Quake Champions Beta Review – By An Australian Gamer
Written by Nick Petrou
A child sails down a gleaming, white isle. Peering down upon him are video game cases - hundreds of them, all begging for his attention. He smiles and glides, spinning in an infinity of color. But which shall he choose? There are so many... The child takes a sharp turn at the end of the shining isle in his silver, shopping chariot. Before him burns a golden light, which fades slowly as his watering eyes adjust. When the brightness is bearable, the boy sees a glorious game case reading "Quake Champions" in a powerful and foreboding text...
Now that might be a bit over dramatic, but it illustrates so well the excitement I felt when first playing id Software's Quake Champions beta. We are all children on the inside.
Arena Shooters Back In The Good Old Days
I'll be honest, and this might show my age a little, most of my arena shooter experience in "the good old days" was split-screen with friends and single player matches against bots.
I played FPS games like Volition's Red Faction and Epic Games' Unreal Tournament 2004, and it was great... but I never knew the depth of the genre, and I never knew of Quake. Upon conceiving online gaming, I was too busy with Call of Duty and other FPS games to recall the screen-cheating, bot-slaying glory of my youth, or explore the online communities of arena shooters. They seemed to have passed me by.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a nostalgic spark came into existence...
The Kick That I Didn't Know I Needed
I am talking about the latest entry into my favourite game franchise of all time, DOOM. (I am a definite id software fanboy, if you can't tell from one of my previous articles on shooting games.) Initially, I was latched into the insurmountable embrace that was the hype surrounding the DOOM (2016) single player campaign. For me, that is what DOOM games have always been about... never really its multiplayer aspects. However, I did learn that this new DOOM would feature an arena shooter multiplayer experience, and this got me excited, got me thinking about the good old days.
And after playing it (once completing the single player campaign, of course), I can honestly say that I walked away with a legitimate smile... but there was something missing... or, more accurately, there was too much there; i.e. DOOM had failed to modernize the classic arena shooter genre by adding too much stuff, like load-outs. I think, in the end, the multiplayer experience prevented DOOM from getting a much higher rating among game reviews.
But to the point, I was re-introduced to the genre... enough to get me looking for modern and popular arena shooters. I found nothing, and I kind of gave up. I mean, its not like there is a shortage of games out there to get me by.
Light In The Dark
I don't remember exactly when I heard about Quake Champions... and I kind of let it slide, as there was no release date and I was preoccupied by the tragic things I do when I am not gaming. Then I saw that the open beta had been announced. I was hyped to say the least, but I wasn't sure if us Australian gamers would be allowed a taste. And I am sorely used to drawing the short straw as an Aussie gamer, so I kind of let it slide... again.
Then, about a week ago, my friend messaged me: "Quake open beta. Australian server. Get on." That was all I needed. I said: "Farewell girlfriend, it was nice knowing you." And then proceeded to initiate the take-off sequence of my flying car and dispatch for home. I played for eight straight hours. And that night as I slept, I dreamt only of Quake.
So What Is Quake Champions?
Running, gunning, jumping, mauling, exploding fun. Quake Champions is the very definition of speed.
Put simply, it is an first person arena shooting game. You run (or should I say jump) about in various maps/arenas, picking up guns, health, armor, and various other buffs, to ultimately kill your enemies, complete objectives, and win the game. Quake Champions is all this, but it has a twist to it too... one that many veterans of the Quake franchise were/are skeptical about: champions. Rather than entering a match of Quake as a basic, universal character, you select a champion, which has one or two passive abilities, an active ability, and specific health, armor, and movement speed statistics.
QUAKE CHAMPIONS BETA REVIEW
Before I divulge my personal experiences with this action-packed return to a classic genre, I want you to understand that this review is more about how the game makes me feel. After all, gaming is about having fun. And if I am to be honest, I have not had this much fun playing any video game in a very, very long time.
I've got to get a bit of a rant out of the way first...
QUAKE CHAMPIONS BETA REVIEW: A QUICK RANT
Looking at other Quake Champions reviews, I found that many of them remark upon matchmaking and connectivity issues. It appears that people are having issues finding a match. I have yet to experience this problem... bearing in mind I play on the Australian server in Sydney, if that at all makes a difference. As for connection problems... maybe I have experienced a tiny bit of lag in a couple of games, but I do believe that is to be expected in a beta. Overall, my ping has always been pretty stable, as far as I can tell.
Also, people seem to be a bit upset about the in-game shop. Although the shop is limited in the beta and you can't yet purchase "platinum" with real-life money, you have, for now, the option of renting champions using the entirely in-game currency, "favor". I don't understand how this is at all a problem. Favor is so easy to acquire, and I have not yet been so short on it that I cannot afford to hire my favourite champion, Sorlag.
I suppose the existing free-to-play model might become a bit of an issue if you wish to hire multiple champions simultaneously. But at that point (once the game has come out of beta), you are simply a tight-ass if you can't help the developers out and throw in a bit of cash to unlock the champions you want with platinum. Also, through leveling up, I have unlocked a further two champions... and that was totally free. Be realistic, guys, the game is free, but that doesn't mean that people haven't sweat and cried to get it to you. Buying the odd bit of platinum is an easy way to say thanks.
QUAKE CHAMPIONS BETA REVIEW: CHAMPIONS
First of all, lets address the rocket-launcher wielding reptile in the room: the champions.
A lot of people have been saying that implementing champions is some sort of attempt to feed off the popularity of the hero shooter genre. In a way, I guess this is kind of true, but the focus of the game is still the arena shooter aspect, not the champions. From my experience so far, it seems that champion selection makes only a slight difference to performance, and that most people that are dominating are doing so because they have great aim and fantastic movement. For me, I find that the implementation of champions simply adds a bit of flavor, and only very slightly detracts from the style of the genre.
It feels great to spew out a ball of acid onto a fight between two enemies in a deathmatch while I clean them both up with a heavy machine gun. I even like being able to customize my champion a bit too. It allows me some form of identity, which I think can definitely be a good thing, especially if you love a specific champion and want to kit them out to prove it.
QUAKE CHAMPIONS BETA REVIEW: GUNPLAY
Even though many other reviews have made negative comments about matchmaking, game connections, and the champions, all of them seem to agree that the gunplay is absolutely on point. It truly is.
No reloading, barely any aiming-down-sight, carrying seven weapons... this is what I am all about. Sometimes games shouldn't try and be realistic; in fact, I respect more a game that doesn't try and pretend to be. So far, every weapon has been an absolute joy to use. They all feel unique, all suited to specific roles, and I think they all look great too (I admit, I am a bit of a sucker for sci-fi weapons). I found that the skill required to use each weapon is pretty on point as well. None of the weapons are necessarily easy to get kills with. They all require precise aiming and/or timing; more so because the hit-boxes in this game are a lot tighter than many other FPS.
If I had to pick my favourite gun so far it would certainly be the rocket launcher. Simply because it is not only a weapon but a tool as well.
If I had to state my best weapon it would definitely be the heavy machine gun. I seem to get the most kills with this one for some reason. Maybe because I can combo it well with Sorlag's acid vom.
QUAKE CHAMPIONS BETA REVIEW: MOVEMENT
The pace is amazing. I am on edge the whole time I am playing - constantly trying to out-shoot and out-wit my opponents... and constantly trying to smoothly traverse the arena. What I mean by that last point is that, even though you may not be in combat for a second or two, you still have to think about pickups like health and armor, and more importantly, the quad-damage buff. To do this effectively, players need to master "strafe jumping" and "rocket jumping", both aspects of the game that, for the moment, I honestly suck at. It just adds that extra element that many modern FPS games don't have. There is never a dull moment with Quake Champions. Straight up: it is bloody fun.
QUAKE CHAMPIONS BETA REVIEW: ACCESSIBILITY
What I mean by this is essentially how easy it is to get into the mindset to play Quake Champions. If I was to play a match of Overwatch, I have to prepare myself to communicate and work with my team. With Quake (at least in the casual mode available currently), I can jump into a match, worrying solely about my own survival, whilst blasting music and having the time of my life. I think this type of accessibility will be great for players that can only dedicate a small amount of their lives to gaming. I guess it just requires less commitment. And personally, I am fricken sick of teammate toxicity in other games, so Quake is a well-earned breath of fresh air.
QUAKE CHAMPIONS BETA REVIEW: THE VERDICT
DOOM's not-so-great arena-styled multiplayer buttered me up for a great arena shooter. I find it so fitting that such a game has been provided to me by the same developers. Quake Champions has been the game that I didn't know that I needed. I have fallen in love with it... to the point where my girlfriend has become jealous.
Yes, the game can definitely improve; for instance, they can sort out these fabled matchmaking and connectivity issues that no one I have spoken to has been having. But it is in beta. Finding aspects for improvement is the purpose of a beta, is it not?
After spewing out my qualitative feedback on the Quake beta, I am finding it rather difficult to apply a numerical figure in summary... My score must acknowledge that the game is in beta, and allow space for improvement. So, for now... for me... its a solid 8/10.
Release Date And The Quake Community
The time between the closing of the beta and the actual release of the game will seem eternal. Especially when an actual release date has yet to be announced. What will I do? Where will I get my arena shooter fix? Has Quake Champions ruined my appetite for other video games?
I have watched a lot of Quake Champions YouTube videos and streams. From this I can discern one thing: people want to re-ignite the Quake community. I for one, am all for it. I will do my very best to oxygenate the gaming world with nourishing molecules of Quake, a most welcome modern take on a kick-ass old-school genre. There is one particular YouTuber, Rocket Jump Ninja, who has an undying passion for the Quake franchise. His videos are super informative and incredibly spirited, and if I haven't convinced you to at least give Quake Champions a go, I am sure he will.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope your attempts at strafe jumps and rocket jumps are more successful than mine.