Quake Champions just had a closed beta weekend and I got a chance to run around, shoot, humiliate and well, die a lot in the new arena-style shooter. The good news? Quake is back, baby.
Quake Champions felt like taking a trip down memory lane, back to a computer lab at school with a readily available network. We would all gather for some deathmatch action, until getting kicked out for making too much noise as the matches got exciting and sometimes heated. Things haven’t changed in Quake Champions, in that regard at least:
Do you remember the speed of Quake? There is something about the way you move in the game, always moving, weaving, jumping and strafing that this new game captures perfectly. Rocket jumps, launch pads, teleporters mean you need to keep your head on a swivel if you want to stay alive. Not that it will help you if the enemy gets the rail gun and gibs you while you are in mid-jump on a launch pad.
Weapons, armour, health packs and ammo are scattered around the levels and knowing where they are is just as important as before. Did you know that wing is where the rocket launcher spawns? Better be prepared to dodge, weave and jump as you arrive. Super Shotgun spawn? Watch your corners and use a weapon that will kill them before they get too close. Well, that is the theory, anyway. Add in speed, people zipping around the map with teleporters and dropping your equipped weapon on death and you often have no idea what to expect around the corner. Things are just too fast to work it out ahead of time, so sometimes you just need to adapt as you go.
Remember the hero from the original Quake? The Ranger is back, but he isn’t the only person in the roster. Quake Champions isn’t just a bunch of models with different skins and hit boxes. Each Champion has a different health, armour and speed value, on top of different size and shape hit boxes and unique abilities. The Ranger, for example, starts with 100 health and 25 armour with a speed of 320. His passive ability allows him to take 25% less self damage, which means he is a perfect Champion for those who love to rocket jump. His active ability fires off a glowing death ball hurts enemies in its path and if left for a few seconds, it explodes. The best part of the orb is activating it before it explodes, which teleports you to the orb for a nice tele-frag.
Another Champion I really took a shining to is Clutch, the crazy automaton. He is big and healthy, starting at 150 health and 50 armour. He is slower than Ranger, at 280 movespeed, but he makes up for this in two ways: Clutch takes 20% less damage when standing still, and if he moves in a straight line he speeds up. His active ability is Barrier, which puts up a shield for Clutch that deflects damage and prevents enemies from getting too close. The caveat is that the shield lowers with Clutch shoots, so you want to get a railgun or a rocket launcher before you shield, aim and destroy someone’s day.
The bigger powerups, like large armour packs and the vaunted Quad Damage buff have timers that show how close they are to respawning, so you know whether to hang around in an area or go looking for soft targets. When the announcer mentions the Quad Damage spawning in a few seconds, get ready for a lot of activity in that area of the map. Personally I like raining rockets on the power-up so that the first person to grab it has to pay a dear price for it.
Besides Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, which are at most 10 minutes long, the game has a much more tactical duel mode. This reminds me of a MOBA draft, where two players duke it out. Each player picks 3 Champions to take each other on with, with the pick order going 1-2-2-1. There are no bans (though it would be great if you could). Then each player picks a Champion to start the first round. This pick is blind, so pick a balanced champion. If you die, you pick from your remaining champions, while the victor carries over their armour and weaponry to the next round. The first person to exhaust their three Champions loses, making Champion choice pretty tactical in this mode.
The game has been built with the free-to-play crowd in mind and there were three currencies in the game. The first seems to be the premium currency you fork over cash for, which lets you add Champions to your roster permanently. The second currency is earned by completing daily quests and you can ‘hire’ a champion with this currency, or buy loot boxes. The third currency is for crafting cosmetics, allowing you to scrap cosmetics or duplicates for champions you don’t intend to play so that your Ranger can have the best helmet in all the lands.
Lag-wise I found the rocket launcher to be iffy at times and sometimes I would feel like I just filled a face with a shotgun blast, but I also had one of the worst weekends when it came to internet hassles, so I don’t want to peg too much on the game when my ISP is also being suspect. Still, I could kill people and my shots seemed to land often enough that I didn’t feel frustrated. Gibbing with the railgun is just still so satisfying.
My favourite thing so far is how well the game runs. The game immediately picked up with ultra wide monitor resolution no problem (something a lot of PC games battle with, sadly) and my GTX 960 was able to handle everything the game was throwing at it. This game has been built with 120hz in mind and it runs smoother than the blood coursing through the levels. Now can this game launch please? I need to shoot my friends. I mean play with them on a team, yeah.