Video game remasters are no rarity these days. They come along seemingly every other week, filling the void between bigger releases while reminding us of the “good ol’ days” everyone always clings to. In many instances, though, these “remasters” are lazy, half-hearted attempts to string a bit more cash out of a property while barely satiating the desires of fans who have wanted legacy games to be more readily available for years. This, however, is no such example.
Just under two years after Bethesda announced and subsequently shadow-dropped a remaster of the first Quake game at their QuakeCon event, the publisher has done it again, but this time with Quake II. It was inevitable that this would happen — especially given numerous leaks and ratings boards mentioning the game — but it’s nice to see it finally receive an official announcement. It was already wonderful to see the amount of love that went into the first Quake remaster, and once again, Nightdive Studios has gone above and beyond with this Quake II re-release. So much so, in fact, that the industry should be taking some notes.
It should be said right off the bat that Quake II is a fantastic game. Compared to fellow id Software shooter series DOOM, where it felt like its sequels were mere repeats of the first game, the way Quake II was able to build, improve, and innovate compared to the first game in just a year’s time is phenomenal. Its combat and level design still holds up to this day, and it’s still an amazing game on both the single-player and multiplayer fronts.
One could argue that, even more than the first game, Quake II was one of the titles that helped lay the groundwork for what the modern first-person shooter would look and play like. While the first Quake was merely another iteration of the DOOM formula, its sequel felt like a major switch-up, one that would plant the seeds for the style of first-person shooters that we’d see with a game like Half-Life a year later. It’s still a wonderful achievement, and Nightdive’s work in remastering it is a benchmark-setter.
The pure visual overhaul of the game is stellar, as major improvements to things like lighting and textures make this look even more impressive without sacrificing what made the original game so special in the first place. Performance is also spot-on, with the game maintaining an incredibly smooth 60 FPS even in the faster-paced sections, which is a blessing as no previous console version of the game reached 1080p and 60 FPS like this. What’s more, gamers on PCs and next-gen consoles can play the game at native 4K and 120 FPS, so long as they have compatible displays to achieve this level of performance.
Now already, this is all great news; an underappreciated and fantastically innovative shooter is back on modern consoles, and the remastering work is pitch-perfect. That alone should be more than enough reason already to give this a hearty recommendation. As it would turn out, though, Nightdive Studios has gotten ahead of the game and shown a level of love and care that few remasters have done before this.
Alongside the entirety of the original Quake II campaign, this re-release features all of the previously available expansions and multiplayer maps, which already makes for a myriad of content. That’s not totally uncommon for something like this, but what if you also found out that this also includes the entirety of Quake II’s Nintendo 64 version, which featured its own unique campaign?
Not enough? How about the fact that it features an entirely NEW expansion, Call of the Machine, handled by Wolfenstein developer MachineGames exclusively for this release? A full-blown 28-level campaign expansion (that also includes a new multiplayer map) was added to this remaster. Entirely new playable content in an enhanced version of a game that came out in 1997, which if you’re keeping score at home, was 26 years ago.
Feeling the love from all of that already? How about I sweeten the deal a bit by letting you know that it’s only $10? Yes, a remaster featuring multiple games worth of content, plus an entire set of brand-new content, is yours to own for only $10. Hell, this is a game published by Bethesda — a company owned by Microsoft — which means that it’s also available right now on Xbox Game Pass as well. Even better is that if you already own Quake II on PC, you can upgrade to this enhanced version completely free. All of the new content and improvements are yours at no extra charge.
This is how you do a remaster: by creating a new definitive version of a classic game. This is how you bring back a legacy title while treating the fans respectfully and showing just how much you love the game and IP that you’re bringing back. And to do so for such an incredible price is only icing on the cake…and perhaps an appropriate shot at the industry and the way it handles modern game re-releases.
Quake II’s announcement, subsequent surprise release, and low price feel especially pointed considering it comes days after Rockstar Games’ reveal of a Red Dead Redemption port for modern platforms. This version has been roundly criticized for being a straight port with no improvements that even omits the multiplayer mode, while Rockstar still has the gall to charge $50 for it. This is all made even worse by the publisher’s comments that the price is “commercially accurate,” and that the package provides a fair, great value.
Most certainly, this is not Rockstar’s first time having a controversial re-release of a game, between the abysmal launch of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition, or its “next-gen” version of Grand Theft Auto V feeling as though it barely added any real enhancements. This is to say little of the many other examples of publishers fumbling on re-releases, such as Sony releasing a $70 remake of The Last of Us that may not have seemed all too necessary, or Nintendo’s fiasco with Super Mario 3D All-Stars where a barebones collection of fantastic but barely touched-up games was only available for a limited time.
In a world where game developers and publishers seem to just not care enough for the legacy titles they are bringing back, it’s refreshing to have a remaster like Quake II. Nightdive Studios really showed the love and appreciation they have for the original game, while including an exhaustive amount of content (old and new) for an unbelievably low price. This is one of the finest remasters I’ve ever experienced, and it should serve as the model by which game re-releases should follow in the future. If you really want to show how much you care about gamers — and the legacy of the IPs your gaming company owns — take some notes on how Quake II did it, because Nightdive truly did something special here.
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