Two-and-a-half decades after it came out, classic id Software FPS Quake 2 just got a big expansion: 28 new campaign levels from MachineGames, creator of the modern Wolfenstein games. That would be pretty cool on its own, but it's just the cherry on top of an absolutely magnificent Quake 2 remaster. The overhauled Quake 2 was announced at QuakeCon today, naturally, and then immediately released. This bad boy fits so much Quake 2 in it:
- The original campaign, expansions The Reckoning and Ground Zero, the N64 levels, and the new Call of the Machine episode
- Toggleable graphics upgrades that are stylistically consistent with the original (muzzle flashes, fog, improved lighting, that kind of thing)
- Loads of accessibility features
- Split-screen and online multiplayer
- Co-op, deathmatch, team deathmatch, and CTF, with lots of built-in mutators
- PC/console crossplay
- Support for custom Quake 2 maps, new and old
- Support for new mods, or old ones that have been updated for this 64-bit version
- Improved AI enemies and bots
I'm leaving out a lot of details, because there's so much here: Bethesda gets into specifics in the release notes, then goes even deeper in a technical rundown. Like the excellent Quake 1 remaster, which also featured a MachineGames-developed expansion, this one was made in partnership with the old game CPR specialists at Nightdive Studios, who just put out the great System Shock remake.
The remaster is available now as a free update for the existing version of Quake 2, so if you already own that, you have it. The new version hasn't buried the old one, though. You can still run the original Quake 2. On Steam, that's handled with the usual pop-up with multiple launch options.
I can't think of anything else to ask for here. It's too bad mods for the original Quake 2 can't be used as-is in the remaster—I was a big time teenage Action Quake 2 player—but id Software has released the remaster's source code so that mods can be updated to work with it, or new ones created.
The original version of Quake 2 does run on modern PCs, but it was finicky, and to find multiplayer matches you had to go looking for server IP addresses to manually input. Now you can just browse a list of open games or create one of your own, with instagib on if you're cool. I have, of course, already tried out the remaster, and it runs as great as you'd hope from an almost 26-year-old game—the original released in December of 1997.