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OpenArena logo
Developer(s) OpenArena Team
Engine ioquake3
Platform(s) Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, OS X, QNX, Solaris, Microsoft Windows, Android, Ouya, Pandora
Genre(s) First-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Distribution Download

OpenArena is a free and open source first-person shooter (FPS) computer game based heavily on the Quake III Arena-style deathmatch. The OpenArena project was established on August 19, 2005, the day after the id Tech 3 GPL source code was released.

Current version is 0.8.8, and an assets "reboot" named "OA3" is planned, with the aim of steering the art style away from the classic space and gothic themes to "something more manga inspired", while also raising its quality and performances standards.

OpenArena official site includes downloads for Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and Mac OS X operating systems. Thanks to third-party efforts, it is also available from the default repositories of a number of GNU/Linux distributions, including Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, Mandriva, Arch and Ubuntu. It is also in development for the Maemo mobile operating system. Ports for Raspberry Pi[1] and Android[2] are available, too.



OpenArena's gameplay closely follows Quake III Arena: score frags to win the game using a balanced set of weapons each designed for different situations, with just minor changes to the rules enabled by default (like awarding a character for pushing another one to his death).

Each match happens in an "arena": a map where players try to kill each other; some arenas are designed for Capture the flag and similar gametypes, so are built with two bases (usually identical, apart the colors), for the two teams.

The Quake III style of play is very fast and requires skill to be played successfully online. It's an arcade-style gameplay which allows to quickly move through maps thanks to bouncepads, accelerator pads, teleporters and advanced techniques such as strafe jumping and rocket jumping. Some arenas include traps.

The game can be played online (against other human players) or offline (against computer-controlled characters known as bots). "Singpleplayer" mode allows to play a pre-defined series of deatchmatches, unlocking a new "tier" of four maps after completing the previous one, or to create custom matches in any gametype through the "skirmish" mode.


Each weapon has got its unique fire type and does not share ammo with different weapons. Although design is different, behavior is the same of Quake 3 weapons. Hitscan (instant hit) weapons can take advantage of built-in "delag" technology, if it's enablend in both server and client.

  • Gauntlet: melee weapon. Mostly used as last resort due to the fact of not requiring ammo.
  • Machinegun: hitscan weapon. Not extremely deadly, but effective also at long range (e.g. useful to finish a weaken opponent who's running away).
  • Shotgun: hitscan weapon. Quite common to find, is powerful at close range, but ineffective at long range.
  • Grenade launcher: projectile weapon. Launches grenades with an arc trajectory, in short range. Grenades bounce on walls and explode after a little time or when touching another character.
  • Rocket launcher: projectile weapon. Powerful weapon which launches rockets which fly in a straight line, exploding on contact. Thanks to its blast damage, allows the useful tactic of aiming at the opponent's feet. Useful also for rocket jump technique.
  • Lightning gun: hitscan weapon. Emits an energy beam, which hurts at high rate. Deadly, but its range is limited to close and medium distance.
  • Railgun: hitscan weapon. Extremely accurate and very powerful, but has got a slow fire rate
  • Plasma gun: projectile weapon. Fires fast-travelling plasma balls at high rate, which however can be dodged at long range.
  • BFG10K: projectile weapon. Very rare to find, quickly fires huge explosive plasma shots. The ultimate weapon, works like a faster rocket launcher.
  • Nailgun: projectile weapon. Fires a wave of nails, with a spread smaller than shotgun, but it's not instant-hit. A bit slow, but capable of delivering extremely high damage with a single well-placed shot. First introduced in Quake 3: Team Arena.
  • Proximity mines launcher: projectile weapon. Fires adhesive mines, which stick to walls and even characters. Mines detonate when enemies get near to them, or when they are hit by splash damage, or after twenty seconds. The only weapon capable to pass through the invulnerability shield. From Team Arena.
  • Chaingun: hitscan weapon. This gatling gun has got a fire rate much higher than the standard machinegun, resulting in a very deadly weapon. But its spread is wider than the one of the machinegun (it's less accurate at long range), and runs out of ammo quickly.

The weapons the player have at spawning depend on the map settings. On most maps, he/she spawn with the gauntlet and the machinegun. There also are rare maps where the player spawn with only one or no one of both (the player always spawn with at least one weapon). The shotgun is also part of these weapon on a lot of maps.


These powerups respawn after about 2 minutes, and usually their effects last 30 seconds by default. It's possible to stack more of them.

  • Battle suit: full protection from weapons splash damage, normal falling, lava/slime and drowning; other damages cut in half.
  • Flight: allows to fly, but does not allow to gain great speed. Lasts 60 seconds by default.
  • Speed: increases movement and fire rate speeds.
  • Invisibility: the carrier becomes almost completely invisible.
  • Quad damage: greatly increases the damage caused by carrier's weapons. By default, damage is multiplied by 3 (the "Quad" name is inherited from previous Quake series games, where it was more powerful).
  • Regeneration: carrier's health slowly regenerates, up to 200.

Holdable items[edit]

After picking up one, they are not immediately effective: the user has to push the "use item" button to activate their effect. Only one item can be carried at once.

  • Medkit: when used, brings your health back to the initial value (125). Cannot be used if your health is higher than that, except the case you have the "guard" rune (in that case, it would bring your health up to 225).
  • Personal teleporter: when activated, it immediately brings to a random spawn point in the arena. Allows to escape when you are in danger. If you were carrying a flag, you will lose it.
  • Kamikaze: if you activate it, you will explode (losing a frag), causing a huge blast which will kill or damage near players (both enemies and allies). If the character owning it is killed, the item will automtically detonate after a few seconds, unless the corpse is hit again and "gibeed" before this happens. This comes from Team Arena.
  • Invulnerability: when activated, it creates an energy barrier around the player, which can look around and shoot to the outside, but cannot move in the meanwhile. Its effect lasts about ten seconds. Only proximity mines can be thrown into the energy sphere, with the result of killing the invulnerability user in a bubble of blood. This comes from Team Arena.


Runes are special items which come from Team Arena. Unlike most items, they do not respawn after a certain time, but only after their previous carrier is dead; they are permanent powerups that remain active until the player dies. It is possible to carry only one of them. Their usual use it in CTF-based maps, with a set of them available in each base, set to allow only players of a certain team to get those in their own base, but sometimes it is possible to find them without team limitations, also in FFA-based maps. Runes do only spawn in baseoa if g_runes variable is set to 1 (default value is 0).

  • Doubler: doubles the damage caused by user's weapons.
  • Ammo regen: your ammo do slowly regenerate, up to a certain value. Also slightly increases fire rate.
  • Scout: increases movement speed and fire rate, but prevents from wearing any armor.
  • Guard: instantly brings your health and armor to 200, and then slowly regenerates your health, up to 200. Armor does not go down to 100.

Other items[edit]

There are some more items available in the game.

  • Ammo prisms: boxes of ammo, specific for each weapon.
  • Health bonuses: bonuses which give you +5, +25, +50, +100 health points: only small health (+5) and megahealt (+100) can bring over the standard maximum of 100, up to 200 (then your health slowly goes down to 100).
  • Armor bonuses: bonuses which give you +5 (armor shard), +50 (yellow armor), +100 (red armor) points, up to 200 (then your armor slowly goes down to 100). Armor absorbs 2/3 of damage taken.
  • Offhand grapple: the grappling hook works like a weapon, but it's not technically a weapon due to the fact its not meant to hurt people. You can shoot it at a wall, so you will be bring there, and remain attached there if you like. It does not require ammo. Being an incomplete Quake 3 feature, left unfinished by id Software, by default bots do not use it at all, due to their a.i. would have problems with it. Rarely found in arenas, but can be given to all players in some game modes.
  • Gametype objectives: some items do appear in specific gametypes only, such as red and blue flags or Harvester skulls.

Game modes[edit]

Gameplay modes exist such as Deathmatch (known as Free For All), Team Deathmatch, Tournament, and Capture The Flag (all modes also in the original Quake III). OpenArena version 0.7.6 adds the new Elimination, CTF Elimination, Last Man Standing and Double Domination gametypes. Domination mode is available, too, and the same are Harvester, One flag CTF and Overload modes (the latter three are from Quake III: Team Arena).

Additional maps and mods[edit]

OpenArena can be expanded with the addition of third-party maps, mods and bots/character models, either designed for OpenArena or designed for Quake III Arena.

Not all textures from Quake 3 have been replaced with free content ones yet, hence some maps designed for Q3 show some "missing textures" as black and white squares when running in OpenArena. OpenArena wiki has got pages about map compatibility' and mod compatibility, listing compatibility tests results with stuff designed for Quake 3.

While official OpenArena releases follow GPLv2 license, third party stuff (especially those designed for Quake III Arena) may use different licenses: running them is user's responsibility.


OpenArena's primary goal is to make a completely free, open source FPS game derived from Quake III. Its game engine is ioquake3, based upon id Software's id Tech 3. In addition, a "missionpack" add-on is planned, to take advantage of the GPL'd Quake 3: Team Arena source code (weapons and items from Team Arena, however, have been included directly into the base game).

The newest version of OpenArena 0.8.8 was released on February 20, 2012. The version 0.8.0 was removed because of the non-free content from the previous version.

Legacy and impact[edit]

Quake 3 Arena has been used as a platform for scholarly work in computer science. Some examples include streaming graphics from a central server,[3] and visualizing large amounts of network data.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ OpenArena on Raspberry Pi store
  2. ^ OpenArena on Google Play Store
  3. ^ Peter Eisert and Philipp Fechteler (2007). "Remote rendering of computer games. Proceedings of the International Conference on Signal Processing and Multimedia Applications (SIGMAP), Barcelona, Spain, July 2007.". 
  4. ^ Lucas Parry (2007). "L3DGEWorld 2.1 Input & Output Specifications. CAIA Technical Report 070808A, August 2007.". 

External links[edit]