Quake Champions first came on my radar around this time last year when it was announced at E3 2017. It was shown off a bit again this year during the Bethesda conference, but being an Early Access game in beta it’s not quite done yet. It started off with a buy-in price of $30, but more recently there was a starter pack put up on Steam for $5, which doesn’t come with all of the champions that exist in the game. As a special E3 week promotion, that starter pack was made available for free, so I took my chance to finally experience the game first hand.
Touted as being the same sort of game as Quake III Arena that many of us played back in the 90’s (and was the direct competition for Unreal Tournament) and helped spawn the Arena Shooter genre, it has a modern twist from adding Champions with special abilities (to compete with titles like Overwatch, I’m sure). This claim holds true, as the champions appear to be mostly modeled after the Quake III skins though now they each have a special ability that recharges during matches and can be used to shake things up a bit. Of course, the nature of the game is to grab the best weapons and power-ups to mow down the competition, so the special abilities don’t add too much depth. Still a nice touch though.
The starter pack grants access to Ranger and Scalebearer, while the other champions are unplayable save for whatever the current week’s free rotation is. This is fine if you want a limited pool and would rather save up favor or platinum to buy the champions, but for $20 (currently) you can instantly unlock them all. Like most free to play games on the market, there are most of the expected trappings; you can buy champions for in-game currency (favor) or buy the RMT currency (platinum) for similar use. Skins come in many flavors, from customization options for your champion and the weapons they use. It seems that you can also further customize things with a rune system that I don’t quite understand yet. I assume it’s similar to systems found in League of Legends, though the runes seem tailored to each champion individually.
When it comes down to it though, this is the fast paced Quake that we all know and love straight out of the 1990’s. There are several different game modes and I’ve felt right at home with it. I love a mindless arena shooter, but this adds just enough nuance to make it feel at home in 2018, despite being firmly steeped in nostalgia from the past. I feel like it’s worth the $20 to get all current and future champions; it’s a good deal just like it’s been for other games like Smite and Paladins.
Jumping into the action has been a blast and I truly enjoy this updated version of Quake. I wish we could get a full campaign though, because the original Quake games were epic and we’ve had this new era of DOOM titles coming out so I’d like to see what id Software might come up with, but I’ll settle for the arena shooter that Quake has become. If you have ever loved a Quake title, I’d suggest picking this up now while it’s free, but even if you miss the promotion, it’s worth dropping the asking price for. I imagine it will be out of Early Access soon enough, as it feels polished and nearly feature complete at this point, but I also believe there will be new content added for some time to come.