Playing Quake 3 on a Mac in 2023

My 16" MacBook Pro has a 120-Hz screen. However, only a few games can run at 120 fps with native resolution on this screen, but Quake 3 is one of them!

The current versions of Quake III Arena on Steam and GoG do not include macOS binaries. To play the game on macOS, you need to install a macOS port and a few additional mods. These mods will enable higher resolution, correct the aspect ratio, and add HD textures. Here is the complete list:

Higher Resolution

You can get the latest build of ioquake3 from Mac Source Ports, a website that provides modern macOS builds for classic games.

And use these commands to set the native resolution for your device:

r_customwidth 3456
r_customheight 2234
r_mode -1

Change r_customwidth and r_customheight to match the exact resolution of your own device.

If you want the game to show its FPS, you can use the following console command:

cg_drawfps 1

If you cannot get 120 fps on your M1/M2 device, it may be limited by a setting. Open autoexec.cfg in the baseq3 folder and find this line to set it to 120:

seta com_maxfps "120"

Flexible HUD

This mod can fix the HUD aspect ratio:

HD Textures

The following two mods offer improved textures:

After extraction, simply put the *.pk3 files into the baseq3 folder.

This will also enhance the resolution of all menu elements.

Here are a few screenshots from this config. These are the uncompressed screenshots from 16" MacBook Pro native resolution 3456x2234, so they may take a while to load.

Screenshot 2023-07-09 at 5.31.41 AM Screenshot 2023-07-09 at 5.32.02 AM

And one more thing

Quake3e is another improved port that can run on macOS. However, the project currently does not offer a macOS bundle, so you will need to build it yourself and run it from the command line.

Quake3e provides several excellent additions:

  • Vulkan rendering engine
  • con_scale command to adjust font scaling. Setting it to 2 or 3 works great for 4K screens.

Performance Test

On my M1 Max MacBook Pro, the classic demo four achieves an impressive 500+ fps at native resolution. If you want to try it on your own device, use the following console commands to run a performance test.

timedemo 1
demo four
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