Open Arena The Completely Free Quake III Clone

I started Playing Open Arena lately, this game really could use a major update. However, this game is striving to become the free open source clone of Quake III Arena and is based on the ioQuake3 engine.

This game is still currently in development. With that being said this article can change from time to time to reflect current changes with the game.

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How to download open arena and Install

You can download version 0.8.8 (currently the latest version) completely for free just check out their website.


This website has many different packages but the ones we will focus on are Windows and Linux. Sorry, not Sorry Macs…

OA Windows Installation

There is no package installer for Windows, unfortunately. Maybe one day on a full release there will be.

For now, its a simple Zipped up archive file. Using your favorite archive extractor, extract all the files and folders to your favorite location.

I like to do a games directory so maybe C:/Games/OpenArena for example.

Easy to remember, which makes it easy to find and place mods in later.

Installing Open Arena on Linux

Being free and open-source, naturally, the game runs natively on Linux!

Sadly, I’m not 100% familiar with all the different flavors of Linux. So I was told to always focus on what you know, and what I know is Ubuntu.

It’s also too simple to install Open Arena on Ubuntu just follow these easy commands.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install open arena 

Copy that into your terminal and you are good to go. It’s also available in software distribution package managers if need be.

Open Arena Vs Quake 3 Arena

OA is built on the Quake III engine but the more modernized version called ioquake3.

Quake 3 and OA are very similar but Quake III hasn’t seen development in years. Even though, no updates to Open Arena have been introduced since 2012 it is still more modern than Original Quake III.

If you wish to kind of re-live a more modernized version of Quake III with newer models and sounds you should check out Open Arena.

What is it going to hurt it’s free? If you enjoyed Quake III and want a game to maybe sink some time into with a great community you are going to enjoy this game.

The Best Mods

In my Opinion RatMod for Open Arena is the best mod for the game.

The only problem with Ratmod is you don’t just download a file from the internet like the olden days and install it into your quake directory.

You must connect to a Ratmod running server and allow automatic downloads to play the mod.

If you want to learn more about Ratmod you can check out the official github.

Open Arena Has Tons of Game Modes

Open Arena

Game modes List

  • Free For All – is The Standard Death Match well known in the Arena FPS
  • Team Deathmatch – is The standard Team Mode, queue up with your buddies and get to fragging.
  • Tournament – is for Duelers. 1 on 1 fragging action.
  • Capture The Flag – is Team-based capture the opposing team’s flag so many times and win!
  • One Flag CTF – is a centralized flag which both teams go after to capture it.
  • Harvester – Collect the enemy’s teams skulls and bring them to a point for collection.
  • Overload – Destroy the other teams crystal in their base!
  • Elimination – Reminds of you a Counter-Strike 1 life gameplay (without the bomb of course.)
  • CTF Elimination – Score by Capping the flag and fragging the other team!
  • Last Man Standing – You only have a certain amount of lives in this Free for All can you survive?
  • Domination – hold points on the map. This game type is Battlefield’s bread and butter why not try it in Arena FPS style?

Is OpenArena free?

Open Arena is 100% free and works on all sorts of devices.

The Engine is based off of the Quake III Engine which is ancient by todays standards. That doesn’t mean its a bad engine or that it looks bad at all. If you have anything from year 2000+ you should have little to no issues running the game.

You can download OpenArena on Linux, Mac, and Windows completely free.

However, you do not install Open Arena the same way you would other games from a .exe.

You can watch this video to learn how to install Open Arena Free on Windows 10.

Open Arena works pretty well on some Android devices, although I’ve researched that some mods do not work great.

Open Arena Communities

This section is currently under construction

Open Arena Streams and Podcasts

If you haven’t listened to the In The Keep Podcast interviewing DOTS from /N/ you should give that a listen right now!

Dots is an extremely skilled played in Open Arena and mostly plays Clan Arena at nights.

If you want to catch some Live Stream of Open Arena. Smango streams a lot of his matches on the Quakefans YouTube Channel.

This is not limited to just his matches but we have been known to host some of the Tournaments when asked!

This article can be changed at any time and will be updated to reflect the best information available for Open Arena.

Last Updated 7/16/2021

Optimizing Open Arena

Below you can find some useful tips for Open Arena and more. Since some of the documentation is out of date I’ve copied and pasted and updated what I know to be correct.

Name and Player Model

Give yourself a nice, unique name – and spice it up with colors! Here’s how: place “^” characters followed by a digit 1 through 7 to indicate color. (This is pretty standard for all Quake III engine games.)

Color numbers are as follows:

^^0 - black/orange
^0 - white
^1 - red
^2 - green
^3 - yellow
^4 - blue
^5 - cyan
^6 - pink
^7 - white (default)

Select a player model as well – choice doesn’t really matter here, it’s all personal preference.


(Setup → Game Options → Automatic Downloading)

Make sure your auto-download setting is on if you want to play on multiplayer servers – most of them run custom maps and/or mods and you will not be able to join without downloading their goodness.

This is really important if you want to play Open Arena RatMod as it is the only way to obtain the mod.


(Setup → System → Network)

Choose an appropriate setting – most players have cable or DSL, so if you have a dial-up modem or ISDN line, you may be at a disadvantage.

Field of View

The default setting for the field of view (cg_fov) variable is 90 (degrees). This means that you won’t see what’s going on directly on your left and right – a clear disadvantage. I like to set my cg_fov setting to 130, but anything between 110 and 150 is considered to be a good setting.

seta cg_fov "130"


Bobbing in OpenArena is the movement of the aim circle during movement. Of course, if you’re running and shooting, you would not want your aim to be bobbing, possibly resulting in a miss instead of a hit. Setting the following variables to 0 will disable bobbing:

seta cg_bobup "0.000"
seta cg_bobroll "0.000"
seta cg_bobpitch "0.000"
seta cg_bobyaw "0.000"
seta cg_runroll "0.000"
seta cg_runpitch "0.000"

Blood, Gibs, and Smoke

Just like bobbing, blood, gibs, and smoke will prevent you from seeing the opponent clearly. Therefore, I turn them off when playing competitively (i.e., trying to beat someone rather than just having fun). The same goes for turning off ejecting brass and projectile trails from weapons, as well as muzzle flashes and shadows. Warning: these are special effects that are actually quite fun and make OpenArena what it is. You may want to keep them enabled.

  • seta com_blood “0”
  • seta cg_shadows “0”
  • seta cg_gibs “0”
  • seta cg_smoke_sg “0”
  • seta cg_smokegrowth_gl “0”
  • seta cg_smokegrowth_rl “0”
  • seta cg_smokeradius_gl “0”
  • seta cg_smokeradius_rl “0”
  • seta cg_noprojectiletrail “1”
  • seta cg_brasstime “0”
  • seta cg_muzzleflash “0”


First of all, set the delay between switching weapons to 0 – any other setting simply doesn’t make sense. You should also turn off the rendering of the actual weapon and rely on HUD (there is a small icon indicating which weapon is in use) – this will give you extra screen space to notice enemies. Lastly, turn off automatic weapon switching upon picking up a new weapon – it is usually a disadvantage (imagine shooting someone and – oops – auto-switching to a wrong weapon).

seta cg_weaponCycleDelay "0"
seta cg_drawGun "0"
seta cg_autoswitch "0"

Normally, you switch weapons by rotating the mouse wheel – with a penalty of a delay while you’re rotating the wheel, going through all the weapons you have. You should create keyboard binds that allow you to switch to the needed weapon instantaneously – this will save you a lot of kills. Here are some sample mappings. Note that the mappings are around the “WASD” movement keys, which allows you to quickly reach them as needed. Note: OpenArena already lets you switch weapons using the keyboard – simply press 0-9 keys. However, custom binds may be faster since you won’t have to reach for said keys.

bind q "weapon 1" // gauntlet
bind c "weapon 7" // rails
bind f "weapon 5" // rockets
bind x "weapon 2" // machinegun
bind z "weapon 6" // lightning gun
bind e "weapon 3" // shotgun

So, according to these binds, pressing “q” will instantly switch the weapon to gauntlet while pressing “c” will switch to rail. Of course, you must have these weapons as well as have the ammo to shoot them in order to switch to them!


HUD, or heads up display, gives you access to valuable information that you’ll find useful during the game. Here’s a few settings worth enabling.

  • seta cg_showStatus “1”
  • seta cg_alwaysWeaponBar “1”
  • seta cg_drawSpeed “1”
  • seta cg_drawStatus “1”
  • seta cg_drawTimer “1”
  • seta cg_drawFPS “1”
  • seta cg_lagometer “1”
  • seta cg_drawAmmoWarning “1”
  • seta cg_drawAttacker “1”

Keyboard Binds

You can create keyboard binds to quickly issue a command to the game. We can use binds to do other useful things:

  • // set your name to a generic one, thus hiding from your friends 🙂 bind p “name UnnamedPlayer”  
  • // some gamer etiquette! bind l “say LOL!!!” bind n “say NICE ONE!!!” bind k “say THANKS!!!”  
  • // take a quick screenshot bind y “screenshot”  
  • // change teams in CTF and other matches bind 7 “team blue” bind 8 “team red” bind 9 “team spectator”  
  • // disconnect from a server or quit altogether bind F11 “disconnect” bind F12 “quit”

Forcing Player Models

Forcing player models means displaying the same player model for every player, regardless of what their actual choice is. This is useful because it allows you to “get used” to a certain player model, making it easier for you to hit it. Lastly, choosing Sarge as your own model and forcing other players’ models allows you to take advantage of brightskins, a special extension to OpenArena available on many servers which, as you’ve guessed, makes player models bright and easily visible. If you want to use bright skins on your own, find z-proskins2.pk3 (available on many servers) and place it into your baseoa directory.

seta cg_forcemodel "1"

125 frames per second

A maximum FPS of 125 is a magic number in OpenArena (another, higher magic number is 333).

seta com_maxfps “125” // or 60 for LCD’s, 85 for CRT’s if you are playing this on modern hardware, you can push this even further. I myself use seta com_maxfps “250” because I have a modern gaming PC.