Quake III: Arena

aka: Q3, Q3A, Quake 3, Quake Arena, Quake III: Arena (Elite Edition)
Moby ID: 649
Windows Specs
Note: We may earn an affiliate commission on purchases made via eBay or Amazon links (prices updated 2/25 6:01 AM )
Add-on (official) Conversion (official) Included in

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 II, 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

Groups +




See any errors or missing info for this game?

You can submit a correction, contribute trivia, add to a game group, add a related site or alternate title.

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 ]



Average score: 88% (based on 70 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 259 ratings with 12 reviews)

A worthy successor to the original Quake fragfest

The Good
While it features virtually no story, however the main focus of the game was to make up for Quake 2's slow multiplayer which alienated most Quake players. This is not to say bots in single-player are not challenging... just that this game really shines in online or LAN multiplayer. Its deathmatch experience is the next best thing since Doom and Quake. Extremely fast gameplay, intense action, balanced weapons. expert level design, beautiful models and Carmack's once again unbelievably good graphics engine were the hallmarks of its resounding success. The only game that could slow the Quake frenzy was Counter-Strike.

The Bad
The single player part was probably its weakest part, however I found the bots to be quite entertaining on their own. A worthy substitute when fragging offline. Some opponents in certain stages were probably more lethal than their skill level should allow.

The Bottom Line
Speed, Power and Adrenaline. One of the best multiplayer experiences ever. An incredibly powerful and modable graphics engine that stood the test of time and was used even as recently as 2003.

Windows · by Silverblade (1382) · 2004

One hell-raising experience

The Good
The level detail is amazing, theres been a lot of thought about the design also , you will hardly ever find a plain wall which doesnt have a structural support to pop out from and blow your enemy away.

The Bad
The hard to use controls on the gamepad. Yeah i know your supposed to use a mouse but if you compare this game to unreal then you will find that it is actually easier to use the pad rather than the mouse. This is mainly because unreal T has a 'auto aim' to some degree where as quake III arena doesnt.

The Bottom Line
Very fast very hard, amazing multiplayer, state of the art graphics engine (todate ne way) wicked lighting effects.

Dreamcast · by Lee Redfern (21) · 2001

Fried blood

The Good
The concept was clever. I admired Id's boldness in making a multiplayer-only game. Previous games in the Quake series had been criticised for their bland single-player experience, and it was brave of Id to damn the torpedoes and put their sterling silver in one basket. Especially here in the UK, where we lagged behind the Americans by a couple of years; broadband has only recently become the mainstream.

It was doubly bold of Id to ignore the obvious gap in the market for a single-player Quake III, given that Quake II had sold well and that the obvious competition - Unreal - was also going the multiplayer-only route. So, three cheers to Id for being bold. It worked, too. Quake III was a substantial hit that spawned a little galaxy of spin-offs. It appealed to me as much as black pudding, but I admired it nonetheless.

But what about the game itself? Quake III is very attractive. It follows the same visual path as Quake II, in that it is colourful and cartoonish. There was a lot of hype at the time about curved arches and glowing lights etc, and although it is not the technical breakthrough of its predecessors, the visual style hasn't really dated today.

The intro movie was short but fantastic. If only the Doom film had been done in the same style.

The Bad
I can think of few more unpleasant things than teenagers. I certainly don't want to spend time playing computer games with them. With this in mind I am uninterested in Quake III's multiplayer game. I was similarly uninterested in Unreal: Tournament as a multiplayer title, but I enjoyed it immensely because it looked fantastic and the computer opponents were enjoyable. They ranged from stupid cannon fodder to absolute fiends, but they seemed alive. Sometimes I felt that I could even put down my weapon and negotiate with them. The sniper rifle was wonderful. I loved to shoot off their heads.

Quake III reminded me of another multiplayer-only title, X-Wing Vs TIE Fighter. In the latter game the AI was duff, in that it was entirely robotic. The enemy spacecraft were uniformly perfect shots and were only there to fill out the numbers. They did not miss. They could, superhumanly, tell where you were pointing your crosshairs and where you were going. They could track you and lead and nail you like the fire control software in an F-14 jet fighter. Six targets at once, from a range of two hundred miles. I felt as if I was the navigator of a Russian bomber, contemplating the incoming missiles, unable to dodge or bail out. It was not pleasant.

Quake III is not nearly as bad as all that, but the AI is nonetheless too obviously computerised, in the sense that it is a perfect shot that has been degraded with some clever code. It quickly becomes impossible to suspend disbelief and imagine that you are playing against another person. This can be alleviated by lowering the difficulty level, but that smacks of failure.

Some people will argue that I am simply a very poor gamesplayer, and that I am old and have lost my touch. This is the kind of argument a teenager might use, and it is one of the reasons why I have come to detest teenagers. It is a conservative argument. An argument that stems from a desire not to lose face in front of one's peers by admitting weakness. It is the kind of argument that ends up with a drunken child trying to walk along a wall, and falling off and breaking his neck.

Unreal: Tournament is the more complex game; there are far more modes of play and you can customise the environment and the effects that weapons have upon it. I assume that there are mods and patches to allow this in Quake III as well, but by 1999 I had begun to grow past the age of caring and I care less in 2006.

The Bottom Line
Most reviews compared Quake III with Unreal: Tournament, and so did mine. There were partisans on both sides, all of seven years ago. The general consensus amongst teenage gamesplayers who I detest was that Quake III was a manly game for manly men, whereas Unreal: Tournament was a limp-wristed game for men who were not manly.

Nonetheless I prefer the latter game. Quake III is more obviously a multi-player engine with bare support for single-play, whereas Unreal: Tournament had more thought put into the single-player experience. Quake III might well be the bee's knees as a multiplayer game. As a single-player game I quickly became bored with it.

Windows · by Ashley Pomeroy (225) · 2006

[ View all 12 player reviews ]


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


MobyPro Early Access

Upgrade to MobyPro to view research rankings!

Related Games

Quake III: Gold
Released 2001 on Windows, Macintosh
Released 1996 on Linux, DOS, Windows...
Quake III: Team Arena
Released 2000 on Windows
Quake II
Released 1997 on Windows, Linux, 1999 on PlayStation...
Quake II
Released 2023 on Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One...
Ultimate Quake
Released 2001 on Windows
Quake Live
Released 2010 on Browser, Windows
Quake: Champions
Released 2017 on Windows, 2022 on Windows Apps
Quake Minus One
Released 1985 on Commodore 64

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.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 649
  • [ Please login / register to view all identifiers ]


Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

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, Patrick Bregger, Titan10, FatherJack.

Game added January 2, 2000. Last modified February 23, 2024.