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This article appeared in Quake II  



Will gib when health is


Attack Damage
  • Arm Hooks: 15-20
  • Tentacles: 10-15
  • Laser: 2 per hit (2023 remaster)
Found in

Quake II
The Reckoning
Call of the Machine


A vicious cyborg abomination with life-stealing tentacles protruding from its chest during attack.

—Quake 2 Manual

In Quake II, Brains is a strange Strogg creature, constructed from a grim mixture of human and mechanical body parts. It has a small stereo-camera in place of a head, two arm hooks, multiple hooked tentacles within its opening chest cavity, and mismatched legs which cause it to lumber forward slowly and awkwardly. Brains has good durability and is equipped with a Power Screen for additional protection. It is an uncommon enemy, only being encountered in a few levels of the original Quake II campaign, first appearing in the Receiving Center in Unit 5.

In the original release of Quake II it has no ranged attacks, only being able to threaten its foes in melee. However, the mission pack The Reckoning introduces a "new" enemy called the Beta Class Brains, which was essentially an update to the original Brains giving it two new ranged attacks - a laser beam emitted from its goggles, and a long-range tentacle attack which is capable of dragging its victim into melee range.

In the 2023 remaster, all Brains were changed to match this updated version; therefore the Brains encountered in the vanilla Quake II campaign now have these two ranged attacks as well.

Behaviour and attacks

Note: this section describes the updated version of Brains in the 2023 remaster (and the original release of The Reckoning). Concerning the original Brains found in vanilla Quake II, its Tentacles are only a melee attack, and it does not have the Laser.

Tentacles: The Brains' tentacles are a shooting attack inflicting up to 15 damage. They are difficult to dodge by strafing - cover is a better defense against it. If it connects with its target, it can drag its victim into melee.

Laser: Brains may emit continuous damage laser from the goggles comprising its "head". It is a hitscan weapon which fires with almost no delay, and the Brains doesn't need to stop moving to fire it as with most other Strogg shooting attacks - he can fire it while continuing to advance. Strafing can help to avoid the damage inflicted by its laser, but the player may still take some damage - cover is a better defense.

Arm Hooks: In melee, Brains will swing twice with its hooks in succession, each strike inflicting up to 20 damage.

A Brains moves very slowly - the slowest Strogg in the game. It is equipped with a Power Screen which gives it additional protection against attacks hitting its front. Brains will sometimes duck if gunfire is aimed at its head or upper body.


  • If playing the original release of Quake II, a Brains is not much of a threat. It is very slow and has no ranged attacks, so it's a simple matter to stay out of its melee range and then it can pose no danger to you. With that in mind, any weapon will do. If you want to conserve ammo you can even use the Blaster. You can kill it more quickly by moving close enough to provoke it into making a melee attack - if it performs its tentacle attack, its power screen switches off for a moment.
  • The situation changes dramatically in the 2023 remaster (or the original version of The Reckoning), as the Brains has two new ranged attacks, both of which are effective and difficult to dodge. The laser delivers continuous damage and fires with essentially no delay or warning, and the tentacles can drag the hapless player into melee. It's best to use cover when fighting the upgraded Brains. While using cover to your advantage, the Grenade Launcher or hand grenade are the best options here - the ideal strategy is to bounce grenades off a wall to hit him without exposing yourself to his return fire, or aim close enough to his feet that you don't need to reveal yourself in the process. The main weakness of the upgraded Brains is its slow speed, so you do at least have time to find a good angle for your grenade shots as it slowly and ponderously advances towards you. If you can't get the hang of this tactic, then peek behind cover only long enough to fire a grenade directly at him, then duck back quickly. It'll take four direct grenade hits to put down a Brains, but if you can aim your grenades to explode fairly close to the Brains then it'll take a similar number.

Appearance statistics

Campaign Easy Medium Hard/Nightmare
Quake II* 15 17 19
The Reckoning* 5 8 8
Ground Zero - - -
Quake II 64 - - -
Quake II PSX - - -
Call of the Machine 11 14 16

*Originally, there was a clear distinction between the Brains found in Quake II and the Beta Class Brains found in the first expansion The Reckoning. However, with the 2023 remaster, they are now officially the same enemy - essentially all Brains have been upgraded to be the same as the Beta Class Brains.

Death Message

  • Player saw the light (Laser only)


  • Brains and the Laser Guard have the distinction of causing a special death message to be displayed when they kill a player with their laser weaponry. When a player is killed by other Strogg weaponry (including Brains' other weaponry), this does not happen; it simply says "[Player] died".
  • The Beta Class Iron Maiden, Beta Class Gladiator and Beta Class Super Tank are distinct entities from the Iron Maiden, Gladiator and Super Tank, but the Beta Class Brains from the original release of The Reckoning is simply a change to the behaviour of the original Brains. This means that if you were to launch the original release of The Reckoning and then play the vanilla Quake II campaign (by opening the console and typing "map base1") then all the Brains encountered in the Quake II campaign would be the Beta Class version, but the Iron Maidens, Gladiators and Super Tanks would still be the original versions.


Brains spotting an opponent
Brains being injured
Brains being killed