id Software is enjoying quite the renaissance these days. After years spent on the sidelines with ho-hum titles like Quake IV, the company was acquired by Zenimax Media in 2009 and has successfully revived all of its major franchises.
The company received praise in conjunction with MachineGames for 2014’s excellent Wolfenstein: The New Order. It rose to even greater critical heights with last year’s reboot of Doom, successfully recapturing the spirit of the 1995 original title. Now the studio has turned its attention to the Quake series with Quake Champions.
Quake isn’t the most famous or popular of id’s properties, but it’s probably the weirdest. The series got its start being a peculiar horror shooter before transitioning to multiplayer territory with 1999’s Quake III Champions.
Quake III proved quite the popular arena shooter, and id seeks to continue the fun with Quake Champions, which is currently in Early Access on Steam. Quake Champions has enjoyed acclaim from players and critics, and while it’s great to see the series’ return to form, the title also has a chance to bring back one of gaming’s greatest subgenres: the arena shooter.
Arena shooters are a breed of multiplayer shooter distinct from the likes of Call of Duty and CS:GO. They place special emphasis on simple controls, fast movement, and diverse map elevation. Quake Champions has these things in spades: the game is easy to pick up and doesn’t require special tactics or hundreds of hours of practice to become good at.
Quake Champions remembers an age when players could simply pick up a gun and start shooting at bad guys without all the fuss about weapon classes, team tactics, etc etc.
There aren’t many games played at a quicker pace than Quake Champions, either. Players move around maps as if hopped up on angel dust, swooping down corridors and charging through rooms.
The high movement speed can take some getting used to, especially for players who are used to slower-paced shooters but it makes for quite the rush. Just like its shooting, Quake Champions’ movement is designed to be simple to understand and easy to pick up.
A lot of Quake Champions’ fun comes from its diverse elevation. There’s a reason the most iconic replays are of dudes getting shot as they’re sailing through the air on a boost pad; it’s because shooting someone from the air is the most stylish trick shot this side of the Tempest Shrine. The only thing more fun than running around shooting people is running around shooting people while also leaping off a cliff.
Each of these design facets has one unifying element: simplicity. The original arena shooters were made in an age before advanced in-game physics and attention to realism, so they took a lot less time and effort to get the hang of.
This ease of access is why Quake Champions needs to succeed: arena shooters are built to be open to a much wider pool of players than military shooters, and their return could spark even wider interest in the wonderful world of first-person shooters.
Anyone interested in trying out Quake’s simple shooting and fast-paced movement can pick a copy up on Steam. The game’s currently in Early Access but is estimated to get a full release early next year.