Quake: Champions – Our First Impressions

I am a console scrub. This much has been known to my work colleagues and girlfriend who scoff and cringe when I opt for the gamepad for Overwatch over the superior mouse-and-keyboard setup. That being said, I have always enjoyed the classic PC shooters of the 90’s. The blistering pace and twitch shooting is a joy to behold, but I tend to avoid these games now because as we have established: I am a console scrub.

So, when we got the chance to play Quake: Champions and I had to adapt to the foreign and scary mouse-and-keyboard controls, it is safe to say that I was nervous as to how I would perform given how alien it felt compared to my familiar DualShock 4. I was right to be concerned, as out of the four hours I’ve spent trying out the game so far, I’ve been blown away, electrified and beaten up in every other manner possible for the entire duration…

…And I actually really enjoyed myself.

Quake Champions is an exceptionally fast-paced title with speed being key. This was the first curveball that I had to deal with as I have played fast-paced shooters before, but nothing quite like this. It is exhilarating and after I started to get familiar with the keyboard and mouse control scheme I was blasting my way through hallways and across gaps, the only problem is the game is so fast-paced that I started to experience some eye strain and had to take breaks from the game. I know this is always recommended but in my 18 years of gaming, I have never had to take a break due to the fact that I am moving so quick it feels like my eyes are bleeding. Sonic wishes he was this fast.

It was not enough to put me off though, I powered through the tutorial rather quickly and while I realise this game is currently in early access and will see developments in future, the current tutorial mode does not prepare you for the trial by fire you will experience in your first match.

It gives you the basics; how to move, shoot and swap weapons. It also gives you a feel for the games expansive arsenal of death-dealing toys, but it never feels like it teaches you the intricates of the mechanics. It feels more like a surface level overview rather than an expansive learning tool and while the menu’s in-game certainly show that there is more to come later, I feel like more could be offered to help a scrub like me get to grips with the challenging gameplay.

In terms of gunplay, Quake Champions is simplistic but unrelenting. There are seven unique weapons ranging from standard machine-guns, shotguns and Rocket-Launchers to Cluster Bomb launchers and Electricity Guns. It’s a good set of weapons and offers familiar FPS guns along with more fantastical weapons.

Each weapon handles differently and provided that you pick them up you can switch between them at all times. This makes the action frenetic as all players in the map use the same weapon pads to pick-up weapons so if there is a particular tool of destruction you are efficient with, you need to plot the fastest route to pick it up and deal with any resistance along the way.

The maps themselves are also a challenge in themselves but not in terms of navigation but in terms of moving from point A to B in the fast time possible while also dodging incoming fire. It is almost certainly an achievement of the developers to make maps that are not dull and simplistic but also not obnoxiously big and confusing. There is plenty of room for horizontal and vertical combat as you speed around grabbing guns and building your champion’s ultimate attack.

The Champions are obviously inspired by the popularity of the hero shooter as each Champion not only has passive abilities such as double jumps or wall bounces but also a devastating ultimate ability. These abilities range from offensive to defensive and so far, I would say the majority of the Champions are totally viable. Nyx is a low-health faster Champion who is able to Phase Shift with her ultimate ability. This allows Nyx to avoid all damage and reposition herself nearby to get the drop on enemy players giving chase.

These abilities were a blast to play around with, with the Doomslayer (yes, from the 2016 Doom Reboot) being my personal favourite as he could call upon his Berserker ability to move around the map like a jacked-up demon-destroying maniac with an exceptionally powerful punch. The extra bonus on top was that the Mick Gordon theme played in the background the whole time it was active.

The champions allow for a varied playstyle but my biggest issue with Quake Champions is quite a simple one. The lack of modes is worrying. Currently, there is the standard deathmatch and team deathmatch, sacrifice is a spin on the typical CTF and Instagib which is a deathmatch-style mode with one shot kill railguns.

There is also the Ranked Playlists which feature 1v1 and 2v2 but overall the mode offering is fairly weak especially when compared to previous entries into the arena shooter pantheon. That being said, I never felt bored or especially upset by the lack of modes, it mostly just bothered me to see the developers take a safe route with modes with a game that is not like any of the popular shooters around right now.

Overall, the game is exceptional and as my first dip into the ocean of PC FPS gaming, it was a daunting challenge, but an incredibly enjoyable one. I cannot say if this game will be to everyone’s tastes, but personally I enjoy titles that challenge me and also beat me down as I get the most enjoyment from developing my skills from terri-bad to moderately okay. If you are expecting to dive in and be good immediately, you will be in for a shock. This will almost assuredly scare away new players as the ceiling for being good at the game is very high but, my time with the game has taught me that this is not a title that was developed for noobs like me.

The original Quake and this reborn Quake: Champions are tributes to the roots of PC FPS games, where encounters were won with calculated aggressive plays made in the heat of the moment rather than calculated game-plans. I think Quake Champions does a damn good job of knowing its audience and appealing directly to it, even if this may hurt newer players who are forced to adapt to the carnage or get destroyed. And that, in my opinion, is completely fine.

Would you like to see us play Quake: Champions again, and hear more of our thoughts? Are you excited to play the game yourself? Let us know down in the comments, and be sure to follow us here at PixelTome over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest gaming features and news.

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