Like Doom before it, Quake raised the quality bar for first person shooters when it was originally released in 1996. It featured huge levels with multiple paths and different heights, a variety of new weapons and of course those stunning, distinctive rusty brown tinted visuals. Now that the visuals aren’t so amazing any more, Quakes single player campaign really isn’t anything so special. The game still shines in multiplayer however, with plenty of nostalgic players still hosting games.
Modern Quake prerequisites
To play Quake on a modern PC, you require two things. Firstly, a copy of the games level data, which is stored in a folder called ID1. Secondly, you require a version of the games engine that can run on your modern PC. Obtaining the latter is easy, as there are several of these updated versions of Quake that can be downloaded for free. Getting the level data might not be so easy, depending on the version of the game you own. If you don’t own the game already, you can still purchase it from the popular Steam storefront.
Now, follow the instructions below, depending on which version of the game you have.
Steam version – This version should be bundled with an updated engine so technically you don’t need to do anything. However, some of the updated builds we’re looking at in this article have improvements that the stock Steam game does not have, so you might want to read on anyway. To find the ID1 folder, browse to your Steam installation folder in Explorer (which is C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam by default) and open the Steamapps\Common\Quake sub-folder. You should now see the ID1 folder.
Retail CD – First of all you need to discover if your CD is an older (DOS and Windows 95) or newer (Windows) version. Place the CD in your computers optical drive and open it in Explorer. If you can see a folder called “ID1”, you have a Windows version of the CD. If you can only see a bunch of files, including one called INSTALL.BAT, and no sub-folders, you have a DOS/Windows 95 version.
If you have a Windows version, simply copy the ID1 folder from the CD to any temporary folder on your PC. You’re now done with the CD, but you might like to leave it in the drive so you can hear the excellent Nine Inch Nails soundtrack while you play.
If you have the DOS version of the game, unfortunately you are going to need to jump through a few hoops before you can play. What you need to do is install the game in DOSBox, then simply grab the required folder (ID1) from your DOSBox setup. The game is very easy to install in DOSBox, simply follow our DOSBox tutorials here. To install the game use the command “INSTALL” and not “SETUP”.
Once you have installed Quake in DOSBox, you could simply play it using the popular DOS emulator if you wanted to. This does give you a very authentic simulation of Quake, as it was when it was released. This isn’t optimal for newer PCs however and especially not if you intend playing multiplayer. Instead, you can simply exit DOSBox and go to the folder you mounted as your DOSBox virtual C: drive. In there, open the QUAKE sub-folder and you will find the ID1 folder we need to run one of the many more modern versions of Quake.
Choosing a new Quake
Such is the popularity of classic Quake that there isn’t one but many different, fan-made updates for the game. We tested out two versions for this article, but of course you’re free to Google around and find one you like better.
DarkPlaces – This is a rewritten Quake engine that includes enhanced graphics, physics and new effects. The author stops short of calling it a total conversion or a remaster and instead describes it as a (greatly) improved Quake. You can download Dark Places here. Make sure you choose the Windows build. If you are running a 64 bit version of Windows, you should download the 64 bit version of DarkPlaces, otherwise, the 32 bit version will do just fine. DarkPlaces is good if you want to play the single player campaign with the best possible visual quality.
ProQuake – ProQuake is a faithful GLQuake/WinQuake style Quake client incorporating several common sense features that, according to the author, Quake should have had from the start. These features include ping time shown in the scoreboard and precise aiming. You can download ProQuake here. We recommend ProQuake if you are intending to play online.
The installation procedure for both DarkPlaces and ProQuake is exactly the same. Firstly, download your chosen engine, both are downloaded as zip files. You need to copy all the files from the downloaded zip file to any convenient location on your PC (e.g C:\Games\ProQuake or C:\Games\DarkPlaces). Once you have done this, copy or move the ID1 folder you obtained in the previous step into the ProQuake or DarkPlaces folder you just set up. To run DarkPlaces, simply double click on the “Darkplaces.exe” file. To run ProQuake, you can choose either the DirectX8 build by clicking “dx8pro493.exe” or the OpenGL build by clicking “glpro493.exe”. On most modern PCs we recommend the OpenGL build, as DirectX 8 is getting a little long in the tooth now, but feel free to try them both and see which performs best on your hardware.
Tweaking visual quality
There aren’t an awful lot of visual quality options to tweak in standard Quake, but you will want to change the games resolution to better fit your monitor. After starting the game, press the Escape key to open the games menu and then choose “Options”. Now, in the sub-menu that appears, choose “Video Options” (ProQuake) or “Change Video Mode” (DarkPlaces). Here you can change the screen resolution of the game to match your monitors native resolution. Both DarkPlaces and ProQuake support both 4:3 and widescreen modes, so choose whichever resolution fits your monitor best.
DarkPlaces has some additional options for antialiasing and texture quality. If you’re running a reasonably modern PC, go ahead and ramp these up to the max. If the game doesn’t feel as smooth when you do this, you might need to come back and turn them down a couple of notches.
You’re now all set to play the single player game, read on if you want to give multiplayer a try.
Despite it’s age, people still regularly play Quake online and all you need to do to play across the internet is open the games main menu (Escape key) and choose “Multiplayer”. Before you dive into a game, you might want to go into “Setup” and change your name from “Player” to something more appropriate. Then, simply choose “Join a Game”. A list of servers will appear, look for one that has some active players and dive right in.
Of course, you might want to organise a game with a few friends to ensure you manage to find some opponents. DarkPlaces and ProQuake are now supported by the excellent PC gaming/multiplayer utility Evolve. Using Evolve you can send instant messages and organise multiplayer matches easily, without the need to keep alt-tabbing back to desktop.
Game graphics are smeared/corrupt – Can happen in ProQuake when running in DirectX 8 mode with a game overlay tool such as Evolve or FRAPS. Disable the overlay tool or play in OpenGL mode.
Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.