When you start a New Game in Quake, you’ll be presented with a Difficulty Select Level. There are three obvious paths — left (easy), middle (normal), and right (hard). But, there’s a hidden fourth difficulty that’s only available if you explore this level carefully and discover the secret route. Nightmare Difficulty is only recommended for hardcore players, but if you’ve been playing Quake for the last 25+ years, you’re probably already totally familiar with this secret. Still, it’s fun enough that we had to talk about it. Its one of the most infamous Difficulty Select Menus of all time!
Nightmare Difficulty is absolutely a nightmare — and its the only way to get most of the new Achievements in the game. Enemies are faster and deal more damage, and you’re stuck with a maximum of 50 HP. Not easy to deal with in an old-school FPS. You’ll need to learn the layouts of every level and really master all the secret locations to survive. Knowing where all the Quad Damage power-ups are located is essential… and ridiculously fun.
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How To Select Nightmare Difficulty
Start a New Game and enter the Difficulty / Level Select area. Go through any of the three difficulties to enter the hub where you can choose which episode to start.
- Go to Episode 4: The Elder World and jump into the water.
- Immediately swim toward the ledge you just dropped from while in the thin plane of water.
- When you fall down, you’ll land on the raised wooden path in the area below. You can only reach this wooden beam by dropping on it from the water.
- On the high beam, walk to the opening to reach a lava portal. Enter it to begin the game on Nightmare Difficulty.
And that’s it! Thankfully, if you miss the high wooden beam in the Episode 4 area, you can teleport back to the hub. Go to the hallway opposite the Episode 4 entrance portal. There’s a portal here that puts you back in the hub area so you can try again.