Quake III Arena is the third in the series and differs from previous games by excluding a traditional single-player element and focusing on multi-player action. The single-player is instead played against computer controlled bots in a similar style to Unreal Tournament.
Notable features of Quake 3 include the minimalist design, lacking rarely used items and features, the extensive customizability of player settings such as field of view, texture detail and enemy model, and advanced movement features such as strafe and rocket-jumping.
Quake 3 is available on a number of platforms and contains mature content. The game was highly praised by reviewers who, for the most part, described the gameplay as fun and engaging. Many liked the crisp graphics and focus on multiplayer. The game engine has been heavily modified.
Quake 3 has also been used extensively in professional electronic sports tournaments such as Quakecon, Cyberathlete Professional League and the Electronic Sports World Cup.
Quake III Arena features an advanced AI with five difficulty levels which can accommodate both a beginner and an advanced player, though they usually do not pose a challenge to high-tier or competitive players.
Quake III Arena's multiplayer-focused development led to it developing a large community of competitive players and like its predecessors it was used extensively in professional electronic sports tournaments.
In competitive Quake III Arena there are two distinct gameplays, often referred to as 'rulesets', the out-of-the-box Quake III Arena game, also known as vanilla Quake 3 (VQ3), and the CPM ruleset of the Challenge Pro Mode Arena mod.
Each bot has its own, often humorous, 'personality', expressed as scripted lines that are triggered to simulate real player chat. If the player were to type certain phrases the bots may respond, typing "You bore me" might cause one of the bots to reply "You should have been here 3 hours ago!". Each bot has a number of alternative lines to reduce the repetition of bot chatter.
The Gladiator bots from Quake II were ported to Quake III and incorporated into the game by its creator - Jean Paul van Waveren, aka Mr. Elusive. Bot chat lines were written by R. A. Salvatore, Seven Swords and Steve Winter. Xaero, the hardest opponent in the game, was based on the Gladiator bot Zero. The bot Hunter appears on magazine covers in the later id game Doom 3.
The following competitions have held Quake 3 events:
- Cyberathlete Amateur League
- Cyberathlete Professional League
- Electronic Sports World Cup
- World Cyber Games