Quake II's Killer Remake Is Out Now For PC And Console With A Bonus Expansion

hero quake2 remaster
It should probably come as no surprise to fans of so-called "boomer shooters" that Night Dive Studios has just published another KEX-engine re-make of a legendary title. Since you read the headline, you know that the title in question is Id Software's Quake II, from December of 1997. Released as part of a surprise announcement at QuakeCon, the new Quake II is available now on Steam, and free for folks who already owned Q2 on Steam.

"But Zak," you wonder, "why would I play this version when I already have Quake II RTX?" Well, my wondering wards, the answer to that question is "you might not." Just like with the original Quake re-make as well as Night Dive's many other re-releases of classic games (including the first two Turok games, nearly every version of classic Doom, Blood, Powerslave, and many, many others), this is an extremely faithful remake—despite porting the game to an entirely different engine known as KEX after its creator, Samuel "Kaiser" Villareal.

quake2 tower

Because it is so faithful, what you're getting here is a very-lightly-enhanced version of the original 1997 title. You won't find garish lens flare or post-processing effects here; Night Dive's work on improving the looks of these old games is done with a careful hand. Characters and weapons have improved geometric and texture detail, but remain extremely faithful to the art and design sensibilities of the original release. Shadows and lighting have been subtly improved, but unless you've played the original recently, you're not likely to notice.

As a result, if you enjoy the path-traced lighting and physical-based materials of Quake II RTX, you may not be particularly taken with the standard Quake II game here. Fortunately, Night Dive's new release doesn't just have the original Quake II game. Besides the 1997 release, you also get both official mission packs (The Reckoning, Ground Zero) as well as an all-new expansion called Call of the Machine. Plus, you can play the modified version of Quake II released for the Nintendo 64 for maximum nostalgia.

quake2 makron

Also, being that Quake II RTX is essentially a hack of the original game's source code, getting multiplayer working in 2023 can be a real pain in the butt if you're not just setting up a LAN game. By contrast, KEX engine supports both local and online multiplayer, including full campaign co-op. It even has cross-play on all supported platforms. Best of all, the Quake II remaster includes the original game files, so you can still load up the 1997 quake2.exe or Quake II RTX afterward if you're curious to see the changes for yourself.

If I've sold you on the game but you're short on cash, don't worry. Quake II is just ten bucks on Steam. That's twice the price it has been for a long time, but it also includes a ton of extra content, now. Also, as we noted above, if you owned Quake II on Steam before this release, you're probably already downloading the updated version. Take note, Rockstar—this is how you re-release an old game.