As much as I love the mod scene for old PC games, I realized I haven’t looked much at Quake‘s mod scene compared to others. The last mods I played for Quake was stuff like Quake Done Quick with a Vengeance, which was made more as a demo of the game rather than something actually playable.
So for today, we’re gonna tackle some Quake mods that tried their best to be a bit more tactical in their approach. Both of these were released around the same time, and share a few similarities but both have their own unique quirks.
First on our list is a mod called Navy Seals Quake. This mod features a bevvy of new weapons such as the Mark 23 SOCOM pistol, the MP5 (and its silenced variant), a Mossberg tactical shotgun, even an M16 assault rifle with grenade launcher. While those seem like fairly common things now, for when this came out in 1998, that was considered pretty impressive.
There are three unique levels made for Navy Seals Quake, though selecting New Game oddly takes you to the default Quake start level. The levels all feature you going in and killing everything while completing objectives like destroying a jet and disarming “RADEK” bombs. You can also play through regular Quake with these new weapons, giving you a different taste of the game, but only a handful of characters were replaced, leaving you with custom marine models mixed in with default Quake enemies like Ogres and Scrags.
In a unique twist, Navy Seals Quake features weapons that reload, realistic ammo management where partial-ammo reloads remove the bullets inside, the option to use flashbang grenades, even allowing you to headshot enemies and gib their heads. This was pretty advanced for its time, and it’s quite impressive.
There is one interesting thing about Navy Seals Quake – it was made by a guy named Minh “Gooseman” Le. He would later go on to help make Action Quake II and a little fun multiplayer FPS you might’ve heard of called Counter-Strike. Le was one of the co-creators of Counter-Strike, who later worked with Valve up until Counter-Strike: Source. Le would later go on to make a CS successor called Tactical Intervention, which had some of the same features as Counter-Strike but with some new twists. While it wasn’t particularly outstanding, it did leave for some dumb moments.
Originally I was going to feature just Navy Seals Quake in this article, as I thought that was the only notable tactical mod for Quake. But then somebody introduced me to another tactical Quake mod, and I had to give this one a try as well.
The other tactical mod is Special Forces Quake, while it shares some elements with Navy Seals Quake, it has its own unique quirks. Both have human enemies, realistic weapons and a level set that tries to be tactical. However, Special Forces Quake feels more fleshed out, with a few unique features of its own.
In this one, you’re given a unique episode set to play with, all of which give you new guns to work with – the MP5 that reloads, a generic shotgun, a sniper rifle, to even stuff like C4 and a mine launcher. Not only is there realistic weapons, there’s a flashlight for the MP5, a grappling hook, a zoom in feature (usually for the sniper rifle but available for any weapon), even crouching. All for stuff that was pretty impressive for Quake mods, even by 1998-99.
There’s a few new bad guys that are mostly reskins of existing Quake characters, such as ogres now having a tough guy look, small helicopters that fire rockets, blobs that explode and do toxic damage, and the knights being replaced with ninjas. There’s even hostages to rescue throughout, but the dialog for them and other characters repeat way too much. Expect to hear “POP QUIZ, HOTSHOT” from the bad guys constantly, which I found grating after hearing it the first few times.
A shame that Special Forces Quake is also ridiculously hard. Both mods have the problem of trying to be realistic, and that applies to you as well as your enemies, which means these were difficult to get through even on easy. A shame too, because there’s some cool stuff here in this mod.
Minh “Gooseman” Le also contributed to Special Forces Quake, featuring MP5 and shotgun models that might’ve been reused from Navy Seals Quake. The problem is that those weapons still have the left-handed viewmodel tilt that he was known for, compared to everything else which keeps the traditional centered look of Quake‘s weapons. Outside of that, I don’t think anyone else who worked on Special Forces Quake works in the biz today, but I didn’t do a lot of research on that front.
Mod creator “The Hitman” teased a sequel called Special Forces ][: Deadly Force Authorized which would’ve added items like infrared goggles, dirt bikes and even class selection. Would’ve been pretty ambitious for a game around that time, but as far as I know this never got released. I do hope they’re still around making stuff today, because in spite of the difficulty of Special Forces Quake, it was a cool idea, showing people what one could do with game engines.
You can find Navy Seals Quake here, while Special Forces Quake can be found here, both courtesy of Quake Terminus. Both require version 1.06 of registered Quake or higher, and I recommend using a source port like Quakespasm. From looking at the readme files, using GLQuake is not recommended for either of these, which I wholeheartedly agree with. You can read this article on Quake site Quaddicted for the reasons why.
Games such as Call of Duty have to give some credit to these mods. Not many games were doing what these guys were thinking, and in the case of both, they had people who would later go on to change the way gaming would go, for better or worse. They’re not the best Quake mods around, but they’re certainly the most significant.
Updated 4/1/2020 for grammar and clarity, as well as a few new screen shots. I originally wrote this to tie into Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which was coming out the day before I published this.
Now it’s more of a general celebration of fascinating Quake mods, which is getting a bit of a resurgence thanks to mods like Arcane Dimensions. Even now, people are doing pretty cool things with Quake, and that’s pretty damn cool to me.