When it comes to classic shooters, there are few games that are as iconic as id Software’s Quake. Originally released 25 years ago, Quake has seen a number of ports and remasters throughout its life, and it has most recently found its way to Nintendo Switch and other modern platforms, courtesy of Nightdive Studios. With such a storied history behind it, how does this edition of Quake hold up? Really well, overall.
Although, right out of the gate, it’s disappointing that all of the story elements explained in the ’90s instruction manual are simply missing here — since there is no manual — making it more difficult to understand what’s going on during the bits of actual in-game story after each episode. You can still look this information up online, but I shouldn’t have to leave the game entirely to figure out what’s going on.
Apparently, in Quake the government has been experimenting with portals to other dimensions. An enemy codenamed “Quake” has found a way to utilize these portals to send hordes of enemies into the human realm. It’s your job to track down four magic runes throughout different realms in order to find Quake and put a stop to the invasion. If it seems pretty light or cliché, that’s because it is, but I doubt many people are playing Quake for the story to begin with.
Quake plays basically like any other classic FPS (most of which this one inspired). Your objective in each level is simply to reach the goal zone. However, a horde of enemies wants to stop you from accomplishing this. As you run around the often labyrinthine maps, you’ll find an assortment of weapons and gear to help you. For the observant players, there are also plenty of secrets sprinkled throughout the maps, which often reward you with high-tier armor and weaponry. After each map, you’ll be taken to a score screen that displays your time, number of kills, and number of secrets found, providing an easy way to challenge yourself or your friends to beat your best records.
The various campaigns are fairly short, clocking in at a few hours each. However, what Quake lacks in length, in makes up for in quantity. In addition to the original campaign, the remaster includes both original mission packs, the Dimension of the Past expansion developed by MachineGames (developer of the modern Wolfenstein games) for Quake‘s 20th anniversary, and a brand new mission pack from MachineGames specifically for this launch, Dimension of the Machine. These expansions not only provide more maps and stories to experience, but also add new enemy and weapon types to play around with.
Furthermore, Quake has an option to support “free, curated, fan-made and official mods and missions.” Currently, only Quake 64 is available, but more mods are promised to come soon.
Of course, one of the main reasons Quake became so popular was its multiplayer, and this remaster retains that aspect beautifully. Quake contains four-player cooperative play through the campaign and an eight-player competitive deathmatch mode. Crucially, this release also includes cross-play. You can play without restrictions if you like, or those concerned about players on mouse and keyboard having an advantage can restrict rooms to same console or controller only. In my tests, I ran through the first episode of Quake‘s original campaign, as well as a couple deathmatches, with my friend who was playing on Xbox One. Both sessions ran seamlessly for us, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that setting up a cross-play lobby was no different than setting up a standard lobby. All you need to do is give your friend the room code, and you’re on your way to some fragging fun!
For those who like options, you can do a lot to customize your experience. Control-wise, you can customize your bindings, increase your sensitivity, and toggle motion controls. You can pick from one of four HUDs to give you as much or as little information as you want. There are also tons of graphics options, such as adjusting your field of view and changing the resolution, alongside a suite of smaller adjustments. I was impressed by the existence of all of these options, as it’s not something I’m used to seeing on Switch titles.
Honestly, there’s not much else I can knock Quake for that isn’t a relic of its time. The biggest complaint I have is that some of the text can be hard to read against the backgrounds, especially when it comes to the story summaries. Improved readability would have been really appreciated, but I can also appreciate the desire to keep things as people remember.
I also didn’t care too much for the structure of the new campaign maps, as they tend to be much larger and have higher enemy counts than the classic levels. That’s not to say they aren’t good, but it didn’t quite feel like Quake to me. The other big sticking point for a lot of people will be a requirement to link a Bethesda.net account to your game in order to access multiplayer and the mod service.
After reviewing Quake, I feel it’s still an incredible game that holds up well even today. You get a ton of content for the price, and on top of that, there’s so much replayability between the various difficulties and multiplayer options. While I wish some effort would have been made to modernize some archaic elements, they don’t take away too much from the overall experience. If you’re a fan of shooters at all, Quake should absolutely have a place in your Switch library.
A Nintendo Switch review code for Quake was provided by the publisher.