The Tactics and Psychology of Quake 2 by Theros

The Tactics and Psychology of Quake 2, written by Theros as an informational guide on how to better play Quake 2 for back in the day.  I found it interesting how Theros pushes his own particular psychological approach to Quake 2 as what’s best for the objective player.  Another gem recovered from the internet archive:


Well, this is basically an informational guide on how to better play Quake 2 in Deathmatch mode for new to novice players. I have seen many other FAQ’s and strategy guides out there but they tend to only brush the surface of the actual strategy and concentrate more on weapon rating and control setup. In this guide, however, I hope to cover those pieces and go much more in-depth on player movement and predicting how and where an opponent will go. I also wanted to keep this as a single page resource so it is not cut up by separate html’s and therefore much more linear. Just so this is clear and out in the open- I am a Quake loser, I play it a lot and I really enjoy it, I will go into everything that I think is important in the game even though some of these topics may seem obscure, useless or way to deep to be going into for just a game. What can I say, to each his own.

-Control Setup
The first, and most basic topic you have to cover when talking about Q2 (or any first person shooter for that matter) is how you control your character in the game. I would like to start off by dispelling any rumors out there- there is no “perfect” controller. Many players who are mid range in skill often believe that there is some setup or config a better Quaker is using to beat them. I personally have used almost every gaming device out there (The Cyber Man, Cyber Man 2, Cyber Puck, Space Orb 360, various game pads, various tactical feedback controllers and a few VR head tracking sets such as the Virtual IO glasses and VR Maxx) and can honestly say that the best setup I have ever used is still the good old mouse/trackball and keyboard. Your immediate reaction to this would be- how can a decent mouse and a good keyboard be a better controller than a $100-$900 rig? The answer to this is that of all the above input devices the only one that is both a digital device and an analog device is the mouse/keyboard combo. This allows a player to do digital options (actions that are either on or off) such as fire, strife and jump without losing the accuracy and control of analogue functions such as turning, looking around and aiming. If you don’t use this style now, switch to it and keep practicing it. After the initial steep learning curve you will play better than you could any other way, no questions asked.       Ok, with that out of the way you now should need to know how to set up your mouse and keyboard config. The basic concept here is to be looking with the mouse and controlling your lateral (strafing) movement with the keyboard. This simple idea allows you to sidestep around a target while shooting inward at them and thus making yourself a much harder target. To give you an idea of a basic config, here is mine Keyboard (on the numeric pad)

up – forward
down – back
left – strife left
right – strife right
5 – duck
home – previous weapon
pgup – next weapon
ins – previous item
del – next item
enter – use item
/ – Super Shot Gun
* – Rail Gun
– – Rocket Launcher

Mouse (on mid sensitivity)- looks/aims
button 1 – fire
button 2 – jump

autorun – on
field of view (FOV) -120

The other most common method would be the ASD style where the player uses the W,A,S,D and X keys to control movement (evolved from the control for the original Descent). Either of these styles (or one of your own) is fine as long as it is comfortable and the keys are close together so you can quickly hit them. The final command that I use is the FOV or field of view setting. The default FOV of your player in the game is 90 degrees, although this is the most natural for looking through standard PC monitor into the gaming world you are really only seeing a fraction of what is going on around you. I use the setting at 120 (type FOV 120 in the console) simply because it gives me the most information on what is going on around me without distorting the world to the point at which it is not playable (try FOV 360 to see what I mean). Your first reaction to this is that the game is unnaturally distorted, and it is (it may remind you of Wolfeinstein 3D nausea syndrome). You may also be further disoriented to find that you can no longer see which weapon you are equipping and that it has been replaced by a small icon. Although at first dizzying and annoying this setup is superior than the standard FOV 90 setting, you get used to it and when you do you will be a better player.
their are also a few diehard snipers/campers out there that will insist that you should bind a key to FOV 45 or so for picking people off from far distances. I have tried this many times and I always come to the same conclusion- it just isn’t worth it. The longest distances you will have to shoot in any level can still be handled with normal (or 120) vision. Using a FOV 45 also means that to shoot someone you will have to be standing still (bad) you can easily be blind sided by an opponent (bad) its easy to lose a target if they get off screen (bad) and if you are blind sided you would have to switch back to your normal FOV before you could effectively fight back (very bad). In the end, if you are convinced that it is a good thing to have a “sniper mode” in your config, go for it. But if you want my opinion on it, its just not that effective.

(Note: Occasionally you may enter a server where you can not use a non FOV 90 setting. This is done by some system ops to prevent camping and balance play.)

(Note2: their are certain keys that you can not bind in the setup such as the wave0-3 which you can set up in the :\quake2\baseq2\config.cfg with any text editor. You can get mine here but make sure to back yours up if you alter it)

-Basic Strategy
Ok, now we are past the point where you have set up how you physically input movement your character, you now need to know how to move in an actual game. Here are some guidelines: Never stop moving, do not duck, never stop moving, always know where you are going, once you have a target don’t change targets and finally, never stop moving.

The first one that I stress is the “never stop moving” thing. It always amazes me how, in the middle of a melee, someone will just stop and try to lock me up and kill me. As soon as you stop you are going to get hit, sometimes this is ok if you are packed with health/armor and the attacker is using the blaster but if its a rail gun fight and you just stop….its not pretty (unless your the shooter) So, even if you are waiting for a lift and you don’t see anyone you should still keep strafing a little bit to avoid a direct hit or a surprise shot. Next up we have “don’t duck”. Ducking is a great feature and it adds a lot to the play in Q2 but your standard attack should not consist of running up to someone, ducking and firing. Although the crouch does drastically lower your hitable area it slows you down to a walk. You should only really use the duck if you are dodging a single shot and then moving again or if you are doing an actual pattern such as the Duck & Jump.

The next rule is more of a whole concept than a single guide or warning. In general you need to know the level to control it. You simply can’t do your best on a deathmatch map if you are trying to play and explore it at the same time. The easiest way to fix this is to play Q2 through all the way (with no cheats) in single player or to play a deathmatch game alone. This will give you a good idea of how the map is laid out and where to go when, after this you can go on to set up your own path. A Q2 path is basically a trail you run on a specific map over and over again, you probably do this a little already whether you know it or not. The concept of the path is to go through a map in a specific way so that you gain the most health/armor/guns then get the most kills, its basically how you as a player can most efficiently play a level. It is also important to note that a players path should change depending on the number of players and type of game.

The final bit of advice I can give you is to pick a target and chase him/her until they are fragged. It is very easy to arrive in a room where 5+ players are beating the crap out of each other and get overwhelmed as to which one you should attack. What usually happens is that you do a little bit of damage to each of them, you end up dead without killing any of em, and someone else gets the kills. Basically pick a person and fire at them until they are dead. This also stands true for when you are chasing someone and another player cuts in between you and your target and you go after them (this is known as a dump), the same thing happens as above. The first guy gets away and you may get killed by the new (potentially full health) opponent. I also need the stress the fact of not throwing a life away, it is very tempting to go after one more opponent when your health is at 3 and you have 20 rail gun cylinders left, but that would actually be the best time to run for some health/armor and get a few more frags instead of eating it right there and having to find the gun and ammo again.

The final basic tip I can give is for effectively changing weapons. Most Q2ers out there switch weapons by using either the weapon advance or a shortcut key. The problem with the weapon advance is that you are a sitting duck while you are fumbling for a gun due to the delay in weapon change. Because of this I have learned to use the item advance/item previous keys (on my config Ins and Del with Enter set for use) to switch to the weapon I want then equip it. The advantage of this is that during this time you still have the original gun and can fight back if you are ambushed.

– Advanced Moves
Now we come to advance strategy and tactics. This section will go through standard tactics for melee and into more advanced sequence moves. The first concept to touch on is the basic melee. This is when two opponents are rotating around each other trying to get a shot. This is extremely common to see in a 1on1 confrontation in that circle strafing is the best way to avoid getting hit. The main goal should be to lead an opponent with your weapon when you are both circling. The amount of lead, or distance you aim in front of an opponent, is determined by the speed at which you are moving, the speed at which the target is moving and the weapon you are using. The main goal of the melee is to get a clean shot. The easiest way to do this is to cut into your opponents circle path and blind side them. Doing this will allow you to get a clean shot at a player while they are moving sideways toward you without having to lead them.

The next move I use quite often against novice players and it is known as the angle cut. The angle cut is mostly used against an opponent who is stationary or only moving a little, and is shooting at you. The premise of the move is to be moving towards them and working your way around behind them while shooting inward at them. This method is highly effective against novices due to the fact that you are moving sideways, getting closer and eventually moving past them and blind siding them (works really well with Sshotgun).

One thing that also has to be mentioned is the counter spin. When you are in a melee with an opponent, spinning around each other the counter spin will become useful. The counter helps you to be less predictable and thus you will have a lower chance of being hit. The trick is knowing when to change directions. The best time to use a counter is when you are being led by an opponent or if an opponent is lining you up to cross in font of him so they can use the rail gun or rocket launcher. Countering before you are in an opponents crosshair in these situations will help you to link the counter into a move such as an angle cut and to avoid being hit. The times at which you do not want to change direction is when you are directly lined up by your enemy. This is due to the fact that when you do counter you will come to a stop before you start moving in the opposite direction. This would be a perfect time for an enemy to gut you with a rail gun so you have to be careful.

Now we are up to The Duck and Jump. The duck and jump is one of the moves where the duck may allow you to survive when cornered by an opponent that has a better weapon than you. The basic idea is that when you find yourself running toward an opponent that is blocking a corridor that is not wide enough to pass him, you perform the Duck and Jump. The goal here is to get past the blocker without dying. The ideal way this should work is to rush the opponent until you are against them then duck. Now that you are on the floor the natural reaction of the opponent would be to duck and shoot you. As soon as you see the opponent move to duck you stand and jump over them. I find myself using this at lease once every other level when I have no weapon and a person firing on me is equipped with a super shot gun, rail gun, or missile launcher.

The way to counter the DaJ is simply not to duck. This leaves the person trying to pull the DaJ crouched there not moving and an easy to hit stationary target. Just aim down and fire. This does occasionally happen to me (about %25 of the time depending of the class of players) and your only hope then is to turn and run or attempt it again. If the person counters it however, you are most likely made and will not get out alive.

Another point to touch on in single player (and used in multiplier) are Close Range Kills, or any kill that occurs when you are actually in contact with an opponent or at an extremely close range. The 2 keys to CRKs are knowing where your weapon will fire from (if you are set for right, left or center handed) and quick reflexes. The CRK can only be performed with the Sshot gun, rail gun, missile launcher and grenade launcher. The concept to keep in mind is where your gun fires. My weapon setup is set for right handed so when I am in a CRK situation I strife to the left of an opponent and fire when they are right on the edge of my screen. The strife is also a much more accurate move to adjust your lateral aim at mid or close range with weapons such as the rail gun. When your mouse is set on a high enough sensitivity to effectively turn you it becomes slightly too sensitive to lead an opponent as compared to the ease at which you can keep your aim straight ahead and strife your opponent into your crosshair. Getting back to CRK tactics, the most effective way to know where your Close Range “sweet spot” is to practice. The below chart is a basic guide to where your CRK area is for which setting you are on (right, left, center).

The final single player point to touch on is the popular Rocket Jump. The Rocket Jump is most easily performed with the rocket launcher but can also be performed (although not recommended) with the grenade launcher and the BFG. Basically you just aim the Rocket Launcher straight down jump and fire. The down side is you will take 40- 50 points of damage if you are unarmored. The point of the rocket jump is to propel you to places that you would not normally be able to get to due to the fact that the Rjump will get you about twice as high as a normal jump. The Rocket Jump is most commonly used by snipers (campers) to get on top of door frames etc. so they can surprise opponents and hopefully kill them before they have time to realize where the shot came from. I rarely use the Rjump but it can come in useful, a little practice to get the timing down correctly is all you need to really master it. (Note: If you have a lot of armor and health or the invulnerability and get a quad damage rocket jumps can take you well over a level, or crush you on the ceiling of the map so be careful)

This section details a few basic tactics that would be used in a 2 on 1 or 1 on 2 situations. The first set up we will cover is a 2 on 1 melee. The basic goal in this melee scenario is for one player to contain or occupy the target while the other try’s to set up a clear shot. The below chart shows 2 teammates (A and B) working against a target (C). Player A is working to cut off the targets strafing and break up his timing while also preventing him from escaping. Player B is working to stay out of the targets FOV and to get a clean shot of the opponent C while he is moving directly away from him. Player B should also keep in mind the weapon type he is using an any potential danger it is for his team mates. He would want to make sure that if he shot a rail gun cylinder through the target it would not also kill his team mate or that he would be out of any missile blast radius, for example. The container A should also know where his team mate is and make an effort not to cross in between the target and B which could block a shot or cause him to be accidentally killed.

The next situation we should go through is 1 on 2 or a multiple player Free For All battle. The key to going up against multiple targets is simple- you must keep both of them on screen at all times. Keeping both opponents on screen not only prevents one of them from blind siding you but also tends to cause them to get in the way of each other and block each others shots. Doing this allows you to more effectively kill one and then have a more even 1 on 1 fight (or if you are really good you can kill em both with a single rail gun shot Smiley.

Both of the above situations (1 on 2 and 2 on 1) work basically the same with more players, if you are in a 1 on 3 situation you want to try and keep at least 2 on screen at all times, or potentially run to try and find backup or a better position. In a 3 on 1 situation you will basically have the same positions, one player would be the container, one would be the shooter and the other would be an alternate attempting to get a clean shot or replace the position of a fallen team mate.

-Capture The Flag
Well.. First off, it is important to note that while all of the guides/rules in The TaPofQ2 still hold true in a CTF game it is important to note that the goal (and therefore the over all strategy) are slightly different. I am assuming that anyone reading this understand the basic rules of a Q2 game (where which flag needs to be when to score and such)and has had some experience in it.

-Weapon Usage
The first thing to cover again is the basic control setup. The only major difference in weapons between DM and CTF is the addition of the Grappling hook which gained its fame from an early Quake1 mod. This is a great camping tool due to the fact that you can grapple somewhere then switch weapons and the grapple will stay. The problem with this is to unattached yourself you need to switch back to the grapple and use it. As you have probably already guessed, this leaves you pretty much as a sitting target. It can, however, be an effective way to guard a flag if you place yourself correctly. Anyway, to effectively use this tool you will need to have it bound to a key so you can quickly switch between it and a weapon. To do this you can either manually do it in the console each time you start a game using the bind x “weaplast; use grapple” or add this line to your config. This command will make you equip the grapple then when it is hit again you will re-equip your last gun. You should also note that the config file you edit is NOT the :\quake2\baseq2\config.cfg but the :\quake2\ctf\config.cfg. This allows you to replace a key normally bound to a weapon with the grapple and not effect your deathmatch config.

As far as the actual usage of the grapple goes, I usually reserve it for when I need to get an item or am making a run for it due to the fact that when it connects it quickly pulls you to that point. Just remember that you have to switch to the grapple, aim, fire, wait for it to connect and then switch back to your weapon so I wouldn’t recommend using it in the middle of a melee.

-Runes (Techs)
Runes are another big part of the CTF game and can drastically alter your playing and the course of a game (They also originated from a very popular Q1 mod). I personally think they are an ok addition but occasionally can tilt the tables of play a little too far. You should also note that their are two types of Runes, offensive and defensive, all four of which are listed below. Up until just recently (and I unfortunately wrote this in 2.0) I was under the impression that you could not drop a rune once you had acquired it. This however is not accurate- using the bind x “drop tech” command you can drop a rune once you have picked it up.

(Note: Although you can drop a rune you can not pick up that same one again. For example: If you dropped a Speed Rune you could not pick that same tech up but you could get another Speed Rune.)

Power Rune: This is the greatest offensive Rune to have and usually the hardest to get away from someone. The power Rune basically doubles your shot power with no time limit. It is best used as a defensive tool to guard your flag along with basically any weapon. Remember that all damage is doubled so you will want to be careful not to CRK with an explosive weapon.

(Note: When you acquire the Quad with this Rune you will do 8x damage! You will also notice the sound changes from the normal quad shot sound to an even more deadly louder blast sound. Aside from that their will be no other tells that an opponent is quaded and powered.)

Speed Rune:  The Speed Rune is the second of the offensive Runes. The speed is a pretty strait forward Rune that simply doubles the fire rate of all weapons when you hold the fire key down. This is also very effectively used with the quad but remember that as your fire rate is doubled so is your ammo consumption rate. With this Rune you can burn through shells and machine gun/mini gun bullets before you know it so keep an eye on your ammo.

Regeneration Rune:  On the flip side here we have the first of the defensive Runes. Regeneration will basically raise you health by increments of 5 about every second until it hits 150. The regen also raises your armor but only if you already have some armor. For example, if you are running around with 0 armor and then you pick up an armor shard you will then begin to gain armor at increments of 5 until it hits 150.

Shield Rune:  The shield is probably my least favorite Rune so I tend to avoid it. The shield will basically act as a sort of undamagable armor that will always prevent a certain amount of damage. Its an ok tool but as I said, I usually stay away from it because of the fact that you can only pick up one Rune until you die and this ones effect isn’t exactly as visible as the others.

I will go back into the best positions for these Runes to be used in the next section.

-CTF Strategy
As I said earlier, the strategy in CTF is pretty different. The most basic concept of ctf is to keep your flag secure, capture the opponents, and return it to your base. The key point to remember is that scoring a flag surpasses in value your own life or any single kill (unless it is your opponents flag carrier). Before we go any deeper into the CTF strategies I first have to make clear that this part of the guide is more designed for hard core CTF clans in actual 4v4 or 5v5 battles where each clan member has an organized job and goal in each game. The reason for this is that while I have played some great games where I just dropped into a server and went for it, they can get extremely aggravating without any plan or organization. Many times I will get the flag and come back to base to find all of the people on my team standing around with our flag gone and no one out looking for it, I have also been in the situation where the flag carrier wouldn’t return the flag for one reason or another or the ever popular mismatched teams where you start on the red team with 3 players and the blue has 10. My point is- to really experience a good fair and tactical CTF game you need to be organized with a clan or group of some kind.

With that behind us I will start in on the first rule of a clan CTF encounter, the pre game plan. It is important that before each game you decide on who is going to play offense and who will be on defense or devise some sort of rotation plan using shortcut message keys so you aren’t just stumbling around in the match. Whatever you decided it is important that you use your teams advantages to their maximum potential. If you have someone who is great at hunting people down put them on defense or if you have a team mate who is excellent at dodging and getting out of hot situations put them on offense. Just remember not to put someone on your team in a position that they hate. To effectively play CTF you need to move as a single team with everyone at their best. If someone doesn’t like where they are they will not play it at their best and your team will be at a disadvantage.

Using a players to their best potential also includes those players selecting to use the right Rune for their assignment (chart above). All players defending the flag should opt to use offensive Runes (the Power Rune or the Speed Rune). I know it sounds odd for a defensive player to want to use an offensive Rune but it isn’t when you think about it. The main goal of the defender will be to guard their flag or return it if it does get taken. Although staying alive is important the objective of these players is to kill their targets. Therefore the optimal Rune would be one that would help them accomplish this task as fast as possible. Like wise, all offensive team members (those going after the opponents flag) would want to use defensive Runes (the Regeneration Rune or the Shield Rune). It is important to remember that the main goal of these players is not to get into melee situations but to penetrate the opponents base and acquire the flag so it can be returned to your base as quickly as possible. While this may involve killing opponents you should never go after a target but rather opt to return your flag. Remember the flag return is more important than frags or chasing down a specific target.

Next we need to cover actual defensive and offensive plans and rolls. Within each of the two CTF clans should be the two groups listed above, and offensive Lance and a defensive Lance (the term actually evolved out of the old Battletech games). The defensive Lance or groups main goal is to defend the flag (duh). The best way to do this is to have one primary blocker who’s main job is to keep in between an attempting stealer and the flag and to CRK. The secondary blockers main goal is to keep his distance (camp basically) and fire at any opponent that crosses over the flag. The next defensive part comes into play when someone eventually captures your flag. There are basically two things you can do once your flag has been captured, either do a full out assault where all defensive players go after the flag or a more mixed attack where one player will go after the flag taker and the other will hold back at the base to guard it when it is returned. This concept is important to remember, many times I have been run down by the 3 guys that were chasing me only to respawn right near the flag they just returned so I could get it again and be gone before anyone on the opposing team could get back to guard.

Now we are to the offensive portion of the CTF game. The offensive Lance should look for the Respawn Rune and the Shield Rune due to the fact that their main goal will be to avoid direct confrontation, slip in, get the flag and get out. After one of people on the two man lance gets the flag the second will then be running escort. The job of the escort is to stay in between your teammate with the flag and any chasing opponent. This is also the best time for them to use any quad or get a power Rune to draw any opposition away from flag carrier. The person with the flag should always keep moving toward base or away from and potential danger. You will probably want to have the grapple equipped to quickly pull you through water or out of a bad situation. Just remember that when you use the grapple people can just aim for where it hits and wait for you to get there so be careful. Basically, as I said above, you will want to use it to just pull through a path slightly faster than you could run it. You should also note that it is usually best for the offensive lance to work together at the same time to get the flag so if one of them goes down the other can still get the target flag. Its better to regroup and get the flag then it is to go in under armored/weapond/runed/teamed and get killed.

It is also necessary to have keys bound to keep up communication in your team. It is best to discuss exactly what phrases you will bind and what they mean but you will basically want to have signals to protect the flag carrier, find and return the team flag, guard the base and protect the flag carrier. These are basic commands that allow you to keep in communication with your team. However, remember that this allows the opposing team to see what is going on as well so use them sparingly. The best way to keep in sync with your team is to be aware of what is going on around you and the notices Q2 gives you. If “your team mate” captures the blue flag! flashes on screen you should have a plan as to where you should be and what you should be doing. Again, just keep your eyes open.

This section is devoted to understanding and knowing where an opponent will be when. While much of this has to do with instinct and practice a large portion of it can be understood by how people act in a given situation. The other part of the psychology of Quake2 is understanding where an opponent will expect you to be and how to fake them out.

-Types of Players
At the base of all Q2ers can be found 2 basic player types, which are Aggressive and Passive. The Aggressive player can quickly be spotted by constantly trying to get as close to you as possible and often times can be seen running into a battle with no weapon, low ammo and low health/armor. On the flip side of this tendency is the less seen Passive player. The main habit you will spot in a passive player is their tendency to constantly run away, never going into a fight without maxed out health armor and basically not fighting unless they are sure they will win and camping. The best way to play is to be a mix of the two styles, in short you need to be aggressive but know when to run and not walk into traps. Another tactic to remember is to vary your playing style. When you are feeling lucky dive into a fight and when you aren’t run away. Mixing it up makes it that much harder for an experienced opponent to know what you are going to do next.

This is definitely a topic we need to go into due to the fact that in a free for all game their will almost always be at least one camper and at least one person whining about said camper. First off, camping is not “cheating”, I would tend to call it cheap, but it is a legal tactic in Q2. The second, and most important fact is that a really good Quake 2 player won’t camp and will always beat a camper in a FFA game. Camping is an ok strategy when you think about it, you are getting kills by hitting someone when they are vulnerable and you are keeping yourself in a safe position. It is also true that a good campers death to kill ratio will usually be a little better than a normal style player. The problem with camping is that you simply cant get enough kills standing in one spot waiting for people to come to you than you can going around getting items and hunting people down (some exceptions being in 40+ FFA games). Despite any argument you have the best players (in Q1 and Q2) simply won’t use camping as their basic strategy in playing. The other problem with camping is that it isn’t really fun, it is a good way to get attention due to the fact that there will always be people bitching about camping in a game and if they are of average skill they wont be able to do anything about a camper. However, when it comes down to actually playing Q2 I find it much more enjoyable to go around and having an actual melee with another good player, that is just me though. I have to say that I personally like campers, they are stationary so they make good targets, they don’t really circulate through a level so they don’t take weapons/items and they are the most fun to kill because they think that they are safe in their camping position, and finally they are extremely predictable. No matter how many times you kill an avid camper they will almost always go back to the same camping ground as soon as they respawn. It has also been my experience that unlike the Quake 1 episodes, which had numerous virtually untouchable camping places, none of the Q2 maps (pending point release) have an area that is totally protected.

-Understanding Where a Player Will Go (and how to abuse it)
This part of the guide is devoted to the most common reaction an opponent will have to being surprised, chased or cornered. The first thing to understand about a novice player is that they will not tend to think ahead if they are being pursued or fired at and simply will attempt to get as far away from their current position as possible. This allows a more experienced player to be able to cut his target off due to the fact that he knows where his opponent is going. For example, if a novice target goes around a barricade of some kind he will most likely come out on the other side because he will assume that the person chasing him is still directly behind him. This would be a perfect time for the more experienced chaser to move around the barricade and cut him off. I usually try to reverse my direction as much as possible when being pursued so that a chaser will either lose me or find another target. Another overlooked tendency is for anyone being chased to go strait for an item. Any time you chase someone into a room with an item in it you can basically train the rail gun/missile launcher/grenade launcher over the item and wait for the target to walk right into it.

The final, and ultimate psychological point is when you are so in control of a level that even a good player will begin to suck. When you begin to pimp a level by 25+ frags most players will pretty much give up and begin attacking you with the blaster or just running up to you and using one of the wave commands (when you hit H,J,K and L and do obscene gestures) or doing other half hearted attacks. This is the first sign that you have broken a player. If an opponent has tried all of his tricks (melee attacks, camping and then hiding) and you have devastated them at each one it becomes easier for them to just give up and be able to say “he won because I was messing around” or “I wasn’t really trying” then for them to do their best and get beaten. Its human nature and a standard reaction to the situation. After a few levels of this they will begin getting pissed off, this is usually when the swearing and accusations start. You will get accused of cheating in some way, camping, or being some sort of bot. I personally find it quite flattering… After this they will usually drop from the server (if they do this before they swear/gesture they are usually over 20 years old). Whatever happens the key to remember here that it is a game, some people are naturally better at it and have or are willing to spend more time playing Quake2 (or any game for that matter) than others. If your a college student or have a busy job you simply wont be as good due to the limited time you have to play as compared to a jr. high school student or someone who has hours to burn each day. It can get annoying but if there is one thing I have learned is that there is always someone better and if you aren’t having fun switch servers or simply go do something else. Again, its just a game.


Energy Armor:  Energy armor is one of the handiest items out there in that it allows you to have two types of armor running at once. EA is also another one of those things that a lot of people don’t know how to use. First off, when you pick up Energy Armor and you don’t have cells you will not equip it. It will, however be in your inventory, you just have to activate it after you find some cells. The second thing is that if a server has auto use items on (which most do) and you get a second EA the one you have on will go off, you just have to go through you inventory and reactivate it (may be fixed in point release). You also need to keep in mind that EA is based on how many cells you have so I would recommend not using your hyper blaster or BFG if you want to keep it powered up.

Bandoleer:  The Bandoleer can easily be confused with the power armor or vice versa to a novice player. The bandoleer just allows you to carry more ammo.

Mega Health:  Ahh, mega health… These are hidden throughout levels and the good thing is that many players don’t know where they are so they are left to me. Meagas add 100 to your current health (it can be well over 200)

Adrenaline:  Adrenaline is a very effective item, but only if it is used at the right time. Adrenaline allows you to carry more health and puts your health back up to 100 if it is below it. If effectively used Adrens can be like extra lives in deathmatches so they are quite valuable.

Silencer:  I am also a big lover of silencers. Silencers basically make moves such as a CRK and firing guns in general that much easier due to the fact that a target will not know where you are when you fire a weapon. This can be very disorienting to them and allow you an even greater element of surprise.

Quad Damage:  I, like everyone, love quads. There is nothing that is more of an advantage than having hits register at 4x normal (except if you combine it with the invulnerability). However, when many people get a quad they often believe that they are invulnerable and run into situations where they can easily get killed. Always keep an eye on your health because the glowing blue attracts a lot of fire.

Guns to use when quaded (in order of how much ass they kick):
Hyper Blaster
Chain Gun
Machine Gun
SShot Gun
Shot Gun

Guns not to use when under quad:
Rail Gun (the blaster is better when under quad due to fire rate)
Rocket Launcher
Grenade Launcher

Invulnerability:  Invulnerability is another dominating item. Basically if you get this use any weapon and if you see someone with this keep your distance until it starts to flicker out on them then move in for the kill.

Note:  Very rarely you will see someone glowing pink. This means they have the Quad and Invulnerability at the same time….just run fast.


The Blaster:  Although the lowest weapon on the food chain the blaster is still under rated. This gun is most effectively used against the Rail Gun at all ranges.

Counter Tactic – This is the base weapon so few will use it in an all out attack. Counter it with a rapid fire gun or SShot gun.

Shotgun:  Another under rated gun. Although its still not as good as its big brother the Super Shot Gun it can still effectively be used due to its medium speed reload time.

Effective range – CRK to mid.

Counter Tactic – Like the SShotgun this uses a cluster formation of small hits. Keeping your distance is the best tactic although it is more effective at long ranges than the SShot so be careful.

Super Shotgun:  This is one of my favorites, although it has a slow reload time you can hold your ground against any other weapon when this is equipped. Attempt to CRK and corner opponents at ever chance you get.

Effective range – CRK to close only

Counter Tactic – Keeping a large distance between you and the target that has this gun equipped will render it almost useless to the large cluster spread on the gun.

Machine Gun:  An ok weapon for chipping away an opponents health. It doesn’t quickly eat ammo so you can usually continuously fire it with no problem but it is not good at getting kills quickly. Best used with a Quad.

Effective range – close to mid

Counter Tactic – This gun is pretty random at long range so, again, don’t get close.

Chain Gun:  This is a pretty damn cool weapon for mowing down opponents. It quickly eats all ammo so you need to make them all hit. It also has a stopping lag time so plan ahead

Effective range – Although this gun is effective at all ranges I would recommend close to mid only to conserve ammo.

Counter Tactic – Almost all players will stand still and run this gun until it is dry in one singe burst due to how powerful it looks/sounds. What I do is duck behind a box or hide behind a pillar until I hear the {click} that signals they are out of ammo, then walk up to them while they are trying to find a gun and blow the crap out of them Smiley

Grenade Launcher:  Yet another under rated weapon. I find this much more effective than standard grenades due to the fast fire rate and distance. The basic plan with this gun should be to skip the grenade off the ground into an opponent.

Effective range – Close, Mid

Counter Tactic – This thing has a lot of arc so if you are at mid range and the user shoots it at you with the crosshair on you it will go right over your head, I try and get close and duck.

Rocket Launcher:  Although vastly toned down from Q1 this is still an effective gun. This is best to use in a corridor setting where the target will have little dodging area. If you do get caught in a large area melee with it try to shoot low and hit the floor near your target.

Effective range – mid

Counter Tactic – I would recommend a rapid fire gun from long range so you have time to dodge all incoming missiles.

Hyper Blaster:  Another excellent gun. This weapon does eat ammo pretty quick so I would recommend stocking up before using it. This is the ultimate weapon to use in combination with a quad. It is also the recommended weapon for taking out a Rail Gunner. Otherwise I try and use normal melee tactics keeping the crosshair centered on a target at all times.

Effective range – basically all

Counter Tactic – You cant really use any single strategy to counter this gun due to the fact that the user could have over 250 cells or about 20 seconds of continuous fire. Try and work around them with the SShot gun is about all I can say.

Rail Gun:  Ahh the Rail Gun… This is probably my favorite gun do to its single shot kill style. The way to get good with this gun is simply practice. I usually try to keep varying my distance from a target while strafing them into my crosshair.

Effective range – Close or Long

Counter Tactic – Most novice players will hold down the fire button making it easy to know when they are going to fire, in essence they are letting the gun control them instead of waiting for their shot and taking it. Stay at mid range and strafe around em firing in with any rapid fire gun.

BFG:  The BFG (Big Fuckin’ Gun) is definitely a mixed bag. It is best used in a FFA game with a bunch of people in a single room. It becomes pretty useless in team games due to the fact that it isn’t really aimable. It is also the most complex weapon and cant be used effectively if you don’t know how it works.

The first thing to understand is that unlike the average gun the BFG uses a series of damage types instead of a single hit (see hit chart at left). First off, as the green ball of death floats through a level you will notice green beams going out and hitting any player that happens to be in the area (does damage at a rate similar to falling into slime). The next damage type is impact radius. This is for any poor sap who happens to actually get hit by the ball or be in the small blast radius of where it hits (if you get hit by that you are dead unless your invulnerable). The next and final hit is the mysterious (and deadly) Line Of Sight hit (I originally indicated that this was a Field Of Vision effect but the hit will count as long as a line can be drawn from the impact to you to a target and back to the impact point). When the Green ball impacts it basically draws a line from the impact point to the person who fired it to any players. If there is no obstruction blocking any of the points it will do damage to an opponent by how close they are to the impact point of the BFG.

I basically use this gun when there are a bunch of people on screen by spiking the Green ball a few yards in front of me (remember the blast radius can harm you so if it impacts to close to you, you are dead). Although this doesn’t do any beam damage or impact radius damage (usually) it still tends to kill everyone on screen, unless they are at a distace larger than 1000 Quake Units.

Effective range – close to mid

Counter Tactic – This is very simple, when you see a green flash and hear the BFG charge you have about 2 seconds to find something to block the FOV hit (see chart at left). I usually hit a target a few times then hide then hit them a few more as they fire. In short, if you know how it works and what to do you can make the BFG extremely ineffective.

The Grenade:  Quake 2 treats this as more of an item than a gun when your talking about its respawn properties but it is usually available and better then the blaster in hit points. I try and use the grenade as either a mine type thing where I just keep dropping them when I am on rout to another gun or to CRK with them. Actually aiming with them tends to be less productive in that its hard to predict how far they will go and you have to keep moving while you hold the live grenade. It is also important to note that the grenade has a sound tell for throwing. Along with the background clicking noise you will also notice a slightly louder more dragged out click that occurs about once every second. The mine will go off any time (its slightly random) after the 3rd timer click.

Effective range – CRK to close

Counter Tactic – This weapon has sound tells that makes it so you can tell when to not be in front of an opponent. Basically when you hear them activate one assume they will throw it from then on and keep moving. Also, as stated above the grenade is hard to aim at longer ranges so you may want to keep your distance.


CTF -Capture The Flag

CRK -Close Range Kill, the tactic of basically ramming an opponent and killing them in a single shot.

DaJ -Duck and Jump (fig. 5 above)

Dump -To dump a player refers to when you are being chased and cut around another player so that the person chasing you attacks them, leaving you to escape.

FFA -Free For All, a deathmatch type style game with no teams.

FOV -Field Of View, basically the area you can see in the game world. Default is 90 and it can be changed with the fov # command in the console

HPB -High Ping Bastard, this is used in various clan divisions, it refers to the player having a standard analogue internet connection (14.4 – 53.3 kbps) with a ping usually well over 200.

Lance -A lance is a term used in CTF games used referring to the players in either the offensive or the defensive groups on a single team. LPB –

Low Ping Bastard (or Low Ping Bait), this is used in various clan divisions, it refers to the player having a none analogue internet connection (ISDN, cable modem, T1, T3, etc..) and usually a ping under 150.

Pimp -To “pimp a level” (or level pimp) refers to an experienced player winning by about double the next highest players score / To totally control a level.

Ping -The time in milliseconds it takes you to send and receive one packet of information from a server (0-100 is no slowdown, 100-200 is limited lag, 300-400 is extremely slow and 500+ is generally unplayable in Q2)

Range -Range refers to the distance between you and a target. CRK is being in contact with an opponent, close is within 1 to 3 player spaces, mid is generally 5 to 20 and long range would be over 20 or 30.

Rjump -Rocket jump, this refers to the action of aiming strait down and jumping then firing a rocket to propel you to higher areas than can not normally be reached with the standard jump (can be done with the grenade launcher, hand grenades and the BFG).

Skin -Refers to the PCX file that is wrapped around all players to simulate a texture (found in the :/quake2/baseq2/players/ dir

This isn’t meant to be a forum as such but I occasionally get some really good questions that I answer here. If you have a well thought out question though feel free to send it to me here . I am also happy to respond via e-mail to more basic questions that I will not post in the next version but please keep any questions on the topic of the strategy and concepts of playing various versions of Q2. (Also note that I am just a guy who enjoys playing Q2 and have no inside information about release dates etc.)

-Grenade Dispute
<< I just wanted to comment on your Quake 2 Tactics page. There you say that aiming a grenade (not launcher) isn’t very good. I think its the opposite, someone that knows how the grenade works can be very effective. Prime the grenade then wait 2 ticks and just before the third throw it, then it will explode in the air. I have hit people around corners that way, so I think its very useful.>>

I have gotten a few of these already. What I was referring to was the ease of aiming and hitting a target with the grenade as compared to using other weapons such as the grenade launcher, rocket launcher or rail gun not to mention the fire rate make it a harder weapon to use. Its not to say that it is a bad weapon, I would usually recommend it over the blaster but it is just difficult to time and use at long ranges.

<< I enjoyed your guide very much but you seemed to skip over an important topic, the sound. Sound plays a huge part of Q2 and I was surprised to see it missing from the guide.>>

Yeah, I originally meant to include a sound section but it really doesn’t fit in anywhere exactly so I will just stick it here Smiley

As you pointed out, sound does play an extremely large part in locating an opponent in Q2. First off, it really doesn’t matter how huge of a speaker system you have a good set of headphones will always be better. This is due to the fact that a headset not only is complete surround sound but also buffers out any ambient noise coming from the computer, TV or whatever the hell is going on around you. I just went over to Radio Shack and got a Y plug for my speakers so when I am in windows or whatever I still get normal speaker sound but when I play Q2 I can put on the headphones and go without unplugging any wires.

With a little practice you can figure out where in the level an opponent is from gunshots and even footsteps. Some players will also insist that using a run key instead of having autorun on is superior due to the fact when you are walking you don’t make any footstep sounds. I have tested this a little as well and found that I usually just get pegged by a rail gun/rocket launcher from far away due to the fact that I am moving so slow. Again, if you really think that using a run button is the way to move through a level then go for it but I really wouldn’t recommend it.

-Power Shield?
<< What is the difference btw power shield and power armor? >>
The power sheild and the invisible armor are examples of two items that were never used in any of the levels in the final release. As I understand it the power shield is a kind of armor that only blocks the area directly in front of you unlike normal armor or power armor that block you no matter where you are hit. The invisible armor can be seen in the online manul included with q2 or at the site

-CTF Stuff
<< u have a lot of editing to do on ur newbie guide, first off, the “runes” are called “techs” in ctf 2 and to get rid of one, just bind a key to drop tech and wala, its gone and u cant pick the thing back up, also binding a key to alias smartgrapple “weaplast; use grapple” and then another key to smartgrapple will allow u to use ur grappling hook and then press the grapple button again to return to the weapon u had before u switched to the grappling hook, all this funky shit helps drastically not to mention communication, u dont win a TF or CTF game with out it. L8r PS. dont take any of this the wrong way, I just felt it was “overlooked” and needed to be addressed, and the FOV works great, i never used it before but picked it up instantly. >>

A bit blunt but thats ok. Anyway im not a newbie to ctf which is why I and most other people in the various clans I have talked with have always refered to the Techs as Runes (and will probably continue too) due to the fact that they originated from the old Rune mod. I am, however a newbie to Q2 CTF. Its only been out for a week now so we all are. But thanks for the information, I will make sure to update the guide.

-The Inevitable
<< Hi, I’d just like to say that I like your Strat. Guide. It’s kinda cool Wink Most of your tips are accurate and help those that are new at the game along with those at a medium skill level. (even pro’s can learn stuff from your site!) Anyway, I just wanted to add that I still believe no matter what anyone says, that the best control system is simply the KEYBOARD alone. Forget mice, forget trackballs, forget controllers. Almost every time I play, I get told how I should be in a clan and am invited as I do so well. (I’m not bragging, just telling the truth to get my point across) All I do, is use the keyboard alone, and the mouse for SNIPING shots. (long distance) This way, I don’t have to worry about jumping, when one hand can’t reach that far and the other hand is on the keys. Perhaps if I practiced it enough it might eventually help, but I highly doubt it. Wink (Maybe it’s just me) But I’d be willing to put my keyboard up against any mouse player. WinkAnyway, nice Strategy guide, and keep up the good work! =) >>

Im sorry, your wong…its all about speed, a keyboard can’t rotate as fast as a mouse its the way the game is set up. If you want to play me and see go to efnet #dw and look for dw2|theros. Im not trying to be cocky or anything, its just like I said, thats how the game is. I used to stand by keyboard up until Duke 3d came out at which point I would get wupped by most descent mousers so I had to change.

-CFG Difference?
<< Hi- I really appreciate the work you did on the Tactics and Strategy page. As a newbie to Q2, I really picked up alot. My question is: When a player is “circle strafing” what key/mouse stokes is that person using? I presume you’re circling the target dead in front of you, but I can’t figure it out. Also, the config.cfg file you have for downloading doesn’t match the bindings that are mentioned in the article. After some fiddling I came up with: bind * “use Railgun” bind KP_HOME “weapprev” bind KP_UPARROW “+forward” bind KP_PGUP “weapnext” bind KP_LEFTARROW “+moveleft” bind KP_5 “+movedown” bind KP_RIGHTARROW “+moveright” bind KP_DOWNARROW “+back” bind KP_ENTER “invuse” bind KP_INS “invprev” bind KP_DEL “invnext” bind KP_SLASH “use Super Shotgun” bind KP_MINUS “use Rocket Launcher” bind KP_PLUS “cmd help”>>

Circle strafing is accomplished by using the strafe left or strafe right keys and then using the mouse to keep your crosshair trained on a target. This results in you going sidways around an oponent in a circle/arc type motion while shooting inward. As for the config file….I recomend using the one I sugested in the guide due to the fact that the arrows are centered. With that you can reach all keys on the numeric pad without reaching too far. I have played ever since the Wolfenstien days so I have always been used to the arrow keys being all together. So again, the way I listed is the config I recomend and is just slightly altered from the one I use. hope this helped, Theros

-Walk vs Run
<< sure, it wasn’t that big of a deal in q1 because running didn’t produce any sound. in q2, though, a player running makes noise, which can be *invaluable* in finding your next frag. to have the best of both worlds, i’ve turned always run on, and have bound a key to walk. i run along, and if i don’t see anyone, i’ll walk a few steps and listen for footfalls. very, very, affective because your enemy cannot hear you walking and because your sounds are usually masked by his/her own. also, something i read a while back in a q1 tactics guide that you might want to mention: the best place to aim at an enemy when using the rocket launcher is at their feet. aim at their body and miss, the rocket goes right by them. if you aim at the floor, you consistently inflict splash damage. with the chaingun, a very effective tactic is to spin the gun up for a second and then enter the next room or hall where you know an enemy to be. you may or may not loose the element of surprise, but it is well worth the loss. that gun at full speed is awesome. hope this makes sense. -troy >>

Good point. I wrote this for more novice players who tend to over do things (those who always duck or would always walk). If you are more experianced though and you know how to effectivly use this tactic go for it. I did also mean to use the “pre charge” thing for guns such as the BFG, hyperblaster and minigun but I wasn’t sure where to put it so it got cut out in the final. Thanks for the intrest, Theros

That pretty much covers the basic points I wanted to go over for The Tactics And Psychology of Quake II (ver 2.1). I enjoyed writting the new CTF section and I do hope to eventually do my DM/CTF pathes on a series of overhead maps when I figure out the best way to do it. I would also encourage any feedback or tactical questions sent to me at, I hope this guide has helped!

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