DEVELOPER ID SOFTWARE • P UBLISHER BETHESDA SOFTWORKS • D UE early acceSS www.quake.com
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