The Zen of Frag: Quake II Death Match Tips from the PC Gamer Staff
Gary Whitta – Editor-In-Chief
The first and most fundamental rule of survival in Quake II is to not listen to any of the so-called “advice” from any of the pansy-asses on this page. If they were so good at the game, they wouldn’t spend most of the time squirming in agony and hitting SPACE to respawn while I stand over their steaming corpses laughing, would they?
Second most importantly is to avoid doing anything that might possibly have a negative impact on your perceived coolness. Losing looks bad. Losing makes you less popular amongst your peers, and less attractive to the opposite sex. So lie, cheat, steal, camp, complain… do whatever you need to do to avoid losing. Here are some basic guidelines which have been very helpful to me in this regard.
Know the Level: Basically, refuse to play any level that you don’t know intimately. You’ve gotta know where the weapons and the other groovy stuff is so you can run patterns and make sure you’re there to grab it when it respawns. If you’re wandering around aimless wondering where the Railgun slugs might be found, chances are the only ones you find are the red-hot ones you’re picking out of your ass.
Camping is Subjective: Every time you are killed in Quake II, claim it was by a camper. No-one can really deny this since there’s no rigid definition of what “camping” actually is, so it can be molded to your needs in any given situation. Racing for the big gun with another guy, and he gets to it first and kills you? Obviously he was camping. Shot in the back? Well you didn’t see the guy so we’ll assume he was camping. Killed with the railgun? We all know that’s the camper’s weapon of choice, so case closed there too. In an Internet game only you and the person who killed you knows how the kill was made, so set up a macro key to say “Hey, Stop Camping!” every time you get killed. Everyone hates campers so people will give you the benefit of the doubt and side with you.
Never, Ever Crouch: The primary objective when playing Quake II is to look good, and quite simply you cannot do this if you are crouching like a bitch. Crouching looks silly, and it is simply not worth the 0.00001% tactical advantage it gives you in a firefight. Victimise crouchers and make a point of hunting them down in order to teach them the error of their crouchy ways.
Camp: I don’t care how sneaky this might be. This is Quake II, not Miss Manners Interactive, and you have no obligation to play fair, or ethically, or whatever those whiners who go on and on and on about camping might call it. On the smaller levels there’s generally a dominant weapon, like the rocket launcher on Base1, so camp out behind the little stairs that lead down to it and kill any sucker that jumps up for it. You’ll either kill everyone or annoy them so much that they all disconnect, making you the undisputed master of your domain.
Look Out For These Names: If you’re in an Internet game and you see players by the names of Cyberwolf, Destroyer or Lil Billy, hunt them down and kill them. They possess only minimal skills and represent easy frag fodder.
Save That BFG: On the rare occasion that you get one, don’t waste it on just one dude. Switch to a smaller weapon and use that for general-purpose killing until you find a room with a big juicy firefight in it. Then fire that sucker right into the crowd and let the big dog eat!
I hope this has been helpful. Happy fragging!
Joel Durham – Technical Editor
The key to staying alive in Quake II is the same as in Quake: strafe. When you’re attacking someone or being attacked, never stop strafing about randomly – it make you really hard to hit. DO NOT stand there and swivel like a turret – you will die. If you don’t know how to strafe, learn.
Unfortunately, thanks to horribly clingy walls and a surplus of ambient junk jutting out from them, it’s a bit harder to strafe in Q2 than in the original; there’s nothing more frustrating than spotting a rocket closing in on you and hitting a sidestep key to get out of its way, only to find yourself stuck on a wall. Hopefully, id will address this in its heavily vaunted final – er – point release, but until then, you’ll have to deal with it. Try to be constantly aware of your position and keep a little space between you and the surrounding walls whenever you can. It can be hard to target an enemy while strafing – use a crosshair and concentrate on keeping it right on your target – or just ahead of your target if you’re using a weapon with a slow traveling projectile.
Having a good weapon is paramount to racking up frags, but in Q2 you have to know how and when to use each weapon. There’s no be-all, end-all weapon in Q2, no equivalent of Quake’s rocket launcher. A lot of folks like to think it’s the rail gun, but they’re wrong – it’s a great single-shot-kill weapon for long distance hits and for use in narrow hallways, but it has it’s weaknesses. If you miss, it’ll seem like an eternity before you get another shot; if your target also has a rail gun and he’s a bit more accurate than you, you’re a frag. Also, there’s nothing more entertaining than watching people in big rooms strafing around and trying to hit each other with rail guns. If you get into this situation, do yourself a favor and switch to another weapon – any other weapon, a blaster, a shotgun, etc. You’ll start scoring hits, and your rail gun wielding opponent will soon be another point in your score.
Other weapons are just as dependent on your situation to be used effectively. Don’t bother with the shotgun unless you’re desperate. The blaster is just as effective. The super shotgun is awesome up close, but across a distance it loses it’s potency. The machine gun is a good all around weapon, and it’s excellent if your target is using a weapon ineffectively, but if your opponent is skillful you should find something more powerful, and fast. The chain gun is downright deadly, especially up close, but even with a full load of ammo you can really only expect a kill or two before it’s empty.
Be careful with the grenade launcher: it’s easy to kill yourself with it. Use it to pick off stationary enemies, or to bounce grenades around corners. Whatever you do, don’t chase people with it! They’ll outrun your grenades and you’ll run over them. Way too many newbies die that way.
The rocket launcher is nice for medium range attacks, but using it on a close target endangers you, and firing at far away folks is pointless because the rockets travel so slowly – they’re really easy to dodge. The hyper blaster is an excellent all around weapon – used under quad damage, it’s the deadliest weapon in the game – but it’s really precise. Aim carefully. The BFG is overrated, and easy to get out of the way of. It’s great for firing into crowds for scads of easy frags, but that’s about the only situation in which it’s worthwhile.
Speaking of easy kills, don’t fool yourself into thinking that crouching actually helps you. For every time crouching saves your life, it’ll kill you ten times. When you’re crouching, you can’t strafe very quickly (actually, most crouchers don’t strafe at all). You become a sitting duck and a very easy kill. On the other side of that, if you see somebody crouching, set you sights on him. I often find myself seeking out crouchers to run up my score.
Whether you’re targeting a croucher, a camper or an actual player, it’s a good idea to single out one victim at a time. Not matter how many people are running rampant on a server, you’ll get more kills if you concentrate on a single target until he’s dead. Don’t just run around and fire at everybody; you’ll score some damage on a few folks, making them easier for someone else to kill.
When you’re attacked, don’t run away! I can’t believe how often I’ve attacked someone with a blaster, because that’s all I had…and he turned tail and ran! It’s almost an automatic kill from that point, as I chase him down, each hit doing a mere 15 points of damage, until he dies a pathetic, cowardly death. Turn around and fire back! I may only have a few health points left, or I may be a newbie who’s not very good yet. If you don’t run away, you may be in for an easy kill; when you run away, you are an easy kill.
One other thing: don’t camp. Okay? Don’t camp. Get it? Don’t camp. Let me clarify that: don’t camp.
You can’t win by camping. You are stupid if you camp. All you’ll do is infuriate everybody else, rack up a mediocre score and destroy your reputation. Some servers will actually kick you out for camping – more power to ’em! I always fire a rocket or a grenade into a popular camp site as I run by, whether I know there’s a camper there or not – nothing gives me more pleasure than wasting a camper before he’s even seen me, and it’s an effortless frag. If you can’t win without trickery, there are lot of underhanded tactics that are more effective than camping – like fleeing from an attacker to get him to chase you, running into a narrow hallway, turning around and popping a rail slug into his face. If you’re gonna sucker punch your way to victory, be creative. Better yet, learn how to play effectively, win without being slimy, keep it up, and soon you’ll make a proud name for yourself.
Michael Luton – Webmaster
Besides all the usual mumbo jumbo about memorizing the levels and control setup one of the most important things in Quake 2 is knowing how to effectively use the weapons. After all, it is the weapons that let you kill the other players.
Given a choice between the machine gun and chain gun I will always choose the machine gun. In deathmatch the machine gun does not kick back so aiming with it is fairly easy and you don’t chew though the ammunition like the chain gun does. The machine gun is also effective when chasing another player through winding hallways. There’s no startup and spin down time associated with the machine gun so as soon as you get a line of sight on your opponent you can let rip and immediately cause some damage. The only time I’ll use the chain gun is when I don’t have any other choice and the other player is in close quarters.
The BFG, is a complex weapon that not a lot of player understand how to use. The BFG can hurt players in one of three ways. The first and most obvious is the impact of the green ball. Anyone who gets hit by the green ball is almost guaranteed to die. There is also a splash damage effect when the ball detonates. Interestingly, the splash damage is twice as deadly to the shooter as it is to everyone else. The second most obvious way the BFG can hurt players is with the green lasers that shoot out of the ball as it travels through the air. What most people don’t understand about the BFG is the detonation blast effect. To explain it simply, whenever the green ball reaches the end of its journey and detonates, anyone in line of sight of the detonation point and also in line of sight of the shooter will take damage. So when you fire the BFG make sure you have as many other players in your line of sight as possible when the ball hits its target. If someone else fires the BFG in a room you’re in then get the hell out! Check out Duval Magic’s Quake 2 Weapons FAQ for a more detailed an in-depth explanation of the BFG and all the other weapons in Quake 2.
Mike Wolf – Disc Editor
Quake II Deathmatch is anything but easy. Especially when you’ve got thirty people all running around a single level trying to get their hands on the rocket launcher. I’ll be honest — I suck. But here’s what I try to do when I play.
1) Get the rail gun. I love the rail gun. It’s by far my favorite weapon. Of course, I’m not any good at it. But I’m just as lucky with it as I am with the rocket launcher. And there’s something instinctually pleasing about putting a slug right through an opponent. Or two or three opponents, if you get really lucky. A lot of people like to camp out with the rail gun. I simply can’t aim well enough to effectively take out moving targets. So I jump right into the fray, hold down the fire key, and let the slugs fly.
2) Get some armor! Not only do I aim poorly, my defensive skills are lacking. The only way I can hope to stay alive is by getting some serious armor around my body. At least that way I’ll survive the first rail gun or rocket blast, and can hopefully get one or two shots off before the second slug takes me out.
3) Keep your distance. I prefer to fight head-to-head from a distance away. Especially if I have the rail gun. Because of my keyboard setup (mouse-look on, forward and back with the up and down arrows, and sidestep with the left and right arrows), I can circle-strafe easily. I usually sidestep around an opponent, filling them full of whatever arsenal I have at hand.
4) Whatever you do, stay away from the walls! Those sticky-walls will get ya every single time. Also, it makes it less likely that you’ll take backlash from a rocket blast you might otherwise avoid. That is, unless the opposing player is smart and is aiming for your feet with his launcher.
The main thing you want to remember when you’re death matching is that it’s just a game. If I got frustrated every time I was knocked off, I’d have a hole in the middle of my monitor. Play until it’s not fun to die every 30 seconds. Then quit out of Quake II and go play Fallout.
A word about CTF: I love CTF. For some reason, I’m much better at Capture the Flag than I am at straight deathmatch. Probably because it’s a team effort, and requires a bit more skill than just pointing and shooting. If I had to say one thing about CTF, though, it would be use your grappling hook. There are so many uses for the grappling hook it’s astounding. You can use it to get out of sticky situations. You can use it to grab onto an enemy player, hold on to him, and pummel him with another weapon. My favorite use for it is to grab onto the enemy flag, and then use it to make a fast getaway. You can travel much faster with the hook than you can running or swimming. And then, of course, you can use it to hang out at an elevated position and camp out, waiting for the enemy. With a rail gun, of course. Or, more preferably, a BFG.
Bill Harms – Assistant Disc Editor
Most of my strategies revolve around tracking down and killing my good buddy Smoke. He’s a slippery booger, and likes to crouch. If you come across a croucher like Smoke, you have a few options. The first is to jump over them, whip around, and shoot them in the back of the head. A slight variation of that is to jump on top of them, and shoot down–most players won’t even be able to find you until they’re dead. Or, if you have a rail gun, a crouched figure makes a very easy target.
Moving on, let’s say you meet Smoke in a lonely hallway. You are armed only with the default blaster and he’s got the rail gun. Don’t panic–this one is easy. Simply aim directly at him and shoot, timing your jumps so that you leap over his shots. The rail gun takes a long time to reload and if you time the jumps right, you won’t even get a scratch.
And my last tip involves escaping from the dreaded BFG. Most players panic and stare at that green light like a deer trapped in headlights. To escape certain death, run around a corner, crouch behind a box or other object, or if all else fails, get behind a post. You may take a bit of damage, but you’ll live to fill that BFGing pig licker full of lead.
Dan Bennett – Editor
I find it helps to use a name that will really humiliate your opponent when you kill him. It’s really embarrassing for the other guy to see his name next to “was killed by SuckZilla.” (Actually, I originally chose the name SuckZilla because I was so bad. But it’s taken on an ironic note as I’ve gotten better. Now — every once in a great while — my name is in the top spot when the frag limit hits, and everyone has to deal with the fact that they were beaten by someone called SuckZilla. It crushes their souls.)
Beyond that, I can only make some suggestions to newbies:
1) When you’re killed and you respawn, don’t freeze in that spot and try to kill the other guys with your pistol as they run by. There are weapons out there, kids, and if you move your feet just a bit, you might find one of ’em. (Besides, in a really crowded game, it’s only a matter of seconds before someone else respawns where you just appeared and telefrags you. If you’re too timid to join the fight, at least take a few steps to one side.)
2) Do. Not. Camp. Campers rarely get the most kills, and even if you do manage to win, your cowardice will haunt you into your twilight years.
3) Stop with the crouching, already! We can still see you down there.
Rob Smolka – Assistant Editor
I am a living example of “practice makes perfect”. When I first started at PC Gamer, I totally sucked at Deathmatch because I never played Quake (I’m among those that get queasy from some 1st person shooters). When Quake 2 arrived, I figured I wouldn’t be able to play long enough to get competitive. Amazingly, Quake 2 doesn’t have an effect on me, so I’ve been able to hone my skills to compete with the big boys, and now even win my fair share.
A lot of people like to avoid enemy fire by jumping. I also use this technique, but combine it with alternately crouching. I have my controls set up to use ALT for crouching and the SPACE BAR for jumping. Randomly combining these two evasive actions has proved effective in avoiding all kinds of trouble.
The biggest key to becoming a successful death matcher is being able to look up and down. I set my second mouse button up to do this. At first, this was one of the more difficult things to perfect, but the time spent in learning how to use it effectively makes all the difference. Going up and down stairs, it is essential to adjust your sight so you can shoot while remaining on the move.
While the hyper blaster remains my favorite weapon because of its ability to spray a large area with deadly projectiles, you’ll never get to the top of the frag list until you become effective with the heavy duty, one-shot killers like the super shotgun and the rail gun. The only way to do this is with practice, there’s no secret I can pass along that will be a magic cure for you.
Becoming comfortable with your control key setup is of utmost importance. Once you get something you’re comfortable with, stick with it until it becomes second nature. I prefer the mouse – keyboard option, but some people prefer just using the keyboard whatever floats your boat. I used to try and play with a joypad, but I advise against this because you just don’t have the flexibility to turn quickly enough. Using the mouse to change direction provides the speed and accuracy you need to turn on a dime and head in a different direction. Just by using this method, I don’t even need to sidestep (although some people swear you have to use the sidestep to be successful, I do just fine without it for me, the simpler things are the better).