Quake Remastered impressions: Shub-Niggurath for the rest of us

One of the most influential games of all time has been brought up to modern standards and adapted for modern consoles.


In one of the worst-kept gaming secrets of 2021, Bethesda had plans to revive Quake for the game’s 25th anniversary. Once this year’s QuakeCon rolled around, the public finally got official confirmation that id Software’s Lovecraft-inspired shooter was getting the increasingly popular remaster treatment. While the game has been kept alive and improved over the years thanks to a dedicated community of fans and coders, it was decidedly less accessible to anyone who doesn’t play games on PC. Featuring compatibility with modern hardware and a revamped network approach that lowers the barrier for entry into the game’s near-legendary multiplayer experience, this remaster is an easy recommendation for console players or those too young to have taken the trip with id Software 25 years ago.

Not your Dad’s Quake

For a certain portion of the Quake fanbase, this release will likely fail to move the needle. Of course, I’m speaking of the Quake diehards who have kept the game relevant for nearly three decades and have provided some amazing source ports to help bring it up to modern standards — the people who would rather uninstall the game than join a multiplayer session through any means other than console command. This release is not intended for this type of Quake fan, but the upgrade has been provided at no cost to those who already owned the game and, on PC, the original game is still available for those with the Steam or GOG versions (the Game Pass version only offers access to Quake Remastered).

For everyone else, this is the definitive version of Quake. Now running on developer Night Dive’s Kex Engine, the game has received some upgrades in the form of arbitrary resolution support, proper widescreen display, dynamic lighting, upgraded character models, a new depth of field effect, and more. At first glance, things look pretty dated, until you go back and actually look at Quake running stock on your PC. The visual upgrade is not subtle but remains very faithful to the original visual presentation. 

As a long-time Quake player myself, I have to note that there is no way to make this remaster look like glQuake running on 3dFX hardware, which is how the game has always looked in my mind’s eye. A bummer that only a few will care about, but I assume there have to be a few of us left out there. Bethesda did offer players a solid with the inclusion of Trent Reznor’s outstanding soundtrack. The previously available digital editions of the game omitted this critical part of the Quake experience and that crime has now been corrected.

As for playing the game, you’ll find that it is Quake, for better or worse. While running through the old campaign is still worth the time, new players need to understand that gameplay and level design conventions were very different in 1996 when the 3D shooter was still fresh out of the oven. 

While working through the original levels and expansions may require some adjustments to your expectations, I can wholly recommend MachineGames’ Dimension of the Machine expansion without any qualifiers. This expansion pack is the real treasure of Quake Remastered, featuring levels that look like old Quake while evoking the same feelings I’ve gotten from the best of the recent indie takes on the early era of first-person shooters.

Hopping online is a cinch, regardless of platform. Crossplay support is in, even between the newest console and Nintendo's Switch handheld. Split-screen multiplayer is also an option and Night Dive has done an adequate job translating inputs to feel natural on gamepads. While I unjustifiably feel that I am above using a lowly gamepad for Quake, I appreciate the effort for everyone else who plays the game and isn’t delusional like me. Some mod support has also been promised with the first offering coming in the form of Quake 64 that benefits from the new Kex Engine lighting and comes with a post-process screen filter that mimics the CRT televisions that most folks enjoyed the Nintendo 64 shooter on originally.

Can’t complain too much for the price

I do have some gripes with this release, but most of them are all of the nitpicking variety. I failed to get consistent frame-pacing using the in-game V-Sync and frame cap and had to resort to a third-party frame rate tool to keep Quake Remastered from stuttering on my machine. I was also a bit bummed that this didn’t get the same ray-traced deluxe treatment we saw with Quake 2 last year as I feel the original game would benefit from the visual boost even more than the sequel. Still, this upgrade is laughably cheap (or free) on PC and offers console owners a clean, polished version of Quake. Could it be better? Sure. Can you do better without resorting to the time-consuming configuration of a source port? No way.

This review is based on the PC Steam release. The game was purchased by the writer. Quake Remastered is now available for Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Steam, GOG, and Game Pass.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

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