Quake Champions is a simple game at its heart, take the classic Quake 3 Arena gameplay focusing on quick weapon, armor and health pickups as well as fast placed gameplay leveraging rocket jumps and twisty corridors and add some unique powers depending on the character you choose.
I am probably dating myself but back in the early 2000s I played a lot of Quake 3 Arena, I mean a metric ton of it. I played so much I managed to convince my work at the time to invest in a few copies for the PCs in our lounge so we could play the game on our breaks. The game had some sort of secret sauce injected into its DNA that compelled you to play over and over again in a time where there were no loot boxes, item drops or customizations. Now in 2017, Id Software is trying to recapture the magic with Quake Champions, a game built on the speed and mayhem of the original classics but injected with some of the custom hero mechanics from games like Overwatch and Team Fortress 2. The result is a game that felt as fluid and manic as the classic title, but with a nice layer of additional strategy thanks to the Champions featured in the game.
In Quake Champions, each Champion has one unique power that lasts for a short time, some include the ability to see through walls for a short time, becoming invisible and immune and a bull rush. I was expecting the game to play much differently depending on the hero, and in a way it did but not in as overwhelming a way as Overwatch. In Quake Champions some heroes will be tougher or faster than other but not in a major way, plus while all characters start with specific choices of weapons all are available to be picked up in the field. In the end this resulted in a frantic fast paced experience where abilities make a difference but do not overpower the experience.
It is obvious when playing the game that it was built to be fast, Id Software proudly boasts the unlocked frame rate, support for 120hz and classic Quake speeds which are rare in this day and age of tactical FPS games. In playing the demo at PAX East I had to re-adjust my style to deal with just how fast the game can flow, items are all over the place as are new weapons and armor pieces, after a short while I fell back into a familiar rhythm, collect some armor, find the rocket launcher or shotgun, try and snag the quad damage and frag as many competitors as possible. I confess I fell in the middle of the pile in the end, but the experience was great all the same.
Quake Champions will launch with an interesting business model, there will be a free to play option where you get to choose the neutral character Ranger and experience every map or feature of the game. Alternatively you can choose to buy the full title and get all the Champions unlocked from the start, even if you choose free to play Favor can be earned in-game that allows you to buy backpacks for Rune challenges or unlock other characters for a fixed time. I would imagine that they will eventually enable the ability to buy specific characters or backpacks ad hoc in the future but so far they have announced the two models. Regardless of how you choose to get the game, F2P and pay players will be on an even playing field and can compete together with no restrictions aside from available Champions. An interesting and surprisingly consumer friendly approach for Bethesda, but one that is appreciated.
Quake Champions looks to be a great experience once it is released, and I really enjoyed my time with the demo. The game looked and played great and the speed they have injected into the game was palpable and oh so satisfying when I was bouncing around the map looking for my next victim. Quake Champions will be entering Closed Beta shortly with sign ups being accepted right now and will be released sometime in 2017 after an extended Beta period.