What is there left to say about Quake at this stage really? Arriving on the FPS scene some 25 years ago as a successor to iD Software's phenomenal DOOM, it single-handedly revolutionised a genre with its real-time 3D rendering ushering in a new era of immersion that left its storied predecessor feeling resolutely old-school by comparison. Quake was truly ground-breaking stuff, to the extent that its ripple effect can still be felt in the most modern of first person shooters. A quarter of a century later though, how does its brand of fast-paced FPS action hold up? As it turns out, spectacularly well.
Stealth-dropped as part of QuakeCon, this remastered version of the classic FPS wisely avoids tinkering with the magic formula that made the game so great in the first place, instead keeping the look and feel of the original intact whilst carefully adding all manner of modern bells and whistles in a feature-packed port that's an absolute dream to spend time with.
Jumping back in here, blasting our way once again to a showdown with Shub-Niggurath, it's incredible just how well it all holds up. Quake's level design still sings, its secret-strewn labyrinthine puzzle boxes charging you with staying alive against impressively varied enemy types whilst figuring out how to grab the keys necessary to forge an escape path. They're just as absorbing, as atmospheric and addictive now as they were when we were originally sat playing them in our Nine Inch Nails t-shirts.
On the face of things, it all looks very DOOM-esque, but getting to grips with this one reveals a game that's so much more nuanced in terms of its action, in its level design and in how it goes about placing its enemies. This isn't simply an endless siege or a full on mindless assault involving hordes of demonic foes, although there's still plenty of that. Instead there's almost as much exploration and puzzling as there is shooting here, and it's made all the more immersive by the leap in technology brought about by its fully 3D game engine. There's far more geometric complexity, you can fully explore your surroundings, something that was genuinely mind-blowing back in 1996, and the combat gets a real turbo-boosted kick up the backside from the resulting freedom and new level of traversal it offers.
In terms of atmosphere, too, Quake's Lovecraftian/Gothic horror nightmare world somehow still holds together remarkably well given how completely mad it all is. It absolutely looks and sounds every one of its 25 years, make no mistake about that, but the whole thing — the dark and dingy nightmare environments, twisted imagery, horrifying enemies and stellar sound design — fuses together to form what now comes across as a genuinely timeless vibe. It may not look so hot in static screenshot images, but boot this bad boy up, start strafing and shooting around the Necropolis, gibbing round Grisly Grotto or the House of Chthon, and you're immediately pulled fully into its nightmare world. In motion, it's hypnotic stuff and as buttery smooth and exhilarating as ever.
Of course, all of this is aided by graphical bells and whistles here, lots of little modern touches which don't so much change the look or feel of the original as they do compliment it. You've got texture smoothing, a choice of resolutions, anti-aliasing, ambient occlusion, depth of field, motion blur and, perhaps our favourite, dynamic lighting, that subtly adds to the game's already superb atmosphere. You can feel free to toggle all of this stuff off if you wish of course, and we did knock motion blur and anti-aliasing on the head, but the additions here really do highlight just how well Quake's vision of a multi-dimensional hellscape has held up.
As we already mentioned, this is a feature-packed remaster too. There's the fantastic original campaign to play through, all previously released expansion packs — the Scourge of Armagon, Dissolution of Eternity and Dimension of the Past — as well as the brand new Dimension of the Machine, a stellar addition from MachineGames that leans hard into that Lovecraftian horror aesthetic across its five or so individual levels and packs in a ton of secrets, puzzles, tricky platforming and a properly hellish boss battle to top it all off. There's also mod support, Quake 64 is ready and waiting to be downloaded from the add-ons screen when you boot up, and more player-created content is reportedly on the way.
In terms of online, Quake's dazzlingly chaotic multiplayer is all here, present and correct, and this remaster packs in as many different ways to engage with it as you could possibly ask for. You can play though the entire campaign and all its expansions in co-op with up to four other players in online or local splitscreen, get stuck into deathmatches with eight players online, or four in local splitscreen. There's bot support if you'd rather experience deathmatches without other human players, dedicated server support, peer-to-peer for custom matches, and the whole thing even supports cross-play with all other available platforms.
Speaking of crossplay, it's often the case — especially with shooters — that playing on Switch can leave you at a little bit of a disadvantage against other consoles but we found, especially with gyro controls enabled, that we were able to get stuck in and even dominate some of the hectic matches here when playing in both docked and handheld modes. It's such a smooth experience on Switch, in fact, that we'd even go so far as to say that, taking into account the ability to go portable, this could well be the definitive version of this updated classic.
There's a lot here for sure. This feels like as good a remaster, as fully-featured a package, as we could ever have hoped for with regards to Quake, and it's all available for a very generous asking price. Whether you're a Quake fan who's been hoping and praying for a Switch port for years or a newcomer who has yet to experience the delights of this genuine classic, we can't recommend this remaster highly enough. This really is the definitive version of a true gaming great and an absolutely essential addition to your Switch library.
Quake returns in a feature-rich remaster that delicately updates the classic FPS, adding lots of optional bells and whistles, packing in a ton of content and delivering the definitive way to play this 25-year-old masterpiece in the process. There's a wealth of online and co-op options here, a glorious new expansion to blast through from MachineGames, super slick performance in both docked and handheld modes and it's all available at a cracking price point. This really is a stellar port of one gaming's true greats and an absolutely essential addition to your Switch library.