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image at full resolution — art by the Crow
Note: Galena and Visor have since joined the image. The “tapestry” is still in the works.
Click here for Part One
a “second look” by the Crow.
These Past Two Months…
It’s been nearly two months and two weeks since I started playing Quake Champions. And in this short time, a lot has changed. Not only have we undergone a complete 180 of our year’s fortunes on The Corvid Review (starting with our “Horror Month Marathon“, and continuing into the “2018; End of the Year” spell we’re currently pushing for), but much has changed as far as Quake Champions itself is concerned.
Two corrections + an update on a pen
When I wrote my first review of the game, I was rather “green” about things. I’d spent a fair time away from FPS gaming, and was (and continue to be) a bit too distanced from the world of modern gaming in general. In that vein, I admit that perhaps I was a bit too giddy at the prospect of getting my hands on a Quake game once again to see how much of a n00b I was making myself seem.
Correction One: Of course, the very existence of abilities doesn’t make Quake Champions “pure FPS”. To using that poor turn of phrase, I hold my hands up. My mistake.
However, compared to the games I’ve seen currently doing the rounds — and I stress again that I do not follow the world of gaming very closely — Quake Champions reminds me the most of the “good old days”. There is, of course, a similar Unreal Tournament experience also doing the rounds on the open market, but I haven’t touched it yet, and so cannot speak to how nostalgic it might make me feel.
Correction Two: The first time I decide to ever use the term “love-letter”, and how wrong I am… Quake Champions is an attempt at a love-letter, at the very most. My reasons for saying so will be made clear in the following sections, and will be the main topic of this post.
The update: Yes. I’m still using my Wacom PTK-440. (Please don’t. I’ve heard it all before.)
Quake Champions : The December Update
Let’s address the elephant in the room, first.
Just over 72 hours ago, Bethesda launched the much-awaited “December Update” to Quake Champions. And what a ride (or otherwise) it has been since then…
There have been updates before, in my short time on QC. Certain things have been added, and many things have been taken away. Personally, as long as Team Deathmatch and Deathmatch were here to stay, I didn’t care. 2v2 Ranked was fun for me. 1v1 led to abysmal failure more often than not. Slipgate was okay; Sacrifice was better. And to conclude: my pen is allergic to the very concept of Instagib and Hot Rockets.
I saved up around 800k or so favour before buying the Champions Pack and squandering all that saved up currency on backpacks for runes. And as the updates came and went, I didn’t really have any reason to care much. The core of what I liked was left — mostly — untouched.
Until December, that is.
Finally, Capture the Flag is here. Favour and Runes (which I liked chasing) are done away with, and apparently all the crippling — and I do mean crippling — issues that were beginning to turn me away from the game were supposed to be gone.
What crippling issues — you ask? Lag. Being forcibly teleported halfway across a hallway. Being shot in the head through walls. Enemies skipping from ahead of you to behind you. The game just plain crashing in the middle of loading screens… These are just some of my favourite things that Quake Champions had been dropping on me since my first post went up. And yes: they were getting to me — especially in the days leading up to the “December Update”, the game had become an absolute chore to play. But there was promise — promise that a fix was just around the corner.
And yes. It worked. (Please bear with me. This is only my experience.)
Around 12 hours ago, I quit my week-long hiatus and logged back in, and the game ran like a charm. I had a checklist of things — albeit with low expectations — that I wanted to check off, for certain reasons I’ll get to in a minute. And the first — and only game — I played checked them all off (proof of most of these are retained via screenshots).
Here they are, along with (a quick sketch of) my system specifications:
And it was quite the experience. The Capture the Flag mode certainly needs some updates, but it’s the game mode I love the most aside from TDM, at the end of the day. It was almost everything I wanted, but lacked any pay-off for Capturing or Defending the flag as far as the in-game score went, far as I could see. It was the same old XP-reward that I’d seen before in Sacrifice that reared its head; and while I’m okay with the mode at a basic level, a better pay-off in the actual game would’ve been nothing short of welcome.
But I’m one of the ‘Lucky Ones’
As I stated before: that was my experience in one game.
Following the update, there was a swarm of complaints. And it was these many complaints that made me stave off booting up the game up until I did (at which point morbid curiosity got the better of me).
For MOST players, the game is overloading players’ RAM and leading to heating issues. There’s also talk about the game having become “barely playable” due to a variety of reasons — in a stark 180 to my experience. A lot of these players have systems of a much higher calibre than my old girl; therefore, it’d be interesting to see what the true cause of these divergent experiences turns out to be. While I noticed no unusually high pings (something that was common before the update), players have been reporting the like by large numbers. (For the record: My servers are western-EU/NA.)
People are unhappy with the current build of CTF, and I can see many of the complaints. The maps are not truly symmetrical (something — myself — I clamoured for in my previous post), there seems to be little pay-off in-game, and the mode does little to deter players from turning every match into a TDM. In addition: a score-limit would also be welcome. I also noticed one minor (very minor) visual bug in my own game of CTF, so maybe there are more issues than I noticed.
The REMOVAL OF 2v2, SACRIFICE, AND SLIPGATE is something that’s also irked players. Slipgate, I’ve always found sloppy, and can do without. It and Sacrifice have been removed due to persistent bugs/other issues, according to the patch notes, so I guess it’s something players will just have to deal with for the moment (Slipgate has bugged out for me in the past). That said, 2v2 is a strange mode to see chopped, given it’s importance to the e-sports side of Quake Champions.
Bethesda has promised a hotfix as soon as possible, so all we can do is wait for the moment.
Some (minor) Personal Grievances, and
Why Quake Champions is not a Love-Letter
Straight and simple: the game feels half-arsed.
Yes. It is Quake. Yes: it does maintain that frantic energy of the series. Yes: it looks and sounds great. It has most of the weapons we all know and love, and has the game’s DNA showing through its skin.
But… it feels like a project that’s facing abandonment.
I was suprised to find out — just days after my glowing review — that the game’s touch on my was fading. The horrible lag issues, the lack of sense in matchmaking, the atrocious net-code… they all added up to create a game that had promise, but seemed likely to end up as a ghost town in the vast land of gaming.
Following the December update, players are boycotting Quake Champions in droves (most, hopefully until the hotfix is released), but there weren’t that many active players leading up to it, either. Sure, the game lobbies weren’t empty, but neither was it brimming with players. And even though I’ve had a comparatively positive experience with the update, I find myself left with a feeling of… abandonment. This is not a major update for the game. Let’s break the changes down:
- Loot boxes are gone. Good news.
- Runes are gone. I’m 25/75 against this.
- CTF is here. It needs considerable work.
- There’s a Battle Pass. Just let me play.
And wasn’t a new champion supposed to appear? Or am I imagining things?
I understand that the game is technically still in “Early Access” or “Open Beta” or whatever-they-want-to-call-it-this-week. But to be quite frank: they can shove off with this nonsense. The game is as good as out in all but name.
And it not only feels like the game isn’t heading in any clear direction, but that we — the playerbase — aren’t even being treated like the guinea pigs we’re volunteering to be. We’re happy to play/play-test Quake Champions simply because it’s a Quake title — a title we love. A good many of us have invested in the game already (I myself invested in the Champions Pack simply to support the further development of the game), and a vast majority of the player-base is disillusioned that the game will ever go anywhere despite these investments. We’ve been patient, and when the developer promises a major update, I think it’s safe to say that we expect more.
I’m not even that angry over the December Update. Just imagine what those who’ve had bad experiences with it, and have invested are feeling — if they care about the project, that is.
Don’t get me wrong: the game is good. But it’s not what we want. It’s what we like and what we’ve been looking for, but it’s still broken, and far subpar. There’s a lot of work left to be done. We want better.
After all, if mods look better than the game before its release… that’s just a big problem.
The playerbase wants better. I want better. As much as we love the core of the gameplay and the feeling of “the Quake of old”, we’re almost two decades past Quake III: Arena. Let’s show some innovation in the right place, shall we? And by that: I mean better maps for game modes; more game modes; and more freedom to play as we wish.
New champions are fun, and would be welcome, but how about we just add new models ahead of time for Ability-disabled game modes just to add some variety to the game until they’re sorted out for future competetive gameplay?
Personally: I’m still waiting for ORBB and/or Tank Jr. I’ve heard Hunter doing the rounds amongst fans, but I’m not the biggest fan of hers. Give me Crash and Daemia/Major instead. I stand by my list of characters I’d like to see added from the previous post, with ONE major addition:
- Hiro Miyamoto from Daikatana (a long-overdue mauling is incoming). I would love the chance to frag the ever-loving face off him. I’d have thrown the other three in, but that game’s only worth the one reference. Let him be the “new Crash”.
Better offline support would also be welcome, as would an increase in bot skill. The “Nightmare” difficulty on Quake Champions are a collective insult to the “Nightmare” difficulty of decades past.
And just to mention it, since it caught my eye, and is a grievance I have over the December Update…
are these seriously “rewards” that I received?
And I thought Magpies were lazy…
This is a very off-the-cuff post, I admit, but I’m a little disappointed with the lack of direction I see. While the December Update works for me, it’s not a leap forward in terms of game content, but is a breath of fresh air to me from a playability perspective.
I’m happy with the improvements to the backbone of the game, but it seems the island for us ‘lucky ones’ is small indeed. The vast majority of the playerbase has been put off by the recent patches and improvements. At the end of the day: if the game isn’t working for everyone, what’s the point in me playing?
For now, I’ll leave my thoughts here. I want more, and I want better. I’ll stick around for now, but I see myself stopping if the next two updates do nothing to make this game feel a little more “finished”. Developers, please take your time. You’ve got something good, here. Make it better, and we will come in all our numbers. The game’s just short of bringing back the “good times” we cling to.
I’d say that’s a fair amount of time.
(As a final note: I’ve docked the game one point on my ratings. The updated ratings follow.)
— signed, a casual who wanted to come back,
but sees no reason to.
— Crow out.
Quake Champions : The Botlist
Here’s the updated bot-list:
And here’s a Motivational Scalebearer (just because it’s Monday, and Scalebearer likes Mondays):
Updated Final Ratings
THE CROW: 8/10
THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: NA/10
Here are a few posters for the game:
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