’ ever made.
Quake III was by far the most popular game of the series, mainly because of the strong multiplayer modes. I remembered a couple of years ago at a LAN event Quake 3 was hosted as a small Deathmatch tournament with winners getting smallish prizes like clothing or hats, and quite a bit was there who owned the game. This success is one of the reasons why ID software continued its work on the series and in 2010 QuakeLive launched. QuakeLive is an online-only free game running on browsers, after downloading a client file to be able to run the actual game. QuakeLive also featured payment options, by which one could unlock new maps and weapons not available to other players. Being run on browsers may have been a bit of a laggy experience for some including me, but on the whole it was really fun and kept me getting back for more. That is why I was delighted to learn of the launch of QuakeLive on Steam. The game is a real joy to play, running ever so smoothly and not lagging a bit. Even roaming a map alone is not boring because of how nostalgic it feels to play this game. The textures feel the same of old, and are rendered in high quality while keeping the pixelly feel to them. Sadly, it still features the payment options and thus not everything are available for all, but being a free title one can understand the decision. The only problem with this is that you cannot host a server, which means that to play a game with only your friends, you have to get lucky finding an empty server and also hope that no one joins in.
In terms of what Quake contributed to the FPS genre, it may be overshadowed by what its predecessor Doom did, and being developed by the same company may indirectly suggest that Quake has been just a clone based on Doom. While the foundations may be similar to Doom’s, Quake was its own game, which created its own community back then, and who may resurge with the launch of QuakeLive on Steam. Because ultimately, it is the community which makes the success of a game.
While not redefining multiplayer the way Doom or Halo did, Quake surely did its part in shaping up the First Person Shooter multiplayer. Its mechanics may not be suitable for most futuristic FPS games coming out in the next months or so because of the linear trend going on currently, but if QuakeLive goes well on Steam, one may start to see developers taking an interest in reviving a sub-genre which is almost lost, with its hopes residing also in the upcoming reboot of Unreal Tournament. All in all, Quake is no doubt one of gaming’s classics, having created its own legacy, and also with a potential for the future. What happens will only be told by them, but in the meantime, we can reminisce old times with a game of good old Deathmatch. Who’s in?