Despite appearances - specifically the vehicles, the character classes, and the open maps - this is not an attempt to make a sci-fi version of Battlefield. Nor is it, despite the name, much to do with the deathmatch tradition of Quake. It's therefore perfectly possible that fans of either of those series will be disappointed. This is, first and foremost, an Enemy Territory game.
What this means is that ETQW is a class-based first-person shooter with asymmetric, objective-based maps, quasi-realistic weapons, lashings of Quake-derived horrors, and a daunting deathmatch pace.
It is a sequel not to Quake, but to Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and the free Enemy Territory expansion that Splash Damage created for it. Most crucially, however, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is simply brimming with possibilities.
Every class has multiple weapons at their disposal from the off, and the vehicles and static weapons and turrets just add to the overall elaborate network of tactical variation within maps that are as detailed and expansive as they are visually impressive.
Although ETQW's two opposing forces have slightly different technologies and very different appearances (GDF are futurist contemporary soldiers, while Strogg are nightmare alien cyborgs) the classes nevertheless correspond and match up. It's a game where the two sides are different, and yet, on the field, fight as military equals.
The Soldier and his opposite number, the Aggressor, both have access to fast-firing assault rifles, guided rocket launchers, shotguns/nailguns for up-close, and heavy calibre support rifles. This most martial class can also plant explosives to take down the many objectives on each map, while also acting as the primary source of firepower in any battle.
The Engineer and Constructor are both lightly armed but are able to plant mines and call in defensive structures. Anti-vehicle, anti-personnel, and anti-artillery structures are all vital to holding a position, whether you're fighting for the Strogg or the GDF.
The Medic and Technician do the standard patching up and reviving stuff, with the Strogg technician able to gruesomely turn fresh enemy corpses into spawn points, and the medics able to destroy these hosts.
The Covert Ops and the evil Infiltrator take on a less familiar role, being able to hack objectives that require it, as well as using EMP to temporarily disable turrets. The Infiltrator has a flying drone which can explode near enemy targets, while the Covert Ops can create localised radar with his spy camera. These classes can also steal enemy uniforms from stricken troops, taking on a temporary disguise.
Finally, the Field Ops and Oppressors are spotters who can call in artillery support. In the outdoor sections of a map they're deadly adversaries and tend to get a lot of kills as a result of their power. The Field Ops can also drop ammo for his allies, while the Oppressor can create a super-useful energy field to shield himself and his comrades.
Add to this all the various vehicles and weapon loadout options, and you have a game that demonstrates far more diversity of martial options than anything else I've ever seen. And it's infantry-focused too - not for ETQW the problems of over-used air-power.
You'll find yourself tackling vehicles and turrets with rocket launchers, getting down and dirty at close range with grenades and assault rifles, and finding mad uses for explosives, shields and flyer drones. It's a game that provokes invention, suicidal heroics, and momentary genius. All this, however, takes place within the (beautiful) context of ETQW's objective-based maps.