Quake Champion's Beta Is A Bloody Disaster

Image: Kotaku

Quake Champions is an upcoming free to play arena shooter that revives the beloved franchise. It is currently running a closed beta. It's bloody and fun in short bursts but it is also amazingly frustrating.

I wanted to enjoy my time with Quake Champions. Old school shooters formed a cornerstone of my time as a young gamer. Bloody arenas full of shotguns and rocket launchers are remarkably pure distillation of games during the 90s and early 2000s. I've yet to encounter a weapon better than Unreal Tournament 2004's flak cannon. I welcomed a return to those halcyon days filled with tense arena battles.

Quake Champions Plays Like Quake, Which Is Sort Of The Problem

The good news. Quake Champions plays, sounds and looks like Quake. The bad news. it definitely needs a bit of work, and it's no closer to solving the problems that have plagued arena shooters, Quake included, for years.

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Quake Champions frustrates as much as it entertains. The core gameplay is a captivating bullet ballet. Movement is amazing. Players dart around at intense speed, picking up lightning guns and rail cannons that make for nasty kills. The coveted Quad Damage power up can lead to stunning kill streaks. Unfortunately, this is undercut by a pretty terrible user experience. It takes an excessive amount of time to find a match and even when you connect, teams can be lopsided in terms of numbers and player skill.

The end result is chaos. Which would be fitting for Quake if not for the fact that it becomes increasingly difficult to have meaningful or interesting gun battles when everything devolves a bunch of speedy space marines running around like shotgun toting chickens with their heads cut off. What starts as dynamic often devolves into something far too messy. Yeah, it's only a beta right now and things might improve but at the moment, Quake Champions is a exhausting whirlwind that feels pretty random.

In theory, the "champions" part of the game is supposed to fix these sorts of problems. Players can select from a series of hero characters much like they would in a MOBA or character shooter like Overwatch. Each has unique active and passive abilities. I settled for Visor, a middle of the road champion with an activated ability that let me temporarily see through walls. It led to some creative rocket shots but didn't significantly alter play enough to feel exciting.

Quake Champions dangles characters in front of you in the hopes that you'll purchase your favourite champions. You start with a basic marine character but can effectively rent out a hero of choice by spending in renown earned in game. You'll have to buy platinum with real money in order to permanently unlock your favourites. It's neat in theory, but none of the characters are interesting and their powers fail to dazzle. For a game about champions, the majority are so forgettable that I don't even know their names.

In the end, Quake Champions looks to succeed on the strength of its core gameplay. The main issue rests with ensuring the overall experience remains balanced. For now, lacklustre matchmaking and haphazard play don't instil a lot of confidence. It can be fun but only for a while. Prepare for some cool frags with an equal amount of frustration.

WATCH MORE: PC Gaming News


Comments

    "For a game about champions, the majority are so forgettable that I don't even know their names."

    Is that a symptom of something like Blizzard though, where they spend months advertising and showcasing videos with backstories for the heroes? Is it that Champions is trying be Overwatch and failing, or is it something else?

      I think it's a symptom of people going in to it hoping it will be overwatch, and then finding out it's still quake. From what I understand of overwatch, your abilities can make or break the game. There's no match winning abilities in this at all. It's just something to add a little more to the game, while keeping things balanced, and keeping the primary focus on that Quakey twitch shooter combat. it feels like Quake, and that's the most important thing I think. If a champion had an ability which allowed them to just walk in to a room and kind of insta kill everyone in it, people would be pissed. The abilities can give you an advantage if you use them right, but you have to work at it, not just press a button and make magic happen.
      I think they've done a good job with it so far!

    Title says it's a disaster... article does not reflect this... c'mon.

    Second negative article about the current beta in a few days...

    I don't get it. I've been having a blast. I've had a couple of minor technical issues (beta), but I haven't had any trouble finding games. I have had more than a few matches with an annoying amount of lag, which is something they'll need to fix for launch. Aside from that it's been smooth sailing for me and a mate that I play with.

    Gameplay-wise it's basically perfect as far as I'm concerned. I was hugely turned off by them adding special abilities and character differences to Quake. Worried it'd ruin balance, ruin the feel of the game, or they were planning to turn it into another TF2 clone or some such nonesense.

    They didn't do that. The character unique abilities give you one extra tactical option that's moderately useful in some situations. You can completely ignore your ability and still dominate. This is A Good Thing. Only thing I'm not a fan of really is the big HP disparity between some characters, but it's not ruining the game for me.

    It's true that as the other article mentioned, other recent attempts to revive true arena shooters haven't gone well. But those games were all either A: made by small, independent devs and therefore lacking big advertising budgets or AAA polish or B: Not actually anywhere near being finished. Or in the case of Quake Live, not actually a modern game.

    Quake Champions has none of these problems. The core gameplay is extremely well polished and it seems to only have a few technical hitches which need sorting out. I can easily see this one being a success. Not a hit on the level of Overwatch or something (you would need to make it not-Quake to make it appealing to that wide of an audience - Quake, by its nature, has a high skill floor and is very punishing on bad players) but a success nonetheless.

      100% agree. I was worried about the abilities ruining that classic Quake feel, but I reckon it's done really well. Sure there's minor tweaks that need to happen, but that's what beta's are for! As for other shooter revivals not going so well, you're on point. Having played this, I'm not worried, because a) it's Quake, b) they didn't ruin it by changing it toooo much, and c) IT'S QUAKE! ;)

        I wouldn't say what I wrote was negative on the whole.

          Not saying you did :) i mean, clearly this isn't all negative either. Just my thoughts on why some people might be disappointed. I could be totally wrong, but just from what I've read in some reviews (not so much yours, but this one and some on other sites) I get the impression that people wanted it to be more. i for one, am glad it's not, cos otherwise it just wouldn't be Quake any more :)

    You're just bad.

    Also, of course there isn't any matchmaking, it's only a BETA version.

      This! There is a placeholder for regional servers when you start, but it's not operational yet due to beta. It will come eventually, and likely along with all the regular stuff, like being able to have private games etc.

    this just in, person who has never played Quake MP is horrified to see thats its not overwatch or Team Fortress

    so there are server and balance issues in a pvp beta? that makes it a disaster? isnt that what beta's are for, especially if its going to be a free game.

    I read and then hit "rail cannons" and then then sighed.

    Railgun. Quake has railguns.

    Personally I'm itching to try it but my PC is on a boat between countries.

    Last edited 16/05/17 8:38 pm

      lol I thought the same thing.. cannon just sounds so... wrong! ;)

    Its funny... it is a beta... it has problems ...

    Let somebody like rapha, cypher, bloody, etc. write a game review of this game... they know the ins and outs.

    Every time I read a review of people who just played quake a few times or actually come from games like CS which is far slower and a totally different concept. You can't compare quake to any other shooter than quake!

    If you dont know how to strafe, do wall climbs with plasma, or double grenade jumps, proper rocket jumps, CPMA, OSP, rocket arena etc. then you just dont know enough about the game.

    And mixing up railgun with rail cannon...DOH!

    Haven't you encountered a better weapon than the flak cannon in UT? .. seriously? you are definitely not made to play quake

    If you're thinking about trying this game, PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THIS REVIEW SERIOUSLY. It is written by a person who is spreading lies and propaganda. You find matches very fast and it feels and plays like quake. The gameplay mechanics are amazing and very fluid.

    As a rule, unless it's written by the Australian staff I don't take any articles here seriously.

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