Quake Cham­pi­ons

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QuakeCham­pi­ons sits un­com­fort­ably be­tween two eras. There is some­thing im­pres­sively and ad­dic­tively old-school about the map de­sign and the speed of play that makes Quake Cham­pi­ons feel like a blast of high-res­o­lu­tion Quake 3 Arena, but there is also a fine spray of un­wel­come mod­ern fea­tures that muddy the af­fair some­what. In­stead of all the char­ac­ters be­ing noth­ing but model swaps, Quake Cham­pi­ons goes the Hero Shooter route and gives each “Cham­pion” their own spe­cial pow­ers. And then there are the ubiq­ui­tous loot boxes with cos­metic pieces. Rather than tak­ing over the game, how­ever, these mod­ern ad­di­tions just feel out of place and more than a lit­tle un­wel­come. At its core, Quake Cham­pi­ons is still Quake.

For those who never had the plea­sure of play­ing Quake 3: Arena, pic­ture an ul­tra-fast shooter with ex­cel­lent maps, reg­u­lar and re­li­able weapon and pickup spawn points, ex­cel­lent, straight­for­ward weapons and an ab­so­lutely level play­ing field. With the ex­cep­tion of the level play­ing field, Quake Cham­pi­ons de­liv­ers on the ba­sic Quake

premise, al­beit with a new coat of paint. There is a new vis­ual style in Cham­pi­ons that is ex­cel­lent. Rather than be­ing the same dark or som­bre colours as the maps, the weapons and pick­ups are now high­lighted in bright, colours. This not only helps when it comes to ac­tu­ally see­ing a pickup, it also lets you know at a glance what pick­ups are avail­able even when the de­tails aren’t ob­vi­ous – you see red you know there is a rocket launcher avail­able if you’re fast enough. These brightly coloured pick­ups also seem to serve as bea­cons for fire­fights, draw­ing play­ers to­gether to squab­ble over who gets the prize. The new en­gine, a com­bi­na­tion of id Tech and Saber In­ter­ac­tive tech is ex­cel­lent. While it may not be the pret­ti­est game in the world, the en­gine seems to be ex­tremely scal­able while still main­tain­ing a high frame rate.

Al­though the great­est of maps, Long­est Yard, hasn’t made an ap­pear­ance in Quake Cham­pi­ons as yet (there is still time for us to hope), the se­lec­tion of maps in early access does give us a good in­di­ca­tion that the de­sign is still great, giv­ing play­ers enough open spa­ces, jump pads and cor­ri­dors to suit their cho­sen ap­proach

Leav­ing aside the loot boxes and the ev­er­p­re­sent threat of mi­cro­trans­ac­tions in games that fea­ture them, the only real prob­lem with Quake Cham­pi­ons is the fact that char­ac­ters are no longer just dif­fer­ent meshes on the same base. Each char­ac­ter has their own health and ar­mour lev­els, move­ment speed and spe­cial abil­i­ties, but none of it feels ei­ther bal­anced or ul­ti­mately nec­es­sary. Char­ac­ters look to be bal­anced around grouped team com­bat, with char­ac­ters with heal­ing abil­i­ties (that re­quire you to stand still, some­thing not ad­vis­able in Quake), tanks, high speed but vul­ner­a­ble flankers and the like. With the ex­cep­tion of a few char­ac­ters though, like B.J. Blazkow­icz and his dual wield­ing (dou­bling dam­age out­put for six sec­onds) or Scale­bearer and his Bull­rush (a mas­sive dam­age charge at­tack), the spe­cial abil­i­ties feel un­der­pow­ered. Un­der­pow­ered to the point that many play­ers seem to for­get about them al­to­gether. There is no need for mod­ern trap­pings if they don’t add any­thing to the ex­pe­ri­ence. DANIEL WILKS

Quake gets a mod­ern up­date whether you like it or not.

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