As part of its annual Quakeworld event this week, Microsoft/Bethesda/Id Software announced some big Quake-related updates that will be of particular interest to Xbox Game Pass subscribers.
“The legendary first-person shooter that inspires today’s retro shooters is back!” Bethesda’s Parker Wilhelm announced. “Quake returns today with an enhanced re-release on PC and Xbox One and with Xbox Game Pass. This re-release is backward compatible with Xbox Series X|S and will also receive next-gen optimizations at a later date, bringing native 4K resolution and 120hz refresh rates.”
While most are probably familiar with DOOM and the impact it had on gaming, it is impossible to overstate the importance of its 1996 successor, Quake, as it brought 3D gaming mainstream and has influenced decades of follow-ups; the first-person shooters we play today all owe a great debt to Quake and the changes it wrought, and to Id Software’s John Carmack, the technical genius that made it all possible.
Quake was also a watershed moment for me personally: I had switched to PC gaming from the Amiga in the early 1990s in part because of DOOM, and thanks to Quake’s technical advances, I switched from purely keyboard-based gaming to more sophisticated mouse-and-keyboard gaming. Quake also improved dramatically over the years. The first version was an MS-DOS game with software rendering, if you can believe that. But it was quickly augmented with, among other things, smooth, hardware-based rendering, Windows compatibility, and a new multiplayer mode called QuakeWorld that offered significant enhancements for deathmatchers.
Id Software released various Quake sequels over the years, including Quake II, another technical tour de force that otherwise had nothing to do with the original Quake, Quake III: Arena, a frenetic multiplayer-only title, and then Quake IV, which was—go figure—a sequel to Quake II. (Quake IV was among the first titles released for the then-new Xbox 360 in 2005, which is how I played it as I had switched to console-based gaming by then.)
As for today’s news, here’s what’s happening.
The original Quake has been “remastered” for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S (via backward compatibility), and while this game looks exactly—and I mean exactly—like the software rendering-based game of 1996 out of the box, you can turn on all kinds of graphical effects and achieve something akin to GLQuake but with higher resolutions. OG Quake has been further enhanced with local and online co-op and multiplayer modes, an entire new episode for the single-player campaign (well, not new-new, as it was released previously on PC from the game makers behind Wolfenstein: The New Order), cross-platform support, custom matches, mods support, and more.
In the future, OG Quake will be updated with even better visuals and 4K/120 Hz support on Xbox Series X|S. And it’s available now with an Xbox Game Pass subscription. If you want to buy it outright, it’s just $9.99. Either way, I recommend diving in, whether you’ve played it through 20 times, as I have, or are unfamiliar with the title.
Quake II and Quake III: Arena are also available today, but only via Xbox Game Pass for PC, and “in their original form,” so there are no new advancements. But these games should look pretty decent, even today on a modern gaming PC, given how technically advanced they were at release. (Again, thanks to John Carmack.)
I intend to play through the OG Quake single-player campaigns immediately; I’m particularly curious about the former given its new (to me) multi-level episode. And I would love to see Quake II, Quake III: Arena, and Quake IV come to Xbox/Xbox Game Pass in the future.