Quake Champions is a free to play arena shooter FPS developed for PC by id Software. The game was published in August of 2018 as early access title. Unfortunately, like many others, it got stuck in early access ever since. But before we go any further, I want to point out that I have been playing Quake games since 2005 and that it is my most favorite franchise in the world. With that being said, let’s jump right into the review and see if it’s still worth playing in 2020.
If you never heard of Quake, then you must have lived under a rock, or you are just very young. Quake was developed and published in 1996 by id Software, creators of Doom and Wolfenstein. It was one of the first full 3D FPS games ever, and it started an entire genre of games called arena shooters. Quake was also one of the first e-sport games ever. So yeah, it was a kind of a big deal.
You can still play Quake today and for free by downloading free to play Quake World client. The community is still alive and often organizes online tournaments.
Quake 3 Arena
My first Quake game was Quake 3 Arena which was published in 1999. I discovered it relatively late, in 2005, but I instantly fell in love with it. A combination of sci-fi environments with gothic elements was magical for me, but even more important than that was the amazing gameplay. It had a unique game movement that included tricks such as strafe jumping, circle jumping, rocket jumping, plasma climbing… It also had a perfect variation of weapons of which each had a specific purpose. Also, it had hundreds of maps, game modes such as Duel, TDM, CTF, Deathmatch and if all that wasn’t enough, it had support for mods. The modding community was huge, and many popular mods are still being played even today. Some of the popular mods were: CPMA, Defrag, Excessive Plus and many others.
In 2010, more than 10 years after the release of Quake 3, id Software re-published Quake 3 in the form of a free to play browser game, called Quake Live. They took the best maps and mods created by the community and added matchmaking. There was no more struggle with downloading mods and maps from random sources. No more need for finding which version of game binaries you need to have to play on a certain server. Quake Live was neatly packed into a browser plugin. That also meant it supported Windows, Linux, and Mac OS, and best of all, it was free to play!
It was hugely popular for what basically was a 10-year-old game at that point. It had many online and LAN tournaments with great prizes, and what is most important, it had a dedicated community who played the game.
In 2014, Quake Live was released on Steam. After a few months on Steam, the game stopped being free to play and got a price tag of 10$. And until this day, it is the best arena shooter experience you can get.
Two years later, Quake Live was still being played with a yearly QuakeCon LAN tournament attracting tens of thousands of viewers on Twitch. But, player numbers were slowly dropping. After all, this was almost a 20-year-old game, and players craved for a new game.
In 2016, a few days before E3 admins on Quake Discord implied to us that we should watch E3. But, we didn’t need too much persuading. After a brilliant success of Doom 2016, we all had a feeling that a new Quake game was behind the corner.
Finally, on June 13th of 2016, the eyes of all Quakers across the world were looking at E3 stream. I had a college exam the next morning, which I failed because I didn’t manage to wake up in the morning. Luckily id Software didn’t disappoint us.
Quake was back!
I got a key for closed beta as soon as I could. The game was what you would expect from a game in closed beta. It had few champions to choose from, few game modes and a very small number of maps, but it felt like Quake, everything else could be fixed. Developers took core mechanics of Quake games and put them in fancy new clothes and I was the happiest gamer ever.
Beginning of the end
A few months later, the first of many mistakes was made. Months passed, but the game still had serious issues and it didn’t have a lot of content. Unfortunately still unready, the game entered open beta. Developers tried to reinvent hot water by pushing the “e-sport” mode which was very boring to play and barely fun to watch. Duel, which was always the core of the competitive scene was pushed to the side, and they butchered it with round-based gameplay.
Things were getting slowly fixed, new champions were introduced, together with a few more maps and modes that nobody asked for. But still, with way too many problems and not enough content, the game went free to play on Steam on August 10th of 2018.
Quake Champions today
Quake Champions is graphically way more impressive than any of its predecessors, but it doesn’t even come close to other games, like Doom 2016. Some of the maps, such as Blood Covenant, look pretty decent, while others are just boring to look at. Most of the maps use only a few colors, shades of gray and green. This was done to make enemies more visible, but it just made the maps look boring and ugly. Also, most of the impressive architecture is high above your head, where you will never look and even if you wanted to, because of fast-paced gameplay, you won’t have time to.
On the other hand, champions look amazing! They are well detailed and there are more cosmetics then you could ever want. You can change the color of champions, you can add attachments to their heads, hands, torso, legs, there are also vanity items. All of this gives you a lot of ways to customize your champions and make them unique. You can also customize your guns.
Quake Champions did keep the core Quake game mechanics, you can still strafe jump, rocket jump,… All well-known Quake weapons are still here, including the most important ones: rocket launcher, railgun, and lighting gun. We have our good old game modes, such as duel, deathmatch, TDM, CTF, Instagib, as well as some new ones like attack and defend, sacrifice and 2v2.
Duel is now finally a proper, time-limited duel, without rounds. If you love competitive games and have nerves for it, this is a mode that will make adrenaline rush through your veins!
Deathmatch, TDM, and Instagib are exactly what you would expect them to be and they are the most popular game modes. 2v2 is just a TDM with two players in each team. 2v2 is very fun to play, but it is hard to find matches sometimes.
Sacrifice and CTF and attack and defend are basically dead. Sacrifice was supposed to be the big e-sport mode, but it failed. CTF is broken because of unbalanced champions abilities and lack of maps. Attack and defend failed simply because it’s stupid and is another mode that nobody asked for.
Trough history, different Quake games, and modes had slightly different movement styles, and developers of Quake Champions decided to use all of them and all of them at the same time! This was made possible through the introduction of champions. Different champions have different movement mechanics from the previous Quake games and they even added some new ones, like wall jumping and double jump (from Doom).
Although it sounds awesome in theory, and for most of the game modes it works fine, this isn’t suited for before hugely popular Capture the Flag mode. There are also some questionable decisions in creating champions. For example, Sorlag is a tank champion while being super fast at the same time. Things like this, together with lack of maps totally break CTF.
As we already mentioned, a big addition to the franchise and the arena shooter genre itself were champions. Developers considered them to be a natural evolution for the arena shooter genre. Champions are split into three categories by their stats: light, medium and heavy. They all have unique active and passive abilities, as well as different movement mechanics. This enables you to chose a champion that suits your play style the most. It also, more or less, gives you a feeling of playing a different game when selecting a different champion. There is a big variety of champions and they are well balanced, except in game modes such as CTF.
Except for different movement mechanics, champions have different stats and different active and passive abilities. Abilities vary a lot, from Rangers teleport, Nyx invisibility, Sorlags spit, and they are well balanced. At the same time, developers wanted the skill of weapon usage and map control to be the main factor in gameplay. Because of that, they made active abilities weak and now they are more of a gimmick than something that can change the outcome of the match. Since abilities aren’t very strong, developers made recharge time short, so they can be used very often. This made them even worse than a gimmick, now they are simply annoying and they break the fluidity of the game.
Instead of this, abilities should be much stronger but have a long recharge time, so you can use them once or twice in a match. You would have to think about when to use the ability and if timed properly, you should be able to actually make a difference!
The game is free to play on Steam and Bethesda launcher. If you wish, you can buy champions pack, which will unlock all the champions that are currently in-game and all champions that might be released in the future. There is also an option to buy a battle pass, which will help you level up faster. Except leveling up faster, you will unlock cosmetics faster and you will be able to unlock some of the battle pass only items.
With the price of 0$, there is really no reason why you shouldn’t try this game.
Slowly, things are getting better, but unfortunately, it is too little and too late. Most of the players already left, and won’t be coming back. With time, we did get modes that we wanted, like CTF, but we don’t have any good maps to play on.
Another thing that we got was a proper duel mode and it’s freaking awesome! But again, the game suffers from a lack of maps. Playing duel and TDM on the same handful of maps gets really repetitive, but it is fun to play it from time to time with friends.
The game also has a wide variety of champions to choose from. This allows you to play on the same maps in a different way and make the game slightly less repetitive. Also, there are more cosmetics than you could ever want to have. If only developers focused more on the game and less on cosmetics, this could actually be a good game.
Unfortunately, Saber Interactive, a Russian company that was working on this game, stopped developing it. Now the game is in the hands of id Software developers. With a small player base, it seems that Quake Champions will stay forever in early access. All in all, the future of Quake Champions doesn’t look very bright. That is a real shame for a game with so much potential.
Luckily, there is still hope for arena shooters! There is a light at the end of this tunnel and it’s shining with the brightness of a thousand suns! Name of the game is Diabotical and for now, it is in closed beta.