Threewave, the classic capture the flag mod for the original Quake, is back after 26 years. Bethesda announced it today (opens in a new tab) that nine levels from the original Threewave CTF mod, along with the grappling hook, special runes and other enhancements, have been brought back to life and added for free to the Quake remaster on Steam.
It’s hard to imagine now, but when Quake was originally released, it was very bare bones. Wood wave (opens in a new tab) was one of the first major mods to address the game’s shortcomings: developed by Zoid Kirsch, it was pretty basic in itself at first, but it offered the excitement of goal-oriented team play and, perhaps more importantly, a grappling hook that changed everything.
“Over the course of many updates, and eventually a QuakeWorld version, the Threewave CTF would continue [to] making Capture the Flag a household name in multiplayer game modes, and even spawning websites exclusively covering Capture the Flag modes in games,” Bethesda said. “Threewave CTF will be released officially as part of Quake 2, and Quake 3- version of the mod would bring in new flag-based game modes and maps that would later make their way into Quake Live. Quake multiplayer and Threewave CTF have always been intertwined, and now the mod that started it all is now available for free in the enhanced Quake re-release.”
This version of Threewave has an improved flag status display (which is almost disappointing – you can’t capture the enemy’s flag unless yours is in the base, and half the fun in old-school CTF is running around trying to figure out where it went so you can craft the cloak while enemy players chase you like a pack of pissed off bloodhounds), team scoreboard and interface. The maps have also been adapted to provide better light and fog effects. Four new runes will spawn randomly at the start of each match, offering improved damage resistance, damage output, and health regeneration to whoever is lucky enough to carry them. Runes, like flags, will drop on death and can be picked up by other players, so even if someone beats you to it, you can still beat them for it.
The grappling hook is where the real magic is. You can use it to turn yourself into a virtual tower by grappling into a wall and then switching weapons – pick a good spot and you’ll drive enemy players madder than hell as they try to figure out who’s shooting them. You can also use it to grapple against other players, dealing a constant stream of damage (and exposing yourself to payback damage from your target, your mind), and with practice you can even use it to jump around the map, move you with far greater speed and agility than normal.
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Nostalgia is the big driver here, but even if you don’t have history with it, Threewave stands on its own merits as a legitimately good multiplayer mod. It’s simple, direct and accessible, but surprisingly deep too – a great way to scratch that team-based action itch without having to spend hours learning all the intricate maps and systems.
The Threewave CTF comeback was announced as part of QuakeCon 2022 (opens in a new tab), which is live now and runs until August 20. It’s included in the fourth and latest update for Quake, which is live now and should be installed automatically the next time you launch the game. To get into the action, start an online multiplayer game, enter the match browser and look for CTF matches. That’s it – have fun!