Some of the earliest first person shooters, and even games as a whole, I remember playing in my youth were Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake. Ever since Bethesda has taken over the old iD Software licenses, they’ve been slowly bringing the classics into the modern era with Wolfenstein: The New Order and DOOM. Now, it’s Quake’s turn with Quake Champions, a mulitplayer experience that’s focusing on the PC roots of the franchise.
During PAX East, Bethesda had the game open to play in groups in the classic team deathmatch. I played as a new, not actually introduced officially yet, character named Slash, which bears hard similarities to Harley Quinn of DC Comics and Jinx of League of Legends fame (Note: Upon later research, not much is known about the character due to not actually being announced yet, but she was available in the PAX East 2017 Alpha Demo build). She is deemed the “Roller Queen” as her title, which is fitting and did incredibly well as a speed based character, with her very Tara Strong-ish voice and crazy attitude. She is a returning character from Quake III Arena and bears a similar style to her previous version, with some definite changes to rock that heavy Harley Quinn vibe now.
One thing that sets this Quake apart from its predecessors is the Team Fortress 2 style gameplay, giving each character their own special abilities and application in combat. Each character has their own abilities and stats, as well as a personal background that explains why they’re there. Slash had the ability to use “Plasma Trail”, which does damage to enemies behind her when she uses it. Her plasma trail allows damage to be done in her path as she runs, as she’s a very fast character. Think along the lines of Sonic The Hedgehog, when Sonic runs, he leaves a blue blur behind him. If that blur had the ability to harm enemies that were following him, that’d be like the Plasma Trail on Slash. As her speed is very high, this is great to do circles around enemies to make them run into the Trail.
There were plenty of pick ups during the chaotic gameplay with traditional health and armor, as well as different types of guns. I remember picking up machine guns and rifles as I ran, as well as dual pistols. The match lasted about 10 to 15 minutes total, but was enjoyable from start to finish. The visuals were easy on the eyes and there were plenty of things to look at in the background in between being blown up. I noticed a castle-like feel to the particular stage I got to play, similar to the classic levels of the original Quake.
After I played a full match, I got to sit down with Matt Charles, Senior Producer at ID Software, to talk about Quake Champions for a quick chat.
When asked, he informed me that the game is mainly going to have a PC focus, though “never say never” to the idea of a console port. Their focus is 100% on multiplayer, with no campaign being added. He also hinted at a Closed Beta for the game “in the coming weeks” when asked, and since then, they have announced an official Closed Beta, which can be signed up for by anyone on www.quake.com.
During PAX East, there were a total of nine Champions that could be played and it was confirmed that there will be nine in the upcoming closed beta. The game was announced this week to also be free-to-play as Ranger (the original Quake Guy from Quake), giving an option to buy the other characters. All maps are open in the free-to-play option though, with the option to buy all Champions at launch or buy them a la carte, akin to Killer Instinct. In addition to the launch characters, additional Champions will be added later on, similar to how League of Legends or Smite expand their rosters. I was assured that each one has a reason to be there and is totally unique, not just wedged in for no reason or to just add more Champions for the sake of it.
As an old school Quake fan, I knew all the differences between the different games, with Quake and Quake 3 Arena being part of the same world, and Quake 2 and Quake 4 being sequels to each other and a separate story altogether. I asked Matt about the inspirations for Quake Champions, and where it fits into the overall Quake universe. “Quake Champions started by looking at Quake Live and how we could add modern gameplay elements on top of it. In particular, I’m meaning Champion Abilities,” he began. “We wanted to also add the Quake 1 Lovecraftian/Elder Gods lore on top of it all. We were looking at Quake 3 being really close to people’s hearts and wanted to keep that feel as well.”
Quake III Arena has a storied past and is held in high regard by nostalgic players, carrying on that tradition and quality into Quake Champions. With the focus on multiplayer arena battling, Quake Champions takes the best parts of the Quake mythos, style, and gameplay and shakes them up with the modern arena-style death matches players come to expect out of more contemporary shooters like Overwatch and Team Fortress 2.
Personally, I am excited to get back into the game and try more of the characters, some returning and some brand new. We can expect that Closed Beta within a couple weeks (no official date yet), but the game has been confirmed to be free-to-play (or Freemium, if you so prefer) when it officially comes out later this year.