Quake 4 has essentially been forgotten in 2021, and most folks are fine with that. Even id itself seems willing to let it rot away in some forgotten morgue, with the official Quake collection on Steam omitting Quake 4 entirely. But I was curious. Was Quake 4 really that bad? And if so, what went wrong? So I bought Quake 4 in 2021 and played it and I can report that it’s…not great, but for some interesting reasons.
Quake 4 came out during a strange time for id shooters. Doom 3 had released the year before, and while critics and some fans enjoyed it, many felt it was too slow compared to older id games. And while Doom 3’s engine was technically impressive, it really could only do one kind of game: Doom 3. It was a game built for an engine and it meant that the next game to use that tech, Quake 4, would be like Doom 3 in a lot of ways, both bad and good.
However, id didn’t develop Quake 4. id moved on to Rage, a game that would continue the developer’s long era of misfires and flops. (It wouldn’t end until 2016’s Doom.) Instead, Quake 4 was developed by Raven Software.