Growing up, there were two games that were staples of my youth. The first game was Nintendo’s Pokémon series. The other game that helped me grow up was Activision’s Call of Duty series. Yes, I was one of those 12-year-olds playing Call of Duty. Now while the first game is baked into my DNA, the latter has disappeared for me. I’ve played FPS games since then but nothing has gripped me as much as it did then. However, I played a game lately that has helped rekindle that spark in me. Quake: Champions is an upcoming game from developer id Software that aims to re-capture what made the first Quake such a smash hit. For me, it’s doing the job.
Booting up Quake: Champions was painless. Sure there were lootboxes, and there were champions I could cycle through and learn about if I wanted to. There was also a big play button that was more than willing to mercilessly drop me into a death arena. So that’s what I did. I pressed play without knowing anything about this game and got to work trying my best to frag my opponents.
What better way to try out a game then diving in head-first, right?
Quake: Champions definitely feels similar to classic Quake. The champion select isn’t the most important element to gameplay as player skill will dictate your ability more than which character you play. Map knowledge and individual aim are the most important things and that can’t be chosen from a pregame menu.
As far as actually playing the game, Quake: Champions is fun. There’s no working with teammates or focusing on an objective. I just got to focus on what I was doing and what was in front of me. In this age of hero shooters and objective focused shooters, having something this simple was refreshing. The core gameplay felt great and I found myself getting lost in the game. Even without delving deep into the game, my drive to learn the maps and weapon spawns was enough to keep me playing.
The time I’ve spent with Quake: Champions was enjoyable. I never felt like there were elements in the game that cheapened the experience. Any time I died was due to my shortcomings in skill and never because of a character ability or some unbalanced mechanic. I’m not sure how many hidden mechanics there are in the game to master but I did try bunny-hopping to keep up my speed. If there are more tricks and techniques for the community to discover and master, then the game has a bright future.
However, I did find some things that worried me. While I did praise the simplicity of the game’s core, that is also a hindrance. If players feel that they’ve played all the game has to offer after a few matches, what is there to keep them playing? Normally this is where cosmetics and prestige systems come into place. Yet I found the rewards for progression lacking. This isn’t Blizzard’s Overwatch that has players falling in love with its characters, this is Quake: Champions. Players aren’t going to be falling in love with this game’s characters in quite the same way.
If my only gripe with a game is that it might not be able to keep players around, I think that is a good sign that the title has a chance. There’s solid, rewarding gameplay to be found in Quake: Champions. I look forward to seeing where the game goes. Until then, I’ll keep running around and trying to frag my opponents; no matter who they are.