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Quake III: Arena

aka: Q3, Q3A, Quake 3, Quake Arena, Quake III: Arena (Elite Edition)

Description official descriptions

The third game in the Quake series is a departure from the previous games, focusing exclusively on multiplayer arena fighting with no story-driven singleplayer part - directly competing with Epic Games that did the same with the contemporary Unreal Tournament.

The offline part takes the player through a number of one-on-one and team-based challenges against AI-controlled opponents, slowly ranking upwards in difficulty, as the character of the player's choosing. Compared to the previous titles, the colours and general design of the game are much brighter and it shakes off the dominant shades of brown and grey the previous titles in the series were known for. The player's arsenal consists of new and familiar, but redesigned weapons, including a gauntlet (melee attacks) and a machine gun as the spawn weapons, a shotgun, plasma gun, lightning gun, rocket launcher, railgun, and BFG. Each weapon has specific advantages, ranging from the amount of damage to reloading times and the ability to hit-scan opponents.

The different arenas are also filled with health bubbles, complete sets of armour and armour shards, the well-known Quad Damage power-up, ammunition, and specials such as Mega Health, Haste, Invisibility, a powerful Battlesuit, and more. As with the other Quake games, it is known for its freedom in movement. Advanced players use techniques such as rocket jumping, strafing, and circle jumping to quickly get around areas. The game offers more speed than Quake 2, but it is not as fast as the original Quake. Not everything was kept - the double-jumping from the previous titles was removed for instance, but replaced with new tricks.

The single-player part only serves as a diversion for the online multiplayer options, with modes such as duel, team deathmatch (TDM), capture the flag (CTF), and more. As with Quake II, the vanilla version of the game was eventually heavily tweaked by the players' community with all-new tournament features (including voting, referees, banning, netcode updates), as it was used in professional Pro Gaming tournaments for almost ten years.

The only difference between Quake III: Arena and the limited Elite Edition is the tin box packaging.


  • 雷神之锤III:竞技场 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Linux version)

54 People (53 developers, 1 thanks) · View all

Game Designer
Level Design
Director of Business Development
Biz Assist and id Mom
Special Thanks to
Bot AI
Menu Interface
  • Raster Productions
Linux Conversion
Map Editor
GL Setup
Additional Programming
Additional Level Design
Quake III Arena music
  • Sonic Mayhem www.sonicmayhem.com
[ full credits ]



1001 Video Games

The PC version of Quake III Arena appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Copy protection

As Half-Life, the game shipped with a very controversial multiplayer CD key check. (The key was printed on the case of the CD-ROM)

This system reduced piracy, but also introduced several other interesting issues. Several people who had bought the game were unable to play it online because their cd-key had already been "stolen" by people who used key generator programs to find valid multiplayer keys. There are also numerous reports of Quake III: Arena boxes being opened at the store by dishonest people wanting to get a valid CD key.


After finishing the game, watch the credits roll. After the Credits show "THE END", the character with the hoverskates will skate around the screen like she's just learning.

Cut content

Quake III: Arena had several graphical features cut (assumed for performance reasons, and the arcane OpenGL ICD driver implementations at the time). Quake II-style particles and realistic flares (that occlude behind models and alpha textures) were present in earlier revisions, but did not make it to the final release of the game.

There was also a flamethrower weapon planned, as well as a 3-tier player class system (light, medium, heavy) which were also cut from the design. References to this can still be seen in older Q3Test releases, and the files of the designer player models in a patches' pak2.pk3 (the 1998 dated .skin files).


Some of the features of the id Tech 3 engine:

  • Bump mapping instead of mip mapping: Mip mapping rescaled a texture for several different sizes. Bump mapping actually applies per pixel light calculation for each texture. The trade off is processor speed vs realistic lighting.
  • Curved surfaces: Quake III will interpolate the position of a point by doing real time calculation, based on the curvature of a surface.

German index

On January 12, 2000, Quake III: Arena was put on the infamous German index by the BPjS (confirmed on March 31, 2000). For more information about what this means and to see a list of games sharing the same fate, take a look here: BPjS/BPjM indexed games.

Limited Edition

There was a Limited Edition run of a "tin" game box instead of cardboard. The only difference is the box itself, nothing else extra is included.


  • A downloadable add-on map pack is available on many Quake III: Arena sites on the internet, which contains all the maps from the Dreamcast release of the game. This add-on pack allows players of the Windows/Linux version to play on servers with Dreamcast players. This makes Quake III: Arena one of the first games to support transparent Internet play between a game console and the PC!
  • In an interview on Gamasutra, designer Tim Willits called Quake III his biggest failure: "The game offered perfect multiplayer for hardcore players. In fact, they're still playing it. But the more casual gamers, and other people who actually have money, found playing next to impossible." This hints at a commercial motivation, and not the quality of the game itself.


  • Quake III: Arena presents some of the heroes from previous Id games as playable skins, including the Space Marine from DOOM, the marine from Quake, and a few of the different marines from Quake II. All of these models and skins have both male and female counterparts, and different color variations.
  • The game contains a reference to a popular online comic called User Friendly (www.userfriendly.org). When playing on q3dm19, pick up the fly power-up from the top of the level and fly all the way down until you’re below the final platform. Look up at the central floor and you’ll see an image of the Dust Puppy, as featured in the comic.
  • While this game was in development, it was referred to as Trinity. This was an obvious reference that it was using the third and possibly final Quake engine.
  • Some maps in Quake III: Arena include a wall decoration, that is actually The Icon of Sin, the final boss of id Software's Doom II: Hell on Earth.
  • On the map q3dm15, the severed head of John Carmack can be found lying in a pool of blood.

References to the game

The game appears in the fifth episode of the first season of the US HBO TV series Six Feet Under. The character Claire is shown playing it, doing rail shots with the quad damage activated.


50,000 copies of the game were sold within the first 3 days of its release.

Source code release

On August 19th, 2005, the full (GPL'd) source code to the game was released.

Tech demo

id Software released a technology demo of the game, called Q3Test, in early 1999. In the following five days, 2 million internet games were started worldwide. That works out to around 4 games every second.


  • GameSpy
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 03/2000 - Best Graphics in 1999
  • Power Play
    • Issue 02/2000 – Best Graphics in 1999

Information also contributed by Chris Martin, Cochonou, Jason Musgrave, JubalHarshaw, Lord FlatHead, leileilol, lethal guitar, Medicine Man, Paul Budd, Sciere, Scott Monster, Tibes80 and Xoleras

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Related Sites +

  • Bill Brown - Music Composer (cinematics)
    Listen to streaming and downloadable MP3 music tracks from this title at the composer's official site.
  • PlanetQuake
    PlanetQuake was one of the first sites featuring news and file about Quake 1, and it is now probably the biggest Quake series related site. If you can't find what you want there, you probably won't find it elsewhere.
  • Quake III Forever
    Play Quake III in your browser (Shockwave needed), courtesy of Necromanthus.
  • Quake III: Arena
    Official page on id Software's website
  • Telefragged
    A very huge site dedicated to the first person shooter games, particularly focused on the Quake series.
  • The Final Hours of Quake III Arena
    GameSpot writes about the end of Q3A development in their "Behind the Games" series.
  • Wikipedia: Quake III: Arena
    Information about Quake III: Arena at Wikipedia

Identifiers +


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by DarkTalon.

Macintosh added by Corn Popper. Windows Apps added by Kam1Kaz3NL77. Dreamcast added by Adam Baratz.

Additional contributors: Cochonou, Istari, Eric Barbara, Adam Baratz, Unicorn Lynx, AdminBB, Sciere, Alaka, leilei, DreinIX, Patrick Bregger, Titan10, FatherJack.

Game added January 2nd, 2000. Last modified February 27th, 2023.