Have You Played… Enemy Territory: Quake Wars?

quake-wars

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

10 years old! Splash Damage’s attempt to transform Quake – then in the doldrums due to the unlovely Quake 4 – into a class-based team shooter felt like such a big deal at the time. Goodbye corridor-based Strogg-popping, hello open warfare in vast outdoor spaces. Surely the future of id-universe games, after both Q4 and Doom 3 had suggested the old formula had run its course.

You can’t even buy Quake Wars on Steam these days. Hell, the only way to get it is to find a physical copy from somewhere.

Resting, not dead. As far as I can tell, there is still a community of sorts, and those that still play consider EWQT’s high ambition to be as good as we ever got it. It suffered by comparison to its cheerier, more accessible and certainly more zeitgeist-grabbing contemporary Team Fortress 2, it didn’t quite manage to live up to grand promises made about its appearance, and I’m not sure it fully scratched either Quake or Battlefield itches.

But I remember feeling like I was in a war, one on a vast and unpredictable battlefield, with shifting objectives and escalating scale. One where my choice of class mattered on a level beyond which weapons I carried. One where the Stroggs were a formidable military force, not a bunch of dumb mutants waiting to get shot. One I had to sit back and recover from afterwards, intense and thrilling and complicated and cruel and big.

I also remember struggling to get to grips with the over-complicated class system, the muddled menu system, the uncertainty over what I should be doing at any one time and annoyance that my choice of class seemed to have locked me out of everything I needed to do, getting grumpier as I was insta-killed from great distances too many times, turning thrill to slog to an enduring temptation to go play TF2 instead. And, after a while, that’s exactly what I did.

Quake Wars wasn’t Quake. Like Brink after it, Quake Wars was a Splash Damage game. Soaring ambition, over-complicated execution: impossible not to be interested in, harder to stick with.

27 Comments

  1. Xiyng says:

    Ah, still one of my favourite games. Too bad that unlike Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (Splash Damage’s previous games), Quake Wars wasn’t very much fun if the teams weren’t at least roughly balanced (which they often weren’t). Other than that, I loved the game.

    I was pretty disappointed when I tried to play it some years ago and the official login servers had been shut down. Strictly speaking, they’re not needed for playing, but that’s where you had all your rank progress. It was fun getting all those medals and gaining rank, even though they didn’t affect anything at all.

    Maybe I should install the game again…

    • Unclepauly says:

      I’ve got a box right here next to me. Maybe I’ll give it a run this weekend.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      After hours and hours spent in Wolf:ET, the prospect of Quake Wars was very, very enticing to me. But then not a lot of the (relatively good) W:ET community moved over to QW, and it was too open for its own sake, so you’d spend a long while just walking around and respawning. I think the W:ET level design was great – you just needed like 5 seconds to move into the battle, and the battles could last quite a while, so you’d really feel these intense inch-by-inch, hug-your-comrades situations in which adrenaline ran high.

    • Provender says:

      Loved W:ET and bought Quake Wars without hesitation- but while waiting for my disc to arrive in the post I downloaded Orange box and started playing TF2.
      Fast forward 10 years and I’ve got 1300 hours clocked in TF2 and ET:QW still languishes in its shrink wrap. I’m sorry I didn’t mean it to be this way (sobs)

    • Xiyng says:

      Wait, the login servers are still there. Connecting to them just randomly fails, then works after a few tries. Strange. Ranking servers are gone though – no stats are saved anymore, and all previous stats are lost. Againt, not a big deal.

    • TheSplund says:

      I’ve re-installed a couple of times (last in 2013) but I’ve always tried to play it as a Single Player game with limited success – did also try it as a co-op game. I think I removed it last year just to try and sort the wheat from the chaff on my HDDs

  2. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    Wasn’t this the first commercial release to feature id’s vaunted MEGATEXTURE™ tech?

    Anyhoo, I played it, but couldn’t get on with it. I used to play in one of the top Clanbase RtCW clans (Stopwatch OSP forevs), but felt Splash Damage over-complicated Nerve’s stripped-down class-based formula and added too many unnecessary components to the original ET, let alone Quake Wars.

    • Shankers says:

      Yeah they added to much without balancing any of it but I genuinely liked the new additions in principle just not execution, step in the modding community to save the day again (like W:ET). The pro mod fixed a lot of balance issues but because of the idtech4 engine it was a right pain to get mods working and modding support wasn’t added till patch 1.4 which was 6 months or so after release, the damage was done by then.

  3. DrJ3RK says:

    I love this game! It’s been a while since I’ve played, but it’s one of the few semi-tactical, team-based shooters that I’ve actually enjoyed over the years. (More of a Quake-proper person usually.) Hmm… Might have to install this tonight, and play a few rounds.

  4. Grinterloper says:

    I have a secret soft spot for Quake 4. No I’m not going to try to convince you all that it’s actually a forgotten classic, I mean, it wasn’t is it? (though I do think it was thoroughly average rather than out right terrible)

    But I found something enthrallingly gothic and intimidating about the descent into the stroyent filled heart of darkness that characterised the game’s progression.

    I’m sure it’s rose tinted glasses though as I refuse to go back and play it and risk disabusing myself of fond memories, be they truthful or not.

    ETQW wuz ded gud en’all

    • DrJ3RK says:

      Quake IV is great! Doom 3 also! I’ve played through both several times, and still do once in a while. RAGE too. A lot of people are weird about these games, but they’re all excellent IMO.

    • vorador says:

      I replayed it a few months ago and while it certainly didn’t deserve any awards, it was serviceable and fun enough for me to play it to completion. And it worked on Windows 10.

      I think trying to create a storyline out of the game was its failure. The strength of id software, and its “b-team” Raven software was making gameplay first and foremost, with everything else playing second fiddle. Doom 2016 makes this clear.

    • Nucas says:

      quake 4 was super well received and well reviewed when it was released. it’s still widely praised on the steam review page in fact.

      it made me feel like i was taking crazy pills. i thought the game was just a continuation of the terrible design and gameplay of raven’s previous titles like soldier of fortune 2.

      i come back to it every several years wanting to give it another try. it’s a game i feel like i should like, quake 2 being my first shooter ever; a sequel that takes itself a little more seriously really sounds great in theory. but it’s just so, so bad.

    • Catterbatter says:

      I love Quake 2 to pieces and still play it, but I only got around to Quake 4 last month. The Q4 story is just amazing and horrifying. It takes the sketchy Strogg stuff from 2, fills in all the blanks, and turns it up loud (and probably a fourth metaphor I’m forgetting to mix in). The gameplay, though — maybe it’s because I haven’t ever played a console FPS, but I found it really jarring to have NPCs following me around, telling me where to go next, and actually doing the fighting for me. It was a decidedly un-Quake experience. That’s the only bad thing I could say about it, but it’s also the worst thing you could say about a Quake game.

      • DrJ3RK says:

        There’s no such thing as a precisely Quake-like game. Q2 and Q4 are the closest any have to actual continuity, so in that way, Q4 is just as Quake-esque as Quake 2. Yes, they add NPCs that fight along side you, because it’s supposed to feel like a war. Quake 2 was supposed to feel like that too, but they were working with a lot less technology at the time. I feel that if they could have made it more like Q4 when Q2 was released, they would have. They had the drop pods, war sounds in the background like there was more going on than you could see, etc. In Q4, they actually put you in the middle of all that.

        Quake 2 was nothing like Quake 1. Even Quake 1 wasn’t the game that they had originally intended it to be. It’s been a while since I read about it, but I believe it was supposed to be some kind of cop-story or something like that originally. :D

        Q3A was multiplayer only, with arena style, fast pace, but no real single player at all like Q1, Q2, and Q4. So it’s not like any of the others either.

        Now we have Quake Champions that like Q3A, (more or less). The series is all over the place, and in my opinion it’s one of the best series out there. All of it. For me Quakes and Dooms come behind only one other series. System Shock. (Ultima also has to be in there somewhere, but totally different genre.)

        Anyway, you can of course subjectively say that you didn’t enjoy Quake 4 as much as one of the others, but you can’t say it’s not a Quake game, because it’s as Quake as any other Quake game.

  5. Griffolonio says:

    This really was a great game. I remember the demo had one map that was set in a forested mountainy area and the scenery was great. Some of BF1 Italian maps are reminiscent, especially where you fight thru a tunnel that his side areas. I especially liked the engineer turret/artillery options. A lot of fun and I’m sorry there isn’t availability or a player community left.

  6. Askis says:

    I’ve still got it on disc, but wasn’t even aware it was still playable, might have to give it another go at some point.

  7. Beefsurgeon says:

    Yes! It’s still my all-time favorite multiplayer fps. I loved the scale of the maps and the vehicles. Splash Damage’s subsequent games have felt quite uninspired in the wake of this ambitious beast.

  8. Ogun says:

    I pre-ordered (which was more of a big deal in those days) a special edition of ETQW because I was so excited about it. It was going to be a cross between the Quake series and W:ET and I was going to play it to death – but it came with some sort of in-game advertising that was blocked by my ISP because it was using the default torrent port, so I couldn’t get past the login screen. I tried redirecting the advertising’s traffic and that made the game crash, then spent weeks playing occasional email tennis with Virgin tech support and the advertiser instead.

    As far as I could tell, the advertisers had bought the bundled software in/sold it on with no clue as to how it worked or how to manage it. For technical reasons that were beyond me, whether or not your ISP would block you even if they allowed traffic on the Metallica album stealing port was a sort of unlucky dip, based on the content of whatever empty/unsold advertising hoarding you were unknowingly trying to transmit. At some point long after I’d lost interest, it was quietly dropped from ETQW. Presumably the advertisers went on to find some other way of being thoroughly wretched pricks (e.g. they got MBAs and went into business consultancy).

    Now that I could finally play, I played ETQW for a long time and loved it to bits but always knew that I’d missed the part I wanted see, a Quake game where everyone was a noob and the paint was still fresh.

    …and player numbers never really seemed to recover from those initial problems – nefariously distributed in-game ads (that I don’t think anyone was even told were there) preventing some from ever getting online at all, megatexture issues and half a dozen other things I can’t remember anymore. It was obvious that a great game that had built up (ok, maybe inherited) a dedicated community was never going to get a sequel, and equally obvious that games companies could never make such stupid mistakes again. That was my main positive takeaway as a consumer – that games companies, especially iD and Splash Damage, would learn from the example and never make such a massive bollocks-up of a release ever again.

  9. Hans says:

    I’M A TECHNICIAN!!!

  10. Painkiller says:

    Still one of my favorite team-based Shooters. We play on the servers of TAW and JESUS Clan. There are also demo events.

    Please help us revive this game on GOG and Steam:
    link to gog.com
    link to steamcommunity.com

    For other players & demo events look here:
    link to discord.gg

  11. Shankers says:

    It’s a shame modding was such a pain in this game otherwise I think it could have achieved greatness as W:ET before it, also due to the ranked server business and persistent stats and ranks/medals most of the player base had no interest in custom content as they couldn’t increase their ranks. The pro mod was great as it toned down some of the ‘spamy’ elements of the game such as the deployables and heavy vehicles by restricting how many could be used at once which helped strike a better balance between infantry and vehicle combat.

    Despite its short comings I grew to love the game more than I did with W:ET and even released several maps for the game despite the low player base for custom content. I really loved the setting for the game, there was a clear distinction between the two sides and each class was also recognisable. You instantly knew where the strogg controlled objectives or spawn locations where situated because they looked like the strogg made them, sounds obvious but take their follow up Brink for example, everything looked the same and blended in, wasn’t obvious where you were meant to be going half the time. I remember reading how they used the LOTR films as inspiration as you knew in the films which race built the various areas and the weapons shown and what not. I also loved how most maps started out in the open and then became more focused and indoor in nature as you progressed.

    The asymmetric sides were also interesting and I would have liked to see them expand with that in a sequel that never happened, something a bit like Natural Selection 2 maybe? Some of the classes played largely the same regardless on what side you were on as each Strogg class was a humanoid character, would have been interesting to see other variants.

  12. Bobtree says:

    Yes, 360+ hours, and it was the best. I still have it installed.

  13. Premium User Badge

    MOOncalF says:

    I wish I’d been there for this one, but it would have cut into my Battlefield 2 years. I wonder if the increasing number of people online in general and ease of access and emulation of old games will one day allow ALL games modest but always-on cohorts of game tourists. Not offering the highest level of competition, but a baseline of fun for everyone in every game.

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