Quake Champions free-to-play mode was announced recently, and PAX East 2017 gave fans the first chance to see what the game will have in store. No release has been announced but a closed beta begins soon so we can hopefully expect to get a release later this year or, at the very least, a firm announcement by the time E3 rolls around in June. Unlike new IPs Quake Champions has a valuable legacy to manage, a fact not lost on id Software Studio Director Tim Willits.
“We have to evolve with our audience,” he told iDigitalTimes. “People that are familiar with Quake sit down and say 'yeah it feels like Quake.'”
Willits said the goal for id Software at PAX East 2017 and through the closed beta os to familiarize players with the roster of Champions. Some, like Sorlag and Anarki, are known to devotees of Quake III: Arena. But some, like Galena, are brand new to the hardcore and casual fan alike.
“We're trying to educate people on what the champions do. It doesn't change, really, the way you play but it does add that layer of strategy and depth,” he said. “It doesn't change the skill base or the fast-paced nature but it does add something to the game.”
Because of the Quake legacy, Willits is anticipating that a segment of “old timers that just want to buy their Quake and play it” will go for the Champions Pack and get all the champions at launch. They come bundled together or can be purchased individually. You don’t always need money, either, and can earn “favor” in the game that will let you play with any champion for a limited time, too.
“If you just want to play your Quake you can buy the Champions Pack and get all the champions … If you only play with five, just buy the ones you play with,” he said. “Everyone is in the same pool. The same matchmaking, the same maps. It's Quake the way you want to play it.”
In our hands-on yesterday we definitely felt that Quake Champions was true to the feel of Quake as a brand. The speed and verticality were on full display in Blood Covenant Arena, the PAX East 2017 demo map that is based on the The Camping Grounds map from Quake III: Arena . Willits feels the legacy alone will drive players to the game and that, hopefully, the learning curve is balanced enough to keep them around.
“Everyone knows about Quake so they'll be curious enough to come play it,” he said. “The characters, the progression, the achievements, allows people to be a little more successful. If you feel like you can't compete 1-on-1 play a team game, find a champion you like, try to be successful and get your rewards. And then you'll really start to see the progression.”
Of course, this isn’t the first id Software game to get published by Bethesda. Last year’s DOOM reboot was a critical and commercial success, earning high praise from old school fans and introducing a new generation to id’s style of gamemaking. But if you think the Quake Champions team is feeling the pressure, think again.
“Our success with DOOM has made this way easier. People are like 'Yeah this is awesome! id's doing great!” Willits said. “I'm in a good spot, there's a lot of love at the studio.”