Nightdive's Quake 2: Enhanced, out now (
from to on 11 Aug 2023 02:03 +0000

Just like Quake 1, if you already own Quake 2, the enhanced version is available as a free update. Although unlike Quake 1, Quake 2: Enhanced is also available on GOG day 1.

In addition to visual updates, there’s a new episode “Call of the Machine”, Quake 2 N64, a pass to the enemy AI which changes a few behaviors and attacks, removes machine gun recoil, a new infinite use item that shows the player where to go next, and a number of other qol and accessibility options.

Anecdotally, I find the addition of Q2 N64 very appealing. It’s a mish-mash of pared-down maps from vanilla Q2 and the expansions in a strictly linear fashion - no backtracking. Of course, there’s also changes to the lighting and a new OST by Aubrey Hodges. Being able to control the game from keyboard / mouse is a godsend. I played the game in emulator with a modern gamepad and it was barely, barely doable, even when I could manually set deadzones and sensitivities and the like. It was awful.

#retrogaming on 11 Aug 2023 02:20 +0000 next

Bit disappointed that it doesn’t include the RTX functionality, but still really excited. Always loved the first three quakes (even if Unreal is better) and this has been a great opportunity to run through the game again while waiting for AC6. on 11 Aug 2023 18:47 +0000

I’ve seen this sentiment in a few places, and feel like I’m going nuts over here. Am I really the only one who thinks Quake 2 RTX looks like absolute ass?

It’s got nice real-time shadow effects, obviously, but everything else is a washed out mess of stretched textures and normal maps that make everything look like it’s made of plastic.

This is one of the official screenshots used to promote it and it looks like a 2007 tech demo. on 11 Aug 2023 18:52 +0000

If you think that is a 2007 tech demo then… You clearly don’t remember 2007

But yeah. It isn’t a flagship use of ray tracing (… actually, it is, but that speaks more to the general lack of ray tracing in gaming). But it is a really cool nod to history (since quake 2 was one of the earlier games to have dynamic lighting) that does a good job of making quake 2 look like what we remembered quake 2 looking like (same as you remember 2007 looking like that).

The dynamic lighting never looked ANYWHERE near that good but… in our minds it did.

And it also kind of became a weird time capsule of what ray tracing was. When the two big early examples of RTX were… Minecraft and Quake 2 (Control existed but the specs were already high enough for most folk before you popped the toggle).

Mostly it is just a bit disappointing that something that exists and was mostly official isn’t part of the re-release. But I suspect there are some shenanigans with how nvidia licensed that and so forth.

And as an add-on. Yeah, the RTX is gonna look shit in the outdoor maps. Mostly because of how those were lit, relative to the indoor ones. Most people never got past the first level (or really, first room or two) in Q2RTX and those were some of the best. Because they were meant to show off the dynamic lighting back in the 90s so all light came from sources that had corresponding texture and geometry. So switching to ray tracing makes those lights look a LOT better. Whereas external areas still involved a lot of ambient lighting and multiple fake sources to represent the sun.

It is similarly why stuff like Control and Cyberpunk… didn’t look all that amazing. Because most scenes were not lit solely with “real” lights. Yes, you had the overhead fluorescent and that desk lamp. But you also had ambient lighting to get the right “vibe”. So once you switch from (largely) pre-baked lighting to ray tracing… all of those ambient lights and false sources are now making things look washed out or like they “glow” in the wrong way. Because now you do have realistic ray tracing of the light from the overhead and you might even have the right materials on the walls to get the diffusion of some shitty taupe paint over drywall. But you also now have the light from those “fake” lights being traced too.

I am not up to date on how modern level design works. But if you are really interested? Go look up a few editor tutorials for Unreal Tournament or Quake 3. UT in particular is really easy to see all the lights that get put in the scene before you bake them in. You obviously want to put a light source on the desk lamp mesh. But… you also probably need a few in the hallway to mimic the diffusion that comes from said desk lamp’s light reflecting off the walls. on 11 Aug 2023 02:56 +0000 next

Nightdive Studios just keeps on pumping out banger releases. on 16 Aug 2023 11:57 +0000

I hope they do Turok 3 eventually. on 11 Aug 2023 06:46 +0000 next

Awesome, the episode they added to the original Quake was fantastic so this should deliver as well. Also, I never played the N64 game either. Nightdive is too good for this world. on 15 Aug 2023 23:22 +0000

I’ve booted it a few times on my n64, it’s playable… but this is a much better way to play those levels. on 11 Aug 2023 07:28 +0000 next

Nice to play some Q2 Deathmatch with people. Real lag. Feels like the good ol’ days! on 11 Aug 2023 07:36 +0000 next

I’m liking it but some of the gameplay changes are a little jarring after having played through the original hundreds of times over the years. The only one I really wish I could toggle off is the barrels exploding after a short timer, it’s bit me in the butt a few times and even helped when I managed to somehow make a barrel launch across a room and kill some strogg when the one next to it went off. on 11 Aug 2023 08:48 +0000 next

I noticed a few things while playing the N64 campaign.

It’s not 1:1 parity with the console version, and it’s not meant to be (and that’s a good thing, actually).

How it works is they use N64 textures, OST, and maps. Everything else is from the new engine - including the new enemy AI changes and balance adjustments, etc.

A good portion of the game is spent in anti-gravity. You may not have the rocket launcher, or much ammo for it yet, relying on grenades to take down bigger baddies like enforcers or tanks. The trajectory of a grenade on authentic hardware is net positive, so it’s about impossible to aim. On Q2 Enhanced, it just means the grenade fires straight out of the barrel. Little things like that stand out.

The Nintendo 64 campaign on Hard, with deaths, took me about 3 hours. This is how I have always wanted to play this version of the game. It’s indescribably better than trying to play it on an actual Nintendo 64 or even emulated. on 11 Aug 2023 19:13 +0000

a new infinite use item that shows the player where to go next

Why? Isn’t Quake II a little too linear as is? This would’ve been much more welcome in ROTT remaster honestly.