Enemy Territory: Quake Wars Console First Look

In case you forgot, mankind won't fight back against the Strogg on the PC alone. We checked out an exclusive demo of Quake Wars on the Xbox 360 for the first time.


Enemy Territory: Quake Wars has topped PC gamers' most-wanted lists for over two years now, and it's not hard to see why. This follow-up to developer Splash Damage's previous Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory combines the large-scale, vehicle-oriented, team-based combat of the Battlefield series with the mythos, signature weapons, and intense run-'n-gun action of traditional Quake games. But PC gamers won't be the only ones waging the battle for (or against) Earth. After id Software announced console versions of Quake Wars earlier this year, we spied neither hide nor hair of the game running on either the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. That is, not until we took a trip to Dallas-based Nerve Software--longtime id collaborator and the developer currently hard at work bringing Quake Wars to the Xbox--to get a look at the console version firsthand.

For those console-only gamers among you who haven't been keeping up with our extensive previous coverage of the PC version of Quake Wars, a brief primer. This new game is based on the setting first established by 1997's Quake II (and then recently extended by Quake IV), which involves humanity's near-future fight against a race of malevolent techno-space zombies called the Strogg. Previous games saw mankind invading its enemies' home world of Stroggos, but in Quake Wars, the Strogg will take the fight directly to Earth, so you'll play as either the human defenders or the Strogg aggressors across a series of maps set in locations all over the planet. Each side will have five character classes and a raft of vehicles and deployable gear with which to wage war and conquer your mission objectives, which are arranged logically and sequentially toward a specific ultimate goal on each map.

Quake Wars' single-player campaign mode will take you to four distinct geographical regions, such as North Africa and the Pacific Rim.
Quake Wars' single-player campaign mode will take you to four distinct geographical regions, such as North Africa and the Pacific Rim.

While primary development on Quake Wars has been ongoing at UK-based Splash Damage for quite some time, Nerve Software and Activision's Foster City, California-based development office have come online more recently as the teams devoted to getting the game up and running respectively on the 360 and PS3. However, these guys aren't just working on simple ports; this is a collaborative effort from a number of different development teams spread between California, Texas, and the UK. For example, Nerve itself designed a handful of the maps in the game. Even id Software is in on the act, with sound engineer Christian Antkow assisting with the audio design, and id programmer John Dean working full-time on the bot artificial intelligence.

It's a good thing the developers are paying due attention to the bots. By now, PC gamers are used to buying online-only multiplayer games, but console users have greater expectations for a solid single-player experience. Thus the 360 and PS3 versions of Quake Wars will contain a solo mode that divides the 12 maps up by geographical region into four distinct campaigns that take place in locales like North Africa and the Pacific Rim. These campaigns will purportedly last around 90 minutes each--or however long it takes you to gain victory across the three included maps--and you'll rack up gameplay-relevant rewards and upgrades through exemplary performance over the course of your single campaign session.

The PC game's maps and other content will make the jump intact to the Xbox 360 and PS3.
The PC game's maps and other content will make the jump intact to the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Dean is working to make the bots behave as much like human players as possible. You'll be able to set the bot skill level before a match, but no bot will be omniscient; they'll be constrained by the same gameplay limitations as human players. For example, when the AI team widens its radar range, your computer-controlled enemies will be able to better track your own soldiers' movements. When the covert ops player class takes on the appearance of a fallen enemy soldier, his breathing will sound like his native race when he sprints, and the bots will be able to recognize this dead giveaway just as well as human players will.

Your own teammates will also be quite capable--we saw a demo played from the attacking side on the Sewer map (the same map now available for play in the ET: QW public beta), where the player was left in the dust as his AI comrades methodically knocked out one objective after another. Luckily, the game will contain what id and Nerve referred to colloquially as a "hero" mode, which will cause your bot teammates to drop into a support role and prevent them from completing map-specific objectives, such as arming a massive mining laser or deploying a shield disruptor. That's basically so you can hog all the glory and do the fun stuff yourself.

As mentioned, throughout a single campaign session, you'll build up and retain rewards and upgrades for each of the game's classes as you pull off specific feats. Don't think you'll get beefed up just by killing lots of enemies, though; the rewards require you to play your class skillfully, so you might have to score a certain number of kills with deployable mines or turrets, or disable a certain amount of enemy gear to receive one. These rewards will improve your abilities in a multitude of ways: Various classes may see such upgrades as shortened lock-on times, increased repair or hacking speeds, greater ammo capacities, faster reloads, mine detection, new weapons, and improved vehicle armor. You'll also gain new general ranks for each player class, and all of these rewards will tie into the achievements in the Xbox 360 version (along with a number of generalized combat- and vehicle-related achievements).

Each character class will have a large number of potential upgrades that are awarded for exemplary battlefield performance.
Each character class will have a large number of potential upgrades that are awarded for exemplary battlefield performance.

Although Nerve has been working on the Xbox 360 version of Quake Wars for only a little over a year, Splash Damage actually had the PC game up and running on a 360 controller more than two years ago. So a lot of thought has already gone into fitting the game's myriad control functions onto the controller's limited button set, and further refinement is expected before release. The designers have included a limited degree of auto-aim in the console versions, but that auto-aim won't kick in until you actually score your first hit on someone. So you'll need at least a modicum of skill to have a chance in most firefights, aiming assistance or not.

Much of the control will depend on button combos and quick-access menus. For instance, you can pop up a context-sensitive radial menu that will offer you a number of canned phrases you can communicate to your teammates. To switch weapons, you can pop up a list with a face button and quickly cycle through with the shoulder buttons. Likewise, you can easily pull up a list of currently available objectives, select one to find out which of your teammates is working on that objective, and then have them appear as floating icons directly in your view. Quake Wars is as tactical as other games in this genre, but as mentioned, it emphasizes intense Quake-style shooter action as well. So the designers seem to be taking care that the tactical controls don't get in the way of your more immediate need to plant a railgun slug between the eyes of your opponent.

We saw the Xbox version of Quake Wars running a handful of different maps, including the previously mentioned Sewer. There was also Island, which will task human forces with pulling off a largely amphibious assault on a Strogg-occupied observatory; Area 22, in which the Strogg will attempt to shut down a human research facility in the Nevada desert; and Salvage, set in a wintry environment that will present few vehicles and few interiors, which will force the defenders to make good use of deployable equipment to drive the defenders back. Between all the vehicles, deployable equipment, character classes (each with their own selectable primary weapons), and multiple paths through each map dependent on the abilities of your class, we're eager to see how the final game balance shakes out. The bot-driven games we witnessed seemed to flow smoothly from one objective to the next, but real human interaction across all the maps and gameplay options will naturally put the game to the real test.

Whether that pilot's a human player or a bot, you're probably dead either way.
Whether that pilot's a human player or a bot, you're probably dead either way.

Matches in the console versions of Quake Wars will top out at 16 players (somewhat reduced from the PC game), but otherwise Nerve hasn't made any cuts to the content in bringing the game to the Xbox 360. Performance looked reasonably smooth and steady in the pre-alpha build of the game we were shown, and the team plans to make more significant refinements to the engine in the coming months, including splitting the graphics renderer and the networking code onto different cores of the 360's CPU, which should help improve performance further.

Taking a cue from some other 360 games, Quake Wars won't have a traditional server browser. Instead, it will use what Nerve is referring to as an "iterative search" that filters through available games based on your specific criteria, and the game will factor in Microsoft's centralized TrueSkill database in an attempt to match you up with players who are at roughly your skill level. Based on features such as these and the sample matches we saw, it looks like Nerve and Activision are thoughtfully adapting an ambitious, large-scale PC game to the console environment without sacrificing graphical fidelity or gameplay accessibility. Of course, we'll have to wait until the final version of Quake Wars emerges on all platforms to gauge the game's quality in the online space, where it really counts. When will we get to do that? As always, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars will see release on all platforms "when it's done."

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Avatar image for Skullcandy

I keep telling people that this game was crap on the PC and would be crap on the consoles. What do you know, it gets a 6.5 review and proves that I should be reviewing games for a living.

Avatar image for Mega-Tom

LOL Im always amazed to see companys that turn an "okish" PC game into a "pile of crap" console game. I already have the PC version so im not bothering with this one.

Avatar image for onimushu

Hatefish2 - Have you ever played 32-player or 64-player Battlefield 2/2142? 8v8 will be fun for competitive play and those who want a more Halo-like experience. Unfortunately, for a game like this with so many vehicles and class customization options, I think the limited number of players will worsen this game. The developers, IMHO, should have made two objectives available to concentrate combat but also make it more tactical...

Avatar image for Hatefish2

Everyone is whining about player amount but think about it on a scale of actual balanced competitive play. Are you sure you want to command more than 8 people while trying to win against another team? I suppose most of you people don't think about things like that though do you? Since the battles are all objective based most of the fighting will be concentrated with medics constantly rezzing people. I'm sure action will be fine.

Avatar image for thenephariouson

8 Vs 8 is pathetic! on a game like this, should at least be 16 Vs 16. not gonna bother!

Avatar image for BikerPunk

hmmmm 8vs8 is kinda lame. oh well. Maybe get it for the PC then. Muah haha. seriously tho, its too bad they were not able to up the player abilities. If a PC can run this stuff with higher players, why cant a 360? isnt the 360 just a PC thats dedicated to games? pretty much?

Avatar image for Halo3_RBS

If you have played the PC demo for ETQW i think 8V8 is ok i would like more players but w/e

Avatar image for page999

Ohh come on i like to smash newbs...

Avatar image for battlemaster97

8 vs 8 ??!!!! thats the lamest thing ive ever heard from a game. So much for this being good

Avatar image for leke

i hate it when games dont allow ou to browse a server. sometimes you'll be stuck waiting for the stupid matchmaker for a while

Avatar image for crunchb3rry

The game places you based on TrueSkill? TrueSkill is a joke. So are Zones and Reputation, since almost every single 360 game doesn't bother to use those correctly. The best placement would be to use all three of them. So you can opt to only play with people from your own Zone, not play against 1-star griefers, and actually play with people from your skill level instead of people that like to join games and stomp newbies. Friend invites should not work either unless the friends happen to have identical setups (at least TrueSkill and Zone). Microsoft adds these three "revolutionary" player matching features, so why does it still feel like the stone age playing online?

Avatar image for NinjaMunkey01

looks good. I might get this but i can see games like UT3 or warhawk being more fun.

Avatar image for NinjaMunkey01

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for The_Weekend

sounds really good ... at least the powering up part makes a lot of sense

Avatar image for xXrebel666Xx

I couldn't give a rat's arse about what Nerve are doing, tell us more about what Splash Damage and Z-axix are doing =]

Avatar image for darkcast

I also cant wait for there to be only 1 medic per team or 1 engineer per team.

Avatar image for darkcast

oh great... 8v8. Pay same price as PC get less fun. How are we to feel the true WAR atmosphere when your in a battlefield with only 7 guys around u?? This is a joke! I can see it now... "Come on guys lets attack the outpost" the entire jeep gets there in 1 jeep. So much for for the all out war. Atleast 24 would have been ideal. PC have dedicated servers so they can fit even 64. if they pay up.

Avatar image for sangoanuta

It's funny how they defend they concept: "You can do the mission having ABSOLUTELY no idea of what your teammate is doing! I mean, you can do everything without having ANY clue what's that for, what will be importante, and why! Isn't that great?"

Avatar image for Andrew_D28

"Is it just me or did they rip the name off of "Halo Wars"(X360)?" Nope, Enemy Territory: Quake wars has been in development and was announced before HALO Wars. Also im probably gonna snag this on 360 anyway. Sure it might be a PC game first and foremost, but unlike other PC games where the SP is really where its at, it seems this game will fair better on consoles. Especially since most PC gamers in MP seem not to use the voice chat function...or talk at all. Thats what i've experienced in HL2 DM, Quake 4, UT2k4, and many other PC MP games.

Avatar image for noelyk8

They should change the name to Quake Skirmish.

Avatar image for thekey

I just hope the 360 version runs at 60 frames per second.

Avatar image for Rentago

Apokalipse, you and many other ignorant people like to make those comparisons in many and often unreasonable ways. Infact I don't know how you pulled that out of your ass, but a job well done at that. Halo Wars is a RTS so you can't truely compare it, though Quake was around for many years before anything related or called Halo came out also, making it more of Halo ripping it off if your going to blandly put it as that. Quake Wars, is a FPS, though in quake you were fighting the strogg it kinda went like Doom, though now it is made into a Battle Field like game. So it is all out multiplayer with vehicles than before just you in story mode. Halo Wars referrs to the wars on the first Halo, which when they encounter the covenant and the other spartans existed also. Quake Wars is basically referring as wars... many, many, wars. Wars based on the battles agenst mankind and the strogg. Halo Wars is a proper title, sort of. Quake Wars, is better than saying Quake Field: Future Combat. Can you grasp that?

Avatar image for xJBones79x

I only hope the PC version will be as good as it looks like on the screens

Avatar image for Apokalipse

Is it just me or did they rip the name off of "Halo Wars"(X360)?

Avatar image for acej2000

8 v 8 :/

Avatar image for sharpshooter188

also. that damn rail gun better kill in 1 shot with low armor and 2 with high! -shakes fist-

Avatar image for sharpshooter188

isent this like..not coming out til next year? i mean i know it says september. but im expecting a delay honestly.

Avatar image for Mkeegs79

Reserved and Paid. Just waiting for pick up. :D

Avatar image for USATitan

Boratman, the PC version supports 24 players. But Splash Damage has said that Quake Wars was built so that 6v6 would be the ideal player count for regular/competitive matches. So even though the console versions support 8 less players than the Pc version, 12-16 players is plenty for a Quake Wars game.

Avatar image for gamer_girl15

I'll probably get pwned in multiplayer but I still want to play it :P

Avatar image for boratman

Doesn't the pc version support like 40 or more players?

Avatar image for peeweeshift

if you want singleplayer from quake you will be screwed. quake was never meant for singleplayer. they try to hype it up but i know all i wil do is play multi. hopefully people will like it if they buy it with singleplayer in mind but they should really know that it probably wont fill there craving

Avatar image for mrhankeydinks

i really wish they would make it cross platform the pc and 360 users.

Avatar image for LowlyKnight

I hope they fix the crappy controls from the previous Quake game for 360

Avatar image for F1sTDaCuffS

this is like comand and conquer meets battlefield 2. very wierd.

Avatar image for Brainkiller05

Looks great :)

Avatar image for jcloverboy

Looks great. Getting it for sure.

Avatar image for mach-stem

32-64 players minimum is what all multiplayer games should be about by now. It's not to say 16-24 play matches can't be fun, but the more people I can kill the better, and if there is a larger selection of folks ready to get whooped, then so be it! ;) Anything over 32 players offers more strategy and gives more "rock-paper-scisor"/"sandbox" action, in my opinion. If there are only 16 players, then everyone tends to know everyone else's strategy, and gets boring real quick. Clans love the smaller servers for that simple purpose: if you know how the other team plays, then it makes your job easier. PEACE

Avatar image for duhNeighbour

"ebookerd1: Look cool but I have no clue if I'm going to pick this one up. It's Questionable" It's obviously less questionable than Shadowrun.

Avatar image for ebookerd1

Look cool but I have no clue if I'm going to pick this one up. It's Questionable

Avatar image for blorg13

to hongkingkong: 8 players? WTF? most games go to at least 16 and some go to 32, even on the PC it's hard to find a 32 person game that isn't full of TKers and hackers.

Avatar image for carpathianrogue

"So the designers seem to be taking care that the tactical controls don't get in the way of your more immediate need to plant a railgun slug between the eyes of your opponent." The one thing that killed Shadowrun, for me. Having to remember button combos, when I wanted to concentrate fully on actually playing the game. I'm pleased to see that that shouldn't be an issue in ET:QW. The "Hero" mode is also a welcome inclusion, so you don't feel like just a spectator, until you get up to speed. Go teams, and I'm looking forward to seeing the finished game. :)

Avatar image for manueltt

Commenting to (Soupflakez), yes wut that guy said was bull, but just to put it out there i build my self a better PC than console by far and it cost me 1480$ CAD. i don't really care, im just commenting to ur 3000$ for a better PC reemark..yeah thats also bull

Avatar image for Romayo83

cost loads to top up online? its 4.60 a month....lol anyways looks like a decent title definately worth a try. Quake never fails me

Avatar image for halogaro13

360 ftw!

Avatar image for NinjaMunkey01

I will definately get this for my PS3 instead of the 360 as it would cost loads to keep online play topped up on the 360 and there are loads of games I want. Halo 3, Warhawk ect...

Avatar image for hongkingkong

I agree with sweedish chef. Good point. I sure hope this game has more than the usual standard 8 player BS like on most top 360 games, it can't compete with the PC otherwise (ie. 64 player online on BF2 and thats free, while its £35 or $50 or as many euros to play 8 player gears which lags!)

Avatar image for Soupflakez

BenTheJamin, dude pull your head out of your ass, "Because the 360 cant handle 64 people it has a piece of crap processor and graphics card....." Let's see, you're absoultely right, the 3 symmetrical processors running at 3.2 Ghz each is a **** processor. Oh we can't forget the graphics card, the xenos that runs at 500 mhz and has 48 ati, yep sure is a **** console, try getting a pc with those specs for 400, waiiitttt, YOU CAN'T!!!!! for consoles, you don't need to bother with stupid little crap when upgrading you just buy another console, which will prbly be 400! and that's over a 5 year life span. Sure some pc ported games like Call of Duty aren't super great on the xbox360, but who cares, the xbox has plenty of good games and games to come, like halo 3, mass effect, bioshock, gta4, dead rising, graw1 and 2, gears of war, prbly gears of war 2, guitar hero 2, and the list just gets bigger, so you know what, go spend 3000 dollars to have a comp thats better than a 400 dollar console.

Avatar image for Swedish_Chef

"Halo 3 has already been beaten multiple times... to name a few HL2, Crysis, and BioShock" HL2 won't sell as many copies as Halo 3, why? Because Half life 2 has been out for like 2 years on the PC. One minor episode update does not game of the year make. Last I heard Crysis was PC only... And bioshock won't outsell Halo 3. A single player game will not outsell the multiplayer game of the year, and a game that everyone who's played halo is wanting to play to finish the story.

Avatar image for d3r7y

Looks good. PC ports are never better than the originals. But hey, at least the PC gamers aren't having all the fun. Im sure XboX LiVe will be the way to go for the console users.