Reflex Is A Proper Arena FPS Revival, Not Like The Others

Just yesterday Adam wrote about Toxikk, a multiplayer arena FPS that aimed to take the genre back to its roots by invoking Unreal Tournament. Hey Adam! That’s not the root of the arena FPS!

Reflex, now on Kickstarter, has the right idea instead. It’s similarly “a competitive Arena FPS that combines modern tech with the speed, precision and freedom of a 90s shooter,” but the ’90s shooter its aping is Quake 3. The real root of arena shooters. And the best one.

Let’s re-start this classic videogame pub argument, and put an end once-and-for-all to the tedious ‘which is better LoL or Dota’ question. Here’s Reflex’s trailer:

Which looks amazing, even if I can’t help but follow up “Skill-Based Movement System” with “That You Will Never Be Skillful Enough To Use.”

While the core mechanics look near identical to those beloved ’90s shooters, much of what the Reflex team have planned is in the infrastructure that sits around the game. That includes matchmaking, features to help with spectating of matches, an in-game replay editor for those slow-motion trickshot mash-ups, a training system and best of all, an in-game multiplayer map editor. I spent a fair amount of time as a teenager messing around with making Quake 3 maps, and I still love their particular architectural style – not the gothic or industrial themes, but the sharp angles and multi-level atriums and intertwining corridors.

Reflex is looking for a weighty $360,000 AUD, which is around £195,831.94 according to Google. $20AUD/£10.88 will net you a copy of the finished game at its estimated December 2016 release, while $35AUD/£19.04 gets you (at the time of writing) an early bird beta copy in August 2016. Those dates seem awfully far away, and while it’s nice they’re not underestimating, I wonder if that will hurt their campaign.


  1. G-Lord says:

    This looks an awful lot like Warsaw, which I could play for free right now. I do like the return of arena shooters though.

    P.S.:I preferred UT over Quake 3 back in the day, but I have to admit that Quake 3 aged better and is probably the superior deathmatch game.

    • terves says:

      Warsow was influenced by the same thing this was, CPMA, which one of the Reflex devs worked on.

      • G-Lord says:

        Thanks for clearing that up, completely forgot about CPMA which I didn’t play a lot.

    • MD says:

      I love Warsow, but comparing it to Reflex is a bit of a stretch. I mean, it depends on your frame of reference — from sufficiently far away all arena shooters look alike, and from slightly closer in you could lump Reflex in with QW/CPMA/Xonotic/Nexuiz/Warsow as one of the Quake-like-with-air-control crowd, but all of those games play very differently. If anything, Reflex is a modernised version of CPMA, but from what I’ve heard the developers don’t plan to stick religiously to that formula.

    • Carr0t says:

      I always preferred UT over Q3A. Sunk countless hours into the former, could never get into the latter now matter how frequently I tried (as I had friends who played it).

  2. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    I just…I don’t see the point of this when I can go play Quake Live for free which is the Quake 3 experience but actual…Quake 3.

    • terves says:

      Calling the current iteration free is a stretch, but not even nearly as big of one as calling it the Quake 3 experience.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lexx87 says:

        I probably need to do some learning then – I assumed Quake Live was Quake 3, looks like i’m very wrong then!

        • Faxanadu says:

          It is free, and it is Quake 3.

          Paying for premium gets you nothing, and only Quake purists care about the tiny differences between Quakelive and Quake 3. For the masses it’s the same game.

          • terves says:

            They get you nothing if you only play FFA or CA, but having like 2 decent maps per gamemode a month with no map voting for free servers make the gamemodes where the map you play actually matters suck. And you call adding loadouts, in-map item timers and a stupid new weapon ‘tiny differences’? Even in the ‘classic’ gamemode (that you need a pro subscription to play in modes other than duel, mind) the lightning gun deals less damage per hit than the Q3 machine gun and you can just max out your ammo by camping a weapon respawn.

          • ScubaMonster says:

            Quake Live just flat out sucks. I can still download GameTracker and find Quake 3 servers to play on. One of my main annoyances with Quake Live is the removal of blood and gibs. Killing my opponent and having them disappear in a flash of sparkles is completely counter to the vibe every single Quake game has had since the first. And yeah, the noobification of the game is downright stupid. Even if you don’t have to play those certain modes. As for the “masses”, it’s only the same game if you never played the original in the first place. Quake Live is re-imagining a great game for a new generation with a decidedly sub par experience.

          • Faxanadu says:

            Honestly I never understood the removal of bloody chunks. I always thought I was just missing some setting. Was there an actual reason for it? It can’t seriously be to make the game more accessible for younglings or something?

          • terves says:

            It was so they could get more advertisers, since it was originally meant to be monetized by ads until the company they made a deal with to provide them went under.

          • DeVadder says:

            I just love the conversation there. ^^
            “The differences are minor.”
            “What, you call these differences minor? *lists differences only hardcore fans would even notice*”
            Well, i guess notice yes, but changing the gameplay in a way anyone without dozens or hundreds of hours in Q3 would find meaningful? I doubt that.
            And do not get me wrong, i am one of those people with hundreds of hours in Q3 and the game sure feels different but in no way like another game or something.

  3. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Way too long to wait with UT returning, going to skip this one.

  4. reflexdev says:

    Just a quick heads up to any backers — the dates listed on the Kickstarter are the dates we expect to deliver the last part of the reward. We’re aiming to get the game in to people’s hands much sooner!

    • Grayman says:

      Hey best of luck. Been watching your project here and there for awhile. Going to check out the kickstarter page and decide what to back at.

  5. Herzog says:

    Pledged. Looking beautiful.

  6. Colthor says:

    Sonic is *much* better than Mario.

    • Kollega says:

      And Ratchet & Clank is better than Jak & Daxter. You heard it here first.

  7. Turin Turambar says:

    Quake 3 for FFA, pure DM/TDM experience, UT for Assault and Dominination game modes. Undecided in CTF, both were good.

  8. MD says:

    Very excited for this! There’s a real buzz around the Quake community for Reflex, it’s really our best hope at the moment for a revival of the genre we love. (And given the current rash of in-development arena shooters, that’s a meaningful compliment.) The developers show every sign of both loving the genre and being competent to see this through.

    I’m pledged at the $70 tier, which isn’t mentioned in the article but gets you a copy of the pre-alpha prototype almost immediately. There’s also a $50 alpha access tier, with an estimated delivery date a year earlier than the beta.

  9. fish99 says:

    Personally I hugely preferred UT to Q3A.

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      A wise preference.

      • MartinWisse says:

        Spent happy lunch hours playing both at the work computer club back in the day. Both are fine.

    • Premium User Badge

      keithzg says:

      Had a waaaaaaaay easier (and more powerful!) map editor too. I’m really hoping the new UT has a decent one; all the shit they started adding in terms of static meshes and such to later Unreal Engine editions, and then all the extra junk you had to worry about to make them work properly and not destroy the level’s performance, took it from “anyone can make a map” to “you have access to a 3D rendering program, right?”. As well, later versions made some of the usage of UnrealScript harder in practice; I was able to quickly make a variant of Last Man Standing called Last Guy Standing to play with my friends (primary difference: you started with full shields and a redeemer, it was ludicrous and broken and a ton of fun), but I never seemed to be able to get custom game types to show up in UT200x for whatever reason.

      I guess what I’m saying is, at the start, UT was a game based on an engine that was very accessible to newbie tinkerers, while Q3A was a typical Carmack game (perhaps a more advanced engine for its time, but harder to get a grasp of). As time went on, Epic tailored the engine and tools more towards those who bought the engine, and so it both became harder to approach if you weren’t an actual game dev, and also games stopped shipping full dev tools for their games (Deus Ex had fantastic mod tools; Deux Ex 2: Invisible Sequel had none whatsoever). I’m hoping, what with the source code even being open-ish, the new UT brings back some of that easy amateur tinkering.

      It’s already pretty fun, honestly.

  10. AshRolls says:

    What is this Quake 3 you speak of? Surely you mean QuakeWorld

  11. kyrieee says:

    I get that it’s trying to be like Q3, but prominently featuring a classic Q3 (CPM) map in your kickstarter video is maybe taking it a little too far.

    • terves says:

      That’s all the maps they have right now. It was a lot easier to get permission from the people who made maps to port them over than make entirely new ones, especially since they had no money.

  12. Tomo says:

    This looks amazing! Although, I was slightly disappointed when they displayed the gothic and industrial concept art – I thought the placeholder visuals were the real thing at first! Thought it looked great – a kind of Portal-esque minimalism :P

    • MD says:

      You’re not alone — someone made a similar comment on the Kickstarter page, and the response was “We plan on having a “high visibility” mode which is similar to what you see now.” :-)

  13. JustAchaP says:

    So wih all these arena shooters coming out. Who will rise and who will fall?

  14. mvar says:

    to me the video looks more like a remodded Q3 (which is not necessarily bad). I’ll have to wait and see how this comes out

  15. MrTambourineMan says:

    It’s a really good looking game with rock solid movement and gameplay mechanics as far as I can tell from video, but I’m afraid that their kickstarter goal is set too high. 250k € (or whatever the conversion rate is) is rather steep, in my humble opinion they should probably have chosen some engine that’s already on the market (say UE) and roll with it, keep the cost down and go into the bloodbath that is Kickstarter with lower end goal. As Unknown Worlds wrote in their NS2 postmortem:
    We certainly wouldn’t have made our own technology as part of our first product

    • terves says:

      They felt that none of the current engines felt right for a fast-paced arena fps. For example source has poor netcode and UE3&4 mouse input feels terrible.

  16. brokeTM says:

    Got to love it when a trend has in it’s being a trend spawned another throwback trend. Who else is Prophesying a wad of new projects in another decennia that aim to bring back the ‘classic battlefiend experience’?

    So far as new arena FPS games go I can name these on top of my head:
    – Reflex
    – Toxikk
    – UT
    – project Reborn
    – Tesseract (which seems awefully similar to Reflex)
    – Bluestreak (Cliff Bleszinski’s new game)

    Maybe some of these guys should talk to eachother? It’s starting to get oversaturated.

  17. LionsPhil says:

    Multiplayer map editing? Memories of Sauerbraten.

  18. BirdsUseStars says:

    Complete with 90’s Acid Big Beat soundtrack.

  19. zeh says:

    Very excited for this. Sounds like a good foundation (especially the editor), and a fresh start.

  20. catscratch says:

    Looks like reflex devs are reading this. We can have some proper Quake talk. Apologies to everybody else, obscure FPS jargon warning incoming…

    How are you going to stand out from QuakeLive? How are you going to reel in the casuals? A game based on CPMA is absurdly skill-intensive, and the core group of QW/CPMA players is pretty small. What will you do that QuakeLive doesn’t do already, and for free?

    Are you going to support cl_mouseaccel like acceleration, and all of the associated variables? Quake is the only game that has a clue about how accel should work. Say “accel” to a FPS player that’s not from Quake and they’re going to have a knee-jerk reaction like it’s the devil; hardly surprising since most devs have no clue about mouse customization and nothing seems to implement accel properly anymore.

    Here’s a thought: create a special rendering mode for maximum visibility that still looks good. What I mean is, the people coming from CPMA are going to play with low picmip-like graphics settings, and they’re going to stream themselves playing. A casual that sees the equivalent of picmip 5 is going to just say “what the hell is this…” and is less likely to pick up the game than if they see flashy graphics. So, you can give both groups somthing, have something like, let’s say, a cell-shaded or rotoscoped look with simplified effects that still looks great. Not too unlike what the game looks like now, incidentally. A good example of that would be Street Fighter 4, very stylized but still has good visibility.

    This way, you can have max graphics settings that have the wow factor to draw in casuals, and a game that still looks like quality when a streamer plays with a max visibility config.

    Also, “movement tutorial” sounds very important. Something like Defrag, and possibly extending to more aspects than just movement. Quake fundamentals are very obscure, and there isn’t as much information out there about them as there is in other games.

    Anyway, this looks pretty good. Stuff like Warxon or Xonotic seems good but it can’t quite shake that lo-fi indie feel. If Reflex has a good layer of polish on it but retains the hardcore QW/CPMA shell it could be great. Toss in good matchmaking, some proper netcode that does something about ping jitter so people aren’t warping around all over the place, and a lot of tutorials for the noobs, and it could go places. With QL seeming to soften up (it hasn’t, really, but lots of players think so) being unapologetically hardcore and proud of it could be a defining feature.

    Gonna pledge. Looking forward to it.

  21. Socrates says:

    Pledged on kickstarter because nostalgia.

    Hope to be able to play the prototype in time for christmas! With Quake Live going on steam I’ve tried that for a couple of hours again these days (long time Q1/Q3A player and had a Quake Live account) but the ‘feel’ in Quake Live now is somehow not the same as when Q3A came out but that may be because I’m that much older (and slower) by now.

    I’m curious how Reflex will do hitbox/damage model (damage based on hit location?) and speed of rockets from rocket launcher (Q1 was cool but OP, Q2 was too slow, Q3A was about right imho) and how true they’ll stay to the CPMA air control.