I remember playing Quake III Arena to death on the Dreamcast back in the day. The arena shooter formula was both original and refreshing. Nothing was more fun than running, jumping and bouncing around a map while shooting down other players. In 2017, the shooter genre is much more saturated than it was back then and the expectations of gamers can alienate any shooter that’s trying something different.
In its beta form, Quake Champions feels like one of those games. Its a game you’ll have to re-calibrate to enjoy, unless you were a heavy Quake player back in the day. You’ll have to forget everything you’ve come to expect about the modern shooter and adopt a completely new style of play to get the best out of what Quake Champions has to offer.
Quake Champions has a list of characters to choose from; some of them are returning characters from previous games. You begin each match with a chosen weapon and must navigate around the map to collect pickups that provide you with an advantage.
At first I wasn’t conditioned for the style of play Quake Champions presents. It felt awkward coming from other multiplayer shooters. The gameplay is so fast paced that engaging enemies becames a case of running into them and shooting aimlessly at their hitbox until you get the frag. This isn’t a game where you simply line up a shot and shoot. Your characters have no weight to them so they bounce around, making it difficult to lock on to anyone. Movement is floaty, so you’ll just have to get used to a more twitchy style of play to make the most of it. Its not particularly a formula I enjoy, but there is appeal for those who recognize that this is what Quake was known for.
The beta offered three different modes. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Duel Mode. The first two are self-explanatory, but Duel Mode is a little more interesting in its concept. In Duel Mode, a match is split up into a best of three rounds format. Each player must pick three different champions and the round lasts until one player has lost each of their three champions. If the time limit runs out then the player who has the most champions left will win by default. When the next round begins, the players who have one or two champions left resume until another player loses all of their champions. The winner of the entire match will be a player who has won two rounds. This game mode in particular added something original to Quake Champions that I could enjoy.
I never had any technical issues playing Quake Champions during the beta. From a technical standpoint the gameplay was smooth and ran at a stable framerate. For reference, I was running on an i5 processor with a GTX 770 GPU. I also experience no latency issues.
Each character in the beta felt somewhat unique, and each came with their own set of special abilities. Characters have both passive abilities and special abilities; with the latter being activated by the user. There also seems to be a ton of customization options for each champion. I didn’t spend too much time looking at all the different options, but it’s definitely impressible that you have so many customizable options for characters that are premade.
One thing that I believe could be improved is the layout of the menu system. For example, on the main menu, icons litter the top and bottom of the screen, making it feel a little convoluted. Another gripe I had was that even after queuing for a match, I had to click on a button again to confirm that I indeed wanted to be put into the match once one was found. I get that this may help filter out players who queue and then go away from keyboard, but for someone who just wants to play the game it puts another step in between you and the action. Ultimately, I feel that the UI could be vastly improved to make the experience more user friendly.
What’s great about Quake Champions is that it will be released with a free-to-play model that gives you access to one character (Ranger). So this means you can try the game and see if it’s right for you before splurging money on unlocking other characters. There’s also a loot based system for you to unlock cosmetics and collectables for your champions. The downside is that this also means the Duel Mode is pretty much a pay-to-play mode. As a free player of Quake Champions, you’ll also be able to spend in game money on renting other characters for a limited time, but if you’re willing to invest that much time it’s probably better to just buy the full package.
Considering that Quake Champions is being made for a dedicated PC audience, I’m confident that it will see the kind of success that Bethesda wants it to. The nostalgic appeal is there, and it will satisfy those thirsty for a chance at returning to the classic arena shooter series. However, this beta makes me feel as though Quake Champions may not necessarily appeal to gamers who play an abundance of other shooters on the market. Even if that’s the case, I’m confident that Quake Champions is still capable of gaining a strong community. I’m eager to see how the full game turns out on its release.