Quake Champions

Of the Tabletop, and other, lesser varieties.

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Xenomortis
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Quake Champions

Postby Xenomortis » Sun May 14, 2017 9:42 pm UTC

So the beta tests for the latest iteration of Quake continue, and now the NDA has been lifted.

Mostly it's standard Quake - same weapons (although the Grenade Launcher has disappeared), same power ups, strafe jumping, etc.
The physics appears to mostly be the same as Quake 3, but the maximum speed you can get through strafe-jumping has been capped (it's still fast, but I'm not good enough at strafe jumping to "feel" the cap).
As far as I can see, health and armour "overcharging" can only go 50 points above your regular maximum. For those not familiar with Quake, traditionally your "maximum" health and armour is 100 for each, but some health pickups (and all armour ones) can take you "above" your maximum, up to 200. However, your health and armour will slowly decrease back to the regular maximum (encouraging you to maintain control over the pickups).

The most significant deviation from the "classic" Quake formula is of course, the addition of distinct "Champions" with unique abilities, following the latest trends in online gaming.
I'll be honest, I was one of the *many* people quite skeptical with the idea of "heroes" in Quake (distinct characters with different stats and abilities), but I do think it's been implemented quite well.

Heroes Champions have different baseline stats (starting/max health and armour, and different speed stats), along with unique passives and an active ability (with a significant cooldown).
Some of these passives bring in features from other Quake iterations - Slash gets Quake 4's "crouch slide", Anarki gets air control from the CPMA mod, and Visor gets an uncapped strafe jump.

The difference in starting health and armour between champions is significant - Anarki, a squishy character, starts with a measly 75 health maximum, and starts with 25 armour (50 maximum) - compare that to Sorlag, a veritable tank, who starts at 150 health and 50 armour (100 max)! The tradeoff is that Anarki is quite a bit faster, having the higher speed at 320 (the vanilla Quake speed I believe) vs Sorlag's 280. Nyx is the fastest character with a speed stat of 330, 300 seems to be "average".

The game mods at the moment are classic Deathmatch, 4v4 Team Deathmatch, 1v1 Duel (pick three characters, lose one when it dies, when all have died, lose the round, best of three rounds), and the new 4v4 "Sacrifice" mode. It's this last that will be the "official" competition mode and involves picking up a power up, moving it to your side of the map and "holding it there" for a while to score a point. I've only played this once, so I can't really comment on it. Mostly I've been playing TDM, like the dirty casual scrub I am. The UI shows slots for several other game modes, so more will likely be coming.

Most of the characters seem to be getting use (with one exception), although there is definitely a bias towards Anarki and Nyx, both fast characters with some unique movement options; Nyx has a walljump, allowing some quick shortcuts without having to rocket jump, and Anarki has his air-control.

The game is set to be "Free To Play", with payment for character unlocks. It is possible to "rent" a character, where you pay in-game currency to gain access to a character for 24 hours.
The starting character, Ranger (protagonist from Quake, and the only id software protagonist in the game so far), is pretty good though - he has a standard max 100 health and 75 armour, and the top tier 320 speed (beaten only by Nyx), his passive isn't too interesting (reduced self-harm), but allows more rocket jumping, and his active ability is a projectile that does quite a bit of damage (similar to a rocket) that he can teleport to (presumably he recovered the thing he used to kill Shub-Niggurath).

All I wish for now is for them to replace the stitches in Anarki's mouth.
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Re: Quake Champions

Postby Xenomortis » Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:53 pm UTC

So Sacrifice turned out to be a lot of fun, if a bit painful for solo-queue. But the community is still pining for CTF, so that may come in and replace it. Right now, Sac has been dropped from match making games, but is still available for custom games.
The two biggest problems with the Sacrifice game mode for me are the maps (modified standard maps, resulting in layout asymmetry), and the fact that it's not very good for spectators - the game is just too fast to follow easy.
FPS games have always struggled with spectator modes, and I think Quake is particularly bad (1v1 is just about ok)- the devs really need to implement a top-down display for these team modes and design maps with that in mind.
The main competitive modes are now 1v1 Duel (best of 3/5 rounds, 3 champions per round), and 2v2 TDM (first to 50 frags or 15 minutes, with power up spawns every two minutes).

Instagib is now in the game as an 8 player FFA mode - it keeps abilities too, so all abilities that do damage are now one shots, this is a little controversial.

There is a tutorial, but it currently does not cover the advanced movement mechanics (like Rocket Jumping, Strafe Jumping, and Circle Strafe Jumping) - Quake Live had "practice" stages, but never actually told you how to perform these tricks (and they require unintuitive inputs that you could never expect a new player to deduce).

They've just added bots - I've not tried playing against them, but I understand they're still pretty simplistic (no ability usage, only DM and TDM at the moment), but I hope they'll give newer players a less intimidating place to start.

Early access is on Steam - $30/£20 for all current and future champions. There is supposed to be a "free-to-play" release with a free champion rotation and the ability to unlock others over time, but I don't think that is available right now (outside of key giveaways that occur sometimes).

Recap of the past 12 months:
Spoiler:
Four champions were added:
BJ Blazkowicz (Wolfenstein protagonist) - a medium champion with dual wield ability. He was completely busted for a month or two until his ability was nerfed, then he was hardly used.
Doom Slayer (the Doom marine) - another medium champion with a double jump and "berserk mode" for his active ability (he falcon punches people for 8 seconds or so). Berserk didn't work very well initially, but then they fixed it and then he became a meta pick - they've been slowly nerfing it ever since.
Keel - a heavy champion and character from Quake 3, he gets a grenade launcher as his active ability, which gives him great burst output, particularly on smaller maps, but it's a little unreliable.
Strogg (Infiltrator from ET: Quake Wars) - medium champion with a remote drone. This guy was very controversial when teased - his ability cloaks him and he takes control of a remote drone that flies around, but he turned out a lot better than everyone feared.

They've twerked movement a lot - Clutch has undergone several changes, giving him a UT style dodge that gives him a huge burst of speed in the tapped direction (that, in Quake style, can be maintained upon repeated jumps), all characters have had several speed and acceleration changes (basically removing the light champions from play for a while).
They experimented with "simplified" movement mechanics, removing strafe-jumping for some characters and giving others the ability to accelerate if you just jumped in a single direction - I believe this was dropped quite quickly.

The last patch attempted to "unify" the champions somewhat - now all champions have the same base health, with distinct "Light", "Medium", and "Heavy" classes determining how much armour you get and what their speed and acceleration is - I don't know if this is a big deal, I worry it may make balance harder since there are now fewer variables to twerk, but we'll see.
Light champions and Heavy champions are seeing more play for the moment, but we'll see what QuakeCon brings.


The game is generally on the path of improvement with regressions generally getting reverted - I'm optimistic, but worry about the player base. It's been a long time since Quake was mainstream, and the FPS space appears close to saturated. I worry about its ability to draw and keep new players - the new player experience is critical and a good tutorial is needed.
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Re: Quake Champions

Postby Koa » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:34 am UTC

Gamespot is saying that you get full access to the game for free if you participate in the trial?

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Re: Quake Champions

Postby Xenomortis » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:15 am UTC

The $30 version unlocks all champions, including future releases - I suspect the free version does not, but I cannot clarify myself.
But worth testing I guess, it's not like it costs anything.

Edit:
I didn't watch the E3 announcement but, according to reddit, the trial download will unlock two champions, Ranger and Scalebearer (after completing the short tutorial).
Then after the trial period it becomes $5 on Steam for the same deal.
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Re: Quake Champions

Postby Koa » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:39 am UTC

Well I'm trying it out. Here are my live impressions:

Spoiler:
Cool intro movie.
Bethesda account... Definitely not something I am interested in but whatever.
Privacy policy says: IF YOU DO NOT WANT THIS PRIVACY NOTICE TO APPLY TO YOU, PLEASE DO NOT USE OR COMMUNICATE WITH US VIA ANY OF OUR SERVICES.

Okay... Sounds like a plan. I continue reading...

"Zenimax collects personal data directly from Users, automatically via their use of the service, and in some cases from third parties." Cool.

"Information from third party accounts, such as Steam, Twitch, Xbox live, PSN, and Facebook -- to your account with us, so that you can connect with your friends and network, share game information, and in some cases make purchases and redeem or earn points and rewards..." Oh. Cool... That's... sigh... That sounds really... useful...

"We may engage vendors, agents, service providers, and affiliated entities to provide services to us or to Users on our behalf, such as support for... blah blah... In providing their services, they may access, review, maintain or otherwise process personal data on our behalf. Our contracts with these service providers do not permit use of your personal data for their own marketing and other purposes." Oh what a relief. Whatever shady marketing agency Bethesda decides to work with will get full access to Bethesda's data on me, including their own copy, but it's okay because there will be a contract disallowing them personal use. Those strict, highly enforced and regulated, never expiring contracts. No one ever breaks white collar laws either, we all know that. I feel so safe.

I'll accept but fuck you Zenimax/Bethesda, yet again.

Enter my name? PRIVACYLEAKING.

Do the training to get some apparently nice rewards? I really have to train how to play Quake? I haven't played a Quake variant in a while but it's like riding a bike. Oh well I guess I can see how good the training is.

Okay I'm liking it. It's really quick.

Oh there are collectables IN the training. That's really cool. I really dig that.

Only took 5 minutes. Now I get my rewards and... Daily rewards that accumulate on consecutive logins... I'm not liking this again. Welp, time to fix my settings and play a match.

Oh look at that, the keybindings are already correct, the default settings are near-perfect already, and have everything you could want including correct terminology. The developers are very self-aware, at least. They know what they must do right, else no one will ever take it seriously.

I played the training again to try to find a way to record my gameplay that didn't lag the game for me or make the video unwatchable. I think it was an impossible task because this machine can't do it. It would have been a good video if not for all the dropped frames, and the resolution, and the bitrate, but uh... here it is. I played as though it were solo deathmatch.

https://youtu.be/GSYbP__YKi4

How did I miss that guy with the lightning gun at 10:35? Either my connection had died, in which case my client should have been telling me I got those hits anyway? Or his connection had died, and he was now invincible. Then the next thing I know he shot me and did damage. HMMMM. The latter concerns me, switches and third party tools could be combined in disasterous ways. If you're about to die, have the program start flicking the switch and you'll get random immunity frames and no one will be the wiser. So hopefully it was my connection, and this guy wasn't testing out some new tools that are discovering how to do exactly that. Is there a lagswitch sanity detection? Do I expect that kind of safeguard from a game that is heavily focused on microtransactions? Not really. And then again a little later, at 13 minutes, the direct railgun shots on him that did no damage.

I'm not saying he's cheating, I'm saying that it could get real annoying, and it could be exploited to become even more annoying.


My thoughts: meh. It's like every other Quake shooter I've played. I did like the map design more than the maps in TOXIKK (unashamedly old school), but I think I prefer the movement of TOXIKK over this version of Quake. Maybe I need to unlock the right champion or something, one with a wall jump, but I also really don't like the business model. I'm conflicted but if forced I would thumb down right now. I'll play it some more though, see how it unfolds. I get the whole "this game is interesting but I'm not excited" thing now.

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Re: Quake Champions

Postby Xenomortis » Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:43 pm UTC

Koa wrote:https://youtu.be/GSYbP__YKi4

How did I miss that guy with the lightning gun at 10:35? Either my connection had died, in which case my client should have been telling me I got those hits anyway? Or his connection had died, and he was now invincible. Then the next thing I know he shot me and did damage. HMMMM.

Lightning Gun has finite range - that guy was beyond it.
I haven't seen anything I could call blatant cheating for months now, but aimbots and wallhacks weren't rare a year or so ago though.

Koa wrote:I did like the map design more than the maps in TOXIKK (unashamedly old school), but I think I prefer the movement of TOXIKK over this version of Quake. Maybe I need to unlock the right champion or something, one with a wall jump, but I also really don't like the business model. I'm conflicted but if forced I would thumb down right now. I'll play it some more though, see how it unfolds. I get the whole "this game is interesting but I'm not excited" thing now.

I don't know anything about TOXIKK, but the big things I find with Quake's movement are the raw speed that can be attained, and how easy it is to maintain momentum - you only lose speed on the ground, can gain speed whilst in the air (through strafe-jumping or bunny-hopping), and you'll keep that speed if you keep jumping (it's *much* easier than it is Counter Strike). You can shoot an angled rocket behind you, ride the shock-wave to gain a huge burst of speed, and then keep that via jumping until you want to stop or hit a wall. Every other FPS I've played feels really slow in comparison.

That said, if you like other movement tricks that don't come from silly bugs in 20 year old game code, then Nyx has the wall jump which makes getting around easy and gives you nice evasion options in a fight, and Doom has a double jump for getting around *really easily* and being an utter c*** in a fight. Clutch has the UT-style air-dodge that grants a huge burst of speed, but I don't think he can't use it above a certain speed.
Slash has the most *fun* movement with her crouch slide, but it's gotten a bit trickier after some nerfs and I think you have to use strafing mechanics to get the large speed boosts out of it.
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Re: Quake Champions

Postby Koa » Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:24 pm UTC

Xenomortis wrote:Lightning Gun has finite range - that guy was beyond it.
I haven't seen anything I could call blatant cheating for months now, but aimbots and wallhacks weren't rare a year or so ago though.

I guess. It just seemed a little odd that they were standing still and I couldn't hit them, both times. Just like the railgun at 13 minutes. Maybe I missed, but it felt like at least one of those should have connected. Maybe the shot that should have connected ended up missing because he had started moving, and so the server thought I was shooting behind his movement. I don't really care about aimbots and wallhacks too much to be honest, they're the obvious problem. I care about netcode. When I or my opponent have missing packets, what does the game do about it? It seemed that when you lose connection, you stop and become invulnerable. I wouldn't be a fan of that idea. It's more F2P than Quake. I could be completely mistaking incomplete data though, aka I haven't played enough to be sure. You would probably have mentioned it if it did work like that.

Also, you can do movement like that in this Quake? I felt like hopping wasn't very powerful like it is in ye olden Quakes, and certainly nothing like challenge promode.

I'll mess around with the other champions at some point. I'll look into those suggestions, but if I have to open my wallet just to try out parts of the game then I'll be more than a little disappointed.

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Re: Quake Champions

Postby Xenomortis » Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:25 pm UTC

Koa wrote:Just like the railgun at 13 minutes. Maybe I missed, but it felt like at least one of those should have connected
...
I care about netcode. When I or my opponent have missing packets, what does the game do about it? It seemed that when you lose connection, you stop and become invulnerable. I wouldn't be a fan of that idea.

Honestly, I can't really say. I don't think you're "force-stopped" and you certainly don't become invulnerable. The odd frame-drops I've had felt more due to stuttering in the game client (in the early days, it would be a little while before the game "smoothed out", as though it was still dynamically loading stuff).
But in that video at 13:00 - to me it looked like the first two shots missed (aim is low down and off to the right) - the third at 13:04, not so sure. Anarki is notoriously hard to hit with the rail gun and the hitboxes are quite tight, it would be easier to tell if you'd zoomed it. I didn't see your ping at all in that game either.


Koa wrote:Also, you can do movement like that in this Quake? I felt like hopping wasn't very powerful like it is in ye olden Quakes, and certainly nothing like challenge promode.

I'll mess around with the other champions at some point. I'll look into those suggestions, but if I have to open my wallet just to try out parts of the game then I'll be more than a little disappointed.

Anarki and Sorlag get CPM-style bunny hopping - if you're good at that then definitely give them a go (otherwise, probably best stay away from Anarki for the moment).
But there are speed caps now, so it's not quite as ridiculous. Anarki has a base speed of 320 (achieved by running forward), on par with Quake 3 and Live, but a maximum speed of 680(?) (achieved via bunny hopping).
Visor is an exception - his strafe jump is uncapped (or at least, it's so high as to be effectively uncapped), and he has the best air acceleration.

Do they not still do the champion renting? It used to be that you could spend favour to "rent" a champion for 24 hours (fulfilling all the daily rewards would usually grant enough favour to do so, and takes a couple of games). I know they added the ability to permanently unlock one with a lot of favour - no idea how long it takes to get enough though.
I assume champion unlocks can still drop from reliquaries, which you can get from level up, and there's the weekly rotation (kinda long to wait if you just want to try stuff out though).
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Re: Quake Champions

Postby Koa » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:41 pm UTC

Well now the game doesn't work. Everything is fine until I search for a match, then the main render starts flickering. When I go into a game I see either one or two out of the three parts of the renderer. The three parts of the renderer are apparently 1. entities and skybox, 2. basic map geometry, 3. details detail details. I've seen 1, 1+2, 2, 2+3, but never 1+2+3. I reinstalled, deleted cache... I think I'll take it as an omen.
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