Quantifying Quake: How the dark fantasy FPS changed games forever

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Quantifying Quake: How the dark fantasy FPS changed games forever

As the game celebrates its 25th anniversary with an enhanced version launching on PlayStation today, id Software developers reflect on its legacy.

In 1996, id Software’s Quake whisked players to new dimensions – not just the Gothic realms beyond the Slipgate where players battled otherworldly monsters, but also a forever-changed landscape of gaming and most literally, the third dimension with its revolutionary 3D graphics rendering.

Quantifying Quake: How the dark fantasy FPS changed games forever

Announced at QuakeCon 2021, Quake celebrates its 25th anniversary with its long-awaited debut on modern hardware with an enhanced re-release of the lightning-fast shooter that changed everything. Available now for PlayStation 4 and backwards compatible on PlayStation 5 with next-gen support, the return of Quake not only commemorates the franchise’s origins but also reconnects FPS fans with a classic that still resonates loudly in the culture of gaming.

“You can pick almost any part of games today and trace it back to the work Quake began,” says Mike Rubits, senior programmer at id Software. “In a time where generations of hardware would sometimes be measured in months, Quake would become the standard for how many early 3D games would work.”

“Quake was the first true 3D shooter,” adds Kevin Cloud, executive producer at id Software who worked as an artist on the original Doom and has been at the company for over two-and-a-half decades. However, Quake wasn’t just a technical marvel – its high-speed, high-skill gameplay stood the test of time and is ready for a new generation of gamers to experience.

“I believe what is appealing (about Quake) is the fast movement and combat with clear and fun game mechanics,” explains Cloud, with the re-release preserving that element of what he calls “moving fast and shooting faster.” 

The enhanced version

Players can experience the full single-player campaign, as well as its two expansions, in addition to cross-platform support for co-op play up to four players, deathmatch with up to eight players, as well as lighting and model enhancements.

PlayStation 5 owners will also get to experience additional features taking advantage of the console’s next-generation technology. In addition to future support planned for native 4K resolution and 120Hz refresh rates – an exciting prospect for any fan of fast-paced shooters alone – the re-release of Quake will also feature DualSense wireless controller support, offering players haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, motion aiming, and game audio through the peripheral’s speakers. “The DualSense controller is a fantastic controller and I’m always interested to see what other games do with it,” says Rubits. “I’m a big supporter of gyro aim in shooters and the DualSense controller’s motion controls are top notch.”

The re-release is a joint operation between id Software and Nightdive Studios, who have built a reputation for bringing retro shooters to modern platforms, including the re-release of the cult classic Doom 64. “Considering their history of modernizing older titles, it’s hard to think of a better team to work on this,” says Rubits. 

Nightdive’s timing couldn’t be better, as gaming culture is currently undergoing a ‘retro shooter’ renaissance – a surging revival of FPS games that embrace the fast and furious designs of past shooters like Doom, Wolfenstein, and the original Quake. 

“I think Doom (2016) showed that there was a thirst for something more quick, fun, and ‘pure,’ so to speak,” says Christian Grawert, senior level designer at MachineGames, developers of Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. “All the retro shooters capitalize on that as well. That’s also something you’ll get loads of in Quake, along with excellent level design and a fun bestiary.”  

“For me, the best of these retro shooters are about movement as defense,” says MachineGames Level Designer Andrew Yoder. “Keep moving, keep prioritizing targets, stay alive. There’s a dance to Quake, and learning how to sidestep a lunging Fiend or how to do the ‘Shambler Dance’ is a real joy.”

The soundtrack 

Another iconic preservation of Quake’s re-release is its soundtrack, famously composed by Trent Reznor and his industrial music group, Nine Inch Nails. Not only did the original music work set Quake’s tone with its ethereal, ambient sound – it also helped push what was possible for music in games into the era we currently enjoy.

“I remember when we first got going that it was going to be an issue on how to make this music, because everything up until this point was pretty much chip music,” reminisces Chris Vrenna, Nine Inch Nails drummer and contributor on Quake’s original soundtrack, remembering a time where Reznor remarked that if they wanted to make something “innovative and cool,” they would need a difference approach.

The solution was streaming the soundtrack directly off the CD-ROM of the game while it was being played – exactly the kind of technological solution you’d expect from id Software, whose reputation for maximizing the most out of software is legendary. “It was really a breakthrough,” Vrenna says regarding the freedom this allowed them as musicians. “You were listening to an instrumental ambient Nine Inch Nails album that was made specifically to be played with this game.”

The legacy 

Quake’s technical and creative achievements, though highly influential, are just half of its legacy. Once the game was finally in players’ hands, that’s when Quake truly cemented its status as an industry changer.

“Quake was a significant influence on us – and not only Quake, but id Software and pretty much everything they did,” says Jerk Gustafsson, MachineGames Executive Producer. “I got into the business thanks to a map pack that I made for Quake II called “1964: Echoes of the Past.” Gustafsson was one of many future developers who got sucked into Quake and yet another facet of its longevity: its modding scene.

“Playing games was much more of a social thing where we got together, had a few beers and played games – mainly Doom and Duke Nukem at the time. Then, I placed a successful bet on a local hockey game and won some money. Initially I wanted to buy a parrot, as I thought it would be fun to teach it how to talk, but one of my closest friends convinced me to buy a computer instead.”

One Pentium 90 computer, a modem and a copy of Quake later, Gustafsson’s destiny was set. “It was that combination that would forever change my life,” he says. “I loved the game, especially the environments. I didn’t just play the game, I studied it. Then, after some time, through the ability to connect to Internet, I discovered fan-made maps and realized, ‘whoa, I can actually build my very own maps!’”

Whether it was its envelope-pushing graphics, timeless action, genre-defining online multiplayer, gripping Gothic aesthetic, memorable soundtrack or its influence on those who would go on to produce the video games of today, there’s no shortage of props to give to Quake. 

And now, with its re-release on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, yet another generation of players will experience what made this classic title persist in so many minds over a quarter of a century. To long-time shooter vets and newcomers alike, there’s no better time than now – download Quake today and see what lies in wait for you beyond the Slipgate.

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  • Does it have mouse/keyboard support?

    • It does! When you plug in your mouse & keyboard, the game recognizes it and the menus change accordingly. However mouse AIMING is not working at the moment (shooting and other buttons do work however). Seems like a small oversight which will hopefully get fixed soon.

    • A new Bethesda release on PlayStation?

      Didn’t Phil basically trick everyone into believing that wouldn’t happen?

      Please, don’t spin this because it’s a minor remaster and old game. It’s a new release for a game that’s never been on PlayStation and it was developed (remastered) by Microsoft first party, Machine Games. This is a big deal, regardless of how minor this release appears.

      This shows a willingness to put new releases on PlayStation. And ofc Skyrim is coming to PS5 as well. This contradicts what Spencer insinuated and what the media and the masses ran with. “Bethesda games will be on platforms where Gamepass exists”. Apparently that’s not true, not entirely.

      I’ve held firm that certain Bethesda releases would find their way to PlayStation eventually, I hope the appropriate ppl feel embarrassed for pushing an uncertain narrative. Spin the fact that this looks like a port, it’s old, etc. Flip flop on what legacy means. Nobody is buying it. This is a huge sign. Microsoft says anything they can to Garner hype and nobody holds them accountable later on. I do.

      Durden out.

  • lol Quake? No one ever talked about Quake… now Quake 2 on the other hand… EVERYONE talked about that.. give us that instead

    • I guess it must have seemed that way if you were a fetus or younger when Quake came out, but trust me kid, you are absolutely laughably wrong.

    • Yes. You were obviously too young. Quake was the future. Quake fans probably didn’t even like Quake 2 that much…

    • Uh yeah, wrong. Quake was a HUGE deal. Literally everyone into games at the time talked about Quake, even the console players at a time when PC and console gaming almost never overlapped.

      Fully 3D rendered graphics, the popularization of 3D Accelerator cards, Multiplayer Deathmatch, Bots, etc, etc.

  • If the future PS5 version free for those who buy the PS4 version now?

  • When will this next gen upgrade mentioned in the trailer come?

    Hope this is just the first of more Quake to come!

  • You’re wasting your time, Bethesda.
    What, nothing more important to do?


  • Nice to have Quake on PS4, I hope they release the others as well :)

  • Despite absolutely not wanting one , I bought a Series S just for Flight Simulator and it turns out there’s quite a bit on Gamepass. This came on to Gamepass free yesterday to my surprise.

    I really prefer my PS5 but I have to admit that little Xbox is damn impressive

    • Xbox Game Pass for PC or Console is a great value.

      That is all Microsoft can do to be competitive because they spent too many years not building out their own quality game development studios.

      So now they have to buy market share.

      Sony and Nintendo have always invested in their own game development studios. That is a stronger value proposition to me than Game Pass.

    • If you think the pass on box is good, just wait till you get your 3080.

    • Or your 3090 with 24 GB of VRAM…

    • Haha, yah, or your 3090 – you crazy rich bits

  • Pretty cool, the gaming community love the celebration of our history and this version should be a blast. No software left behind, please learn Sony

  • Woah, Quake on PS4/5, this is a pleasant surprise! Never played the original, but I’ll dive into this one.

    • I gotta add – the crossplay support between PS, XBOX and PC-controller players is just brilliant! Hopefully a trend all multiplayer FPS games will follow from here on out.

    • Especially PC. Cross play helps to dilute the cheaters on PC.

    • The original has never been on PlayStation.

      This is actually very surprising considering the entire world had already decided that no future Bethesda releases beyond deals that were already in place would be on PlayStation.

  • Insta-buy! Insta-gib!

  • I played Quake with my dad eons ago and it was terrifying and amazing. I’m totally in for this.

    Please bring back “An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire” too! I remember that you gave that one from free at a time, but I arrived too late.

  • “Enhanced” version…? How about “remastered” version? $5 game. Where’s the remastered Quake?

    And Sony, please give your consumers an all BLACK PS5… Nobody wants an UGLY WHITE console.

  • I want play station 5 pleeeez

  • I remember playing this at school with multiplayer. Glad they release Quake along with crossplay feature. I hope Quake get the same treatment as Doom 2016 as complete Remake in the future.

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