The year 2001 marked the release one of the best uses of the Quake III engine (since Quake III itself), Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and shortly afterward, developer Splash Damage, in collaboration with id Software and Activision, released a free multiplayer add-on, Enemy Territory. The game was extremely well-received by fans, not only because it was free, but also because it really expanded on the original Wolfenstein's multiplayer--a team-based mode that let players choose to play as medics, assault troopers, and engineers, among others, while embarking on specific, directed objectives (like stealing key documents or destroying gun emplacements). And there was that whole "free" thing, which we may have mentioned. Now, the creators of the first Enemy Territory add-on are working on an all-new game, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.
This new game will at once be very different, but also very similar, to the original Enemy Territory. Perhaps the most obvious (and possibly the most jarring) difference will be the fact that Enemy Territory will be a full-on retail product that id and Splash Damage are supporting with as much of a budget and production resources as they would expend on any other top-tier game. Why put the second Enemy Territory game on store shelves with a price tag? According to id Software's Kevin Cloud, this was a decision that had been made some time ago, and it wasn't a sudden change of heart. Cloud and Splash Damage managing director Paul Wedgwood agreed some time ago to approach the next game as a full-on retail product that will expand upon everything that made the original game great, but will also add lots of new content and features that should hopefully justify the ticket price.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars will be an online-only multiplayer shooter that will actually take place just before the beginning of Quake II (when the warlike aliens known as the strogg had invaded the Earth). Quake Wars will take place during the initial invasion and will pit two teams against each other: the strogg and a united group of human soldiers known as Earth Defense Force (or EDF, for short). The EDF will be armed with fairly conventional weaponry, like assault rifles and grenade launchers, as well as four-wheeled jeep-class vehicles and tanks. The strogg will possess alien weaponry, and they'll be divided into totally different character classes. And yes, by the way, we did say vehicles.
Many of the missions in Quake Wars will take place in huge outdoor areas in which the fastest mode of transport will be in a vehicle, and thanks to reworked physics that have been appropriated in part from the Doom III engine, vehicles will handle and deform realistically (we watched a demonstration as part of a promotional trailer that showed a jeep skidding off the side of a road, only to have its tires shot off a moment later). And yes, some parts of Doom III technology are being used for Quake Wars. But we can say with complete certainty that Quake Wars does not look like Doom III. This is due at least in part to the huge and surprisingly detailed outdoor areas that are possible, thanks to an all-new "megatexture" mapping technology developed by id Software programming guru John Carmack. The megatexture is essentially one huge, continuous texture map that can stretch all the way to the horizon, without any need for fog or other effects to mask a limited draw distance or texture tiles that repeat and show seams at the edges.
When asked about what kind of game modes Quake Wars would have, Cloud offered that the concept of game modes didn't really apply, since each of the game's missions will play out very differently. Some missions will be night-ops missions that will involve tense, close-quarters battles augmented by the way the game will realistically model the physical properties of objects (walking on steel-plated floors will be noisier than walking on grass, for instance). However, in all missions, players will be rewarded not only for having excellent aim, but also for contributing to the team goals with points that will add to a persistent ranking system. The game will also further encourage teamwork by giving each player specific goals that should help new players figure out how to play their character classes, and should give players of all skill levels a good indication, at a glance, of what needs to be done to help win the match (beyond "hey, I'm bored, I think I'll grab a vehicle that other players need and drive around someplace"). In any case, both Wedgwood and Cloud reaffirmed their dedication to making Enemy Territory a challenging but balanced game that rewards skill and good teamwork, citing their lengthy development and support for the previous game as proof.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars certainly looks great from a visual standpoint, but it should be interesting to see whether it will be able to go toe-to-toe with heavy-hitter vehicle-based shooters like the soon-to-be-released Battlefield 2. Quake Wars is tentatively scheduled for release sometime next year.