Bethesda and id Software did the impossible last year, revitalising DOOM in a way that no one was truly expecting. Its fast-paced shooting married modern design principles with the old tenets that have helped it remain relative for decades, producing a single-player campaign that’s the equivalent of a really good meal. You know you probably shouldn’t, but you simply can’t help yourself from having another bite.
Its multiplayer then was the opposite end of that spectrum. Leaning too heavily on skeletons created by the likes of Call of Duty, DOOM’s multiplayer lacked the fast, arena-styled combat that many might have been expecting from it. Flash forward a year, and Quake Champions is here to try and fill that gap. It’s latest beta test is finally allowing some footage to leak out, but there’s only one thing you need to know. Quake Champions is fast. Quake Champions is chaotic. Quake Champions is, at its core, Quake.
Although the beta only featured three game modes (two of which are the standard free for all and team versions of deathmatch), it doesn’t take long to see just how faithful Champions is to its source material. Its maps are twisting and turning, quickly jumping from mildly open areas inviting a handful of players to hop and die within, to more claustrophobic, rocket launcher dangerous corridors ready to have their walls splattered with your blood. Weapons litter the maps in numbers, sticking to the classics. There’s the standard issued machine, nail and shotguns, along with classic rocket launchers, lightning guns and the ever-dangerous railgun.
Gameplay is breakneck fast, and it’s easy to see why Champions is being kept as a PC exclusive for the time being. Its shooting is tuned for the fast movement only a mouse can provide, making players easy targets if they’re not bouncing around and swinging the camera wildly to keep foes in sight. It’s a pace that’s unsurprisingly difficult to keep up with at the start (especially if you haven’t been sticking with legacy titles like Quake Live), but it’s one that’s inviting to learn. Quake Champions only really needs you to point and shoot – but it’s emphasis on movement and precision make even this simple task something that you really want to sink your teeth into.
The Champions moniker isn’t lazily slapped on to differentiate this new title. Although it sticks tightly to gameplay of the past, Quake Champions injects some modern flair with the introduction of different player characters for you to choose from. Each character comes equipped with a specific ability, which can be used somewhat infrequently during matches. The Ranger, for example, can launch a ball of lighting that can be teleported to after a brief period. Nyx, a nimbler assassin styled Champion, can turn invisible and avoid all damage for an even shorter time, while a more brutish Champion such as Scale Bearer is able to charge forward and turn enemies into a thick red paste against walls.
These abilities feature lengthy cooldowns which makes their effectiveness and use within games far less substantial than you might expect. What plays a larger role are statistics. Each champion bears a variation of base health, armour total potential and movement speed, which impact the way you play far more than their inherent abilities. The Scale Bearer might be able to soak up more damage, but a faster moving Ranger might find it easier to land a rocket on his head.
The limited beta gives a glimpse into newer game modes that hone in on Champion differences too. Duel pits two players against each other, after each selects three Champions to build a meta strong roster. Player picks alternate similarly to Dota 2 or League of Legends in competitive mode, suggesting that Bethesda expects more competitively minded players to really think about how their three choices counter their opponent.
These gameplay tweaks come at a price though. Quake Champions is being modelled as free-to-play, and the beta gave a good look at how some of those system work. Two different currencies manage your access to Champions. One, which is purchased with real world cash, allows you to purchase Champions outright. Another, earned through play, only offers rental periods, with the max allowing me to take out a Champion for 24 hours. A third currency is present, which ties into the plethora of cosmetic options on offer for each Champion. An assortment of loot boxes available for purchase to feed into this as well.
These sorts of features are far from set in stone, so it’s hard to say just how well the economy of it all works within a grander scheme of things. And it matters less still when Quake Champions gameplay just feels more in touch with its fast gunplay instead of its Champion abilities. There’s still some niggles that the final product will need to overcome, specifically pertaining to spawn points and less than optimum pings for players anywhere in the southern hemisphere (trying to hit anything with a rocket with a 200ms ping is troublesome). But Quake Champions is first and foremost fun, and fun for the reasons Quake has always been. Bloody, frantic first-person shooting that will have you begging to just play one more match.
Last Updated: May 2, 2017