id Software are masters of their craft and their goal has always been to develop top of the line first person shooters since the 90s. Now with the help of Nightdive Studios, MachineGames and Bethesda, the original Quake with previous expansions and new content makes its way to consoles in celebration of its 25th anniversary. Surprisingly, Quake holds up today, and this updated release might kindle a flame of possibility for a new title in the series (well, if you can ignore whatever Quake Champions was). What it comes down to is how authentic it still is underneath the graphical uplift.
Quake looks clean and crisp on Sony’s last-gen consoles, both at 1080p 60 frames per second on the base machine, and 4K 60 frames on the Pro model. With the bump in resolution, textures and models were also updated to compliment the sharper image. The Options menu offers customizable graphics options like turning various enhancements on or off. Just being able to turn off motion blur from the outset was a very good thing for me and if you’d rather have the game look even closer to what it was like before, features like Antialiasing and Ambient Occlusion can be toggled off as well.
"Quake holds up today, and this updated release might kindle a flame of possibility for a new title in the series. What it comes down to is how authentic it still is underneath the graphical uplift."
Lighting is better too as it is more drawn out and smoother than before. But it is still distinctly Quake, and that is what will matter most to series fans. As someone with fresh eyes, I appreciate the approach taken with this relaunch. There was a lot of care and consideration put into what changed and how by id Software and Nightdive Studios that will ultimately please fans. Bethesda and Co. state that there will be an update coming for free with the PlayStation 5 version enabling 4K at 120 hertz for capable displays. However, this release is not just about the visual uplift, but it’s content rich too.
Aside from the original’s two map packs and Dimension of the Past that was released for the title’s 20th anniversary, this version for the 25th anniversary adds Dimension of the Machine; a new set of maps designed by MachineGames. This expansion looks the part, but goes beyond what came before in terms of visuals. Aside from a free Quake 64 add-on, consoles will also receive free curated mods in the future, giving the game surprising longevity on console. I’m glad that Bethesda is continuing to allow mods from PC versions of games to appear in console versions.
Quake brings pristine level layouts to the table and it’s safe to say that they stand the test of time. This applies to the new maps as well but as a newcomer, I was challenged from the outset with the labyrinthian style maps. Later stages can be hard pills to swallow but the idea of just “one more try” kept me going. Each map has any number of enemies to slay, secrets and easter eggs to find and layered completion objectives asking for very lateral thinking. Replayability is a strength of this collection, as every level is selectable from the start which allows for quick hop in, hop out gameplay. Encouraging mastery is something that the game excels at and is one of the game’s greatest strengths. Thankfully, the quality of the map design is complimented by smooth and fast traversal.
"Quake brings pristine level layouts to the table and it’s safe to say that they stand the test of time."
Quake demands a level of speed and map knowledge is important as levels are twisting labyrinths that command memorization. It is amazing how well maps are designed despite those levels do not usually go beyond boxed rooms and hallways. On the surface, this does not seem very intricate but it is the verticality above and below the ground floor that gives the layouts their variety. There are areas hidden away following an underwater room or a hole in the wall above a platform that reveals a weapon or armor upgrade. It is a very simple yet effective way to make navigation challenging, yet rewarding.
Throughout each maze, you will encounter a variety of creatures looking to stand in your way. The AI itself for enemies is great on its own for all difficulties too. Foes have several ways to hunt players down, where each battle can seem like elaborate dance as you dodge and weave through projectiles, lunging attacks and more. Once I got used to the movement speed while fighting against varied groups, that is when the game really clicked with me, giving off a rush of excitement. Better yet, the arsenal of weapons to pick up also keeps gameplay thrilling. Understand that enemy, weapon, and pick-up placement do not change when a map resets. When deaths occur, and they will, each attempt is another chance to push further, creating an addictive gameplay loop.
The implementation of sound design gives mixed results. It is upped in sample quality but the stereo is very inconsistent when using headphones. This makes spatial awareness a bit difficult sometimes, and that is vital to a title like this. It may be a side effect of the PlayStation 5’s audio engine being applied to this PS4 title via backwards compatibility, so take that with a grain of salt. Taste varies of course and everyone will use different headphones and other devices, so it might work better for you. In my experience however, this game’s sound design was lacking. This aspect of the game seemed like a product of its time compared to other elements.
"In my experience, the sound design was lacking. This aspect of the game seemed like a product of its time compared to other elements."
Quake on consoles and PC has excellent cross platform play implementation for multiplayer. Any platform can play with any other which can’t be more of a positive. Thankfully, a Bethesda account isn’t required to play any of the single player offerings. Flexibility in who you can play with is a very welcome sight, especially on the PlayStation platforms. One feature that this version lacks at launch is mouse and keyboard support. The menus for the feature exist but it is not implemented quite yet. Hopefully this is enabled in the near future, since turning on cross play can be seen as giving console users an inherent disadvantage. In the Options menu, there is full mutton mapping and stick aiming options and inverted look to help those who prefer controllers find what works for them. Gyro-motion aiming is also available for this port.
There are many multiplayer maps, and the pacing of matches is brisk which really adds to its fun factor. Maps are tight as weapons and pickups have set collection points in abundance which makes memorization even more important than before. Even though time to kill is high from my experience, knowing exactly where to go for extra ammo, health or armor is very valuable. Map awareness matters just as much, if not more than skilled shooting in my opinion.
Deathmatch is the only mode on offer which is a welcome albeit plain and simple approach to multiplayer. Not adding modes from sequels might just sour the authenticity of this release. This knows what it wants and needs to be. Nothing earned or gained by winning or losing, so that kept me wanting to play more and more. Players may either join a lobby that’s already established, create one, or queue up to be randomly matched with others.
"Quake’s 2021 enhanced port brings a fresh coat of paint, and new content. Multiplayer keeps things simple and the lighting from weapons is bothersome, but matches are quick and the maps are well designed across the board."
While maps are plentiful, varied, and crossplay is certainly a plus, it is hard on the eyes in tense fights. In this mode regardless of how clear the updated effect is, most firearms emit a yellow light effect in time to that gun’s rate of fire. The light is wide enough to where it becomes a distraction when trying to finish off opponents. This is something solo modes thankfully do not see.
Quake’s 2021 enhanced port brings a fresh coat of paint, and new content. Multiplayer keeps things simple and the lighting from weapons is bothersome, but matches are quick and the maps are well designed across the board. There are some aspects of the audio that don’t quite hit the mark. This release brings longevity to the table, opening the door for community created content to come to consoles. Made by an excellent ensemble of developers including id Software, Nightdive Studios, MachineGames and Bethesda, this is still the definitive way to play one of the classic FPS titles that paved the way for modern franchises. Hopefully this leads to more in the franchise.
The PS4 version of the game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5 via backwards compatibility.
Faithful graphical update that improves on the original’s vision; New map pack; Couch co-op and crossplay on all platforms; Great map variety; Future curated mod support for consoles.
Dated sound design; Stereo audio is inconsistent; Gunfire lighting is somewhat vexing in multiplayer; No mouse and keyboard support at launch for consoles.