In today’s gaming world first person shooters are one of the most popular methods for challenging yourself and others to high-speed twitch-fests of skill and mayhem; in fact, fps games can often seem to dominate the market. Among the myriad of different titles available to sate any gamer’s hunger for first person anarchy, there are, of course, a few titles and companies that remain iconic in the genre. id Software has long been a company whose name is synonymous with award winning and even controversial titles such as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and of course, Quake. The Quake series is well-known for creating a multiplayer environment of pure havoc and blood pulsing entertainment, and Quake Champions holds true to that legacy.
Right from the start, veteran Quake players will feel at home with QC as the art, environments, and game-play feed into the series’ iconic atmosphere. The opening screen gives the player a choice of seven very different champions, each with a quick bio that gives a brief glimpse at the champion’s origin and motivation. Each champion also has its own strengths and weakness, including a unique special ability that can really make or break success in a frag-fest. Each champion also has a plethora of appearance customization including apparel and tinting that can be unlocked with a (currently) small variety of loot boxes that can be obtained either through completing challenges and earning favor points or through purchasing in-game currency.
While a champion starts out with a single pre-built set for their appearance, there are a few pre-built sets immediately available for unlocking for each champion with others that can be revealed through specific achievements. All of which can either be used as a set or simply as preferred pieces that allow for unique customizations according to the player’s preference. Acquiring duplicates will also provide addons for each piece of gear. The individual pieces are broken down into the three categories of Headgear, Torso, and Legs with an extra option for vanity items. Weapon appearance can also be customized to further individualize your Champion. Currently, there are 36 different tints to be earned that give even more options for armor and weapon customization. Collecting Lore Scrolls will also unlock sets of apparel as well as further information on the respective champion, and are stashed in breakable vases throughout the arenas, so make sure to keep your bloodshot eyes open for them.
The Rune challenge system appears to be another way to obtain different armor tints. Fulfilling the challenges requires purchasing loot boxes that have a chance to drop the Rune challenges. Completing these challenges will award you with a designated type and number of loot boxes and a Rune that will be a part of the larger sets of Runes.
In-game currencies consist of Favor, which you can use to purchase backpacks (the least of the loot boxes), Shards, which you accrue automatically when you get duplicate items, beyond what is needed to unlock that piece’s add-ons, from your loot boxes and are used to purchase pieces or sets of the champion’s alternate appearances, and Platinum, which can be purchased online with real world money. Platinum is used to purchase Reliquary and Chest loot boxes; however, Platinum is not the only way to get Reliquaries and Chests as they can be earned by achieving champion levels and challenges in-game.
There are eight weapons currently in the game ranging from a heavy machine gun to a railgun and don’t forget about the melee option which is a type of propeller blade mechanism and is surprisingly effective. While all are great fun to use, certain balancing disparities become obvious in gameplay (things like a rocket launcher that reloads faster than the shotgun, railgun, or tribolt). These issues are only a minor annoyance, though, and are not likely to break the game.
Gameplay is smooth, quick, and unforgiving as the player finds his/herself in desperate firefights and frantically searching the arena for weapons and items that will boost their chances of survival. The arenas themselves are beautifully rendered and diverse, accurately emulating the elements of horror and otherworldly depravity that the Quake series is known for. The quality of the arena may, however, go somewhat unnoticed as there is no time in the matches to “stop and smell the carnage”. Choices of arenas are somewhat limited, and one can only hope that full release and future updates will add to those options.
After champion customization, the player is given the choice of going through a tutorial level and watching tutorial videos or jumping straight into the action with four different “quick play” game types, a custom game, and ranked matches (currently not available). The provided tutorial videos are comprehensive and do a decent job of familiarizing even non-veteran players with the controls and mechanics. Tutorial missions are currently restricted to a single Basic Training mission, with two other missions locked out. The “quick play” game types consist of the traditional Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, Duel (one on one matches that are currently unavailable), and Sacrifice (a type of capture the flag that consists of capturing the loose soul and guarding it while it is properly sacrificed).
Quake Champions, even in early access form, is solid, well-developed, and explosively fun. It’s capable of evoking strong nostalgia for veteran Quake players while updating to new mechanics as well. While in its current form it may be somewhat limited, QC still promises many hours of cathartic pandemonium amongst friends, and I cannot wait to experience the full and final product.