According to Critics: Every Quake Game Ranked
Quake has returned with a remastered version of the original game. Here's a dive into the critical reception of the series on console and PC.
After years of dormancy, Quake is back in the public consciousness. A long-rumoured remaster of the first game in the series is available for multiple platforms after first launching on the Microsoft Store and Game Pass. With new 4K graphics and the restoration of its original soundtrack, now is the perfect time for players to jump back into one of gaming's most influential series.
Quake's remaster might pique players' interest in the other games in the series, especially with Quake II and Quake III Arena being re-released alongside it. It's not as well known as developer ID's other shooter franchise, Doom, but it has more than its fair share of entries. Here's what critics had to say about every Quake game with enough reviews to qualify for a score on Metacritic.
Quake II (N/A)
The second game in the Quake series isn't a direct sequel to the original. Its gameplay was similar enough to the first Quake that id decided to make it the second entry in the series instead of creating a new IP. Its story of conflict with the alien Strogg was continued in Quake 4 and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. Released in 1997 on PC and ported to the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation two years later, it does not have enough accessible reviews in 2021 to qualify for an aggregate score.
Quake Champions (N/A)
The most recent new Quake game, 2017's Quake Champions is a multiplayer-only arena shooter. It follows in the footsteps of the classic Quake III Arena but adds character-specific abilities for each champion, giving the game a "hero" style that has become popular with many free-to-play shooters.
Unlike the rest of the series, Quake Champions is a PC exclusive. Initially only offering a Killer Instinct style free-to-play option, it went fully free-to-play in 2018. Like many modern shooters, it also offers a Battle Pass. Quake Champions has not received enough review scores for an aggregate.
Quake Arena Arcade (69)
Released at the end of 2010, Arena Arcade brought lightning-fast deathmatches to Xbox Live. Like many early Live games, its main problem was buggy online play. That was a huge strike against Arena Arcade. Like the other versions of Quake III, it's a multiplayer-only game. Playing against bots can only go so far.
Arena Arcade's lack of a player base was another obvious detriment to the game's scores. While some critics considered it a breath of fresh air compared to the burgeoning Call of Duty series, it couldn't draw many players away from it. The biggest thing that dates the experience, though, is some critics baulking at a $15 price tag for a downloadable game.
Quake (Nintendo 64) (74)
The Nintendo 64 version of Quake got credit for even trying to port a cutting-edge PC game to Nintendo's underpowered console. It's split-screen multiplayer could never compete with playing on PC or even standout N64 multiplayer games like GoldenEye. It was a solid form of couch multiplayer when that was still the console standard.
Quake's single-player mode translated better to the N64. It mimicked the atmosphere of the PC version as well as could be expected. While it's not as smooth as keyboard and mouse controls on PC, critics commended it for adapting the controls to the N64's idiosyncratic controller. Current-gen players who want to see Quake 64 for themselves can play the levels in the remaster.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (74.25)
Quake spin-off Enemy Territory is set in the same universe as Quake II and Quake 4. Like Quake III Arena, it is a multiplayer-focused game. Instead of focusing on deathmatches, it's a team-based tactical shooter with XP based rewards system. Despite that, it still keeps Quake's trademark fast-paced gunplay.
Enemy Territory's score is dragged down by its console ports, including a particularly poorly reviewed PlayStation 3 version. While not optimized for consoles, its massive multiplayer battles were tailor-made for the PC. Enemy Territory earned high marks for its immersive gameplay and online experience, including one perfect score.
Quake 4 (76.5)
Quake 4 was made with the same engine id Software used for Doom 3. Even though Doom 3 is the black sheep of the franchise, its engine remains technically impressive. It's not that surprising that Quake 4 received mostly positive reviews when it launched on the PC.
Like Doom 3, its single-player mode is slower-paced than previous entries in the series. Quake 4's positive reviews acknowledge that change while complimenting the way the campaign picks up as it goes, and its multiplayer received kudos for maintaining the series' standards. However, Quake 4's reception as an Xbox 360 launch title was more of a mixed bag. Some critics appreciated the 360 version's simplicity over its demanding PC counterpart. Others were disappointed by the port's graphical downgrades and limited online multiplayer.
Quake III Revolution (84)
The PlayStation 2 exclusive version of Quake III won critics over despite a total lack of online multiplayer, as Sony had yet to introduce a modem for the console. It compensated for that glaring omission with technical polish, with critics praising its graphics and frame rate, which held up to the standards of the day during four-player split-screen action.
Revolution also earned goodwill for offering console exclusive content. That included new maps, characters and weapons. The less positive reviews didn't consider that enough to recommend it over the PC or Dreamcast versions of Quake III, but critics generally considered it the cream of a not particularly crowded crop on PS2.
Quake III Arena (93)
Lag-free online multiplayer on consoles has become such a standard feature that it's taken for granted. That makes it hard to state how much of a revelation Quake III's Dreamcast port was in 2000. It's a rare case when reviews scores are the best way of doing a game justice.
Quake III was one of the best-reviewed games in 2000, the twilight of Sega's time in the console wars. In a field dominated by games like GoldenEye and Perfect Dark, its graphics and multiplayer set new standards for FPS games on the console. Even the Dreamcast's controller being a poor fit for an FPS was mitigated by its keyboard and mouse support, another feature unheard of in previous consoles.
The first Quake is still the best-reviewed game in the series, if only by a narrow margin. Released in 1996, it was id's highly anticipated follow-up to the revolutionary Doom games. Many critics considered its graphics, AI, and online multiplayer the next evolutionary step in the genre.
Critics singled out Quake's graphics, AI, and online multiplayer were all singled out as new standards in PC gaming. Even the reviews that didn't consider it revolutionary acknowledged that it was a good game, if not everything it was hyped up to be. A review that definitely dates the game as existing before Steam suggests players try its shareware version first before purchasing a retail copy.