I can only assume the makers of Quake Champions are bunny-hopping around the office, rocket-jumping off their keyboards. That would explain the flurry of activity surrounding the old-school arena FPS. Today’s update marks the first leg in Id’s recently-revealed roadmap out of early access, introducing a new playable character (one of the more irritating monsters from Quake 1) and returning the briefly-mothballed bots to service, along with some improvements to their murderous robot brains.
Id may not have a broad cast of characters to fall back on for Quake Champions, but they do have some memorable monsters. The Death Knight – resurrected from his role as a mid-tier armoured annoyance in Quake 1 – has retained his classic spread-fireball attack as his active ability. Every now and then he can swing his sword to launch a fan of three fireballs that cause burning damage over time to anyone hit, or to anyone who tries to cross their flaming trail too soon. His passive ability gives him some resistance to lava, plus his melee attacks set people ablaze, too.
The other major feature of this update is bots returning in full. They were briefly removed from matchmaking last week, but are back, smarter and have their own dedicated Humans Vs Bots team deathmatch playlist. You can also create custom matches with as many bots as you like, both of which seem like good options for players wanting to get a better feel for the game before challenging other humans.
Less practical but still cool is the addition of some new music (with more to come later) from Andrew Hulshult. He’s been backing up retro shooters such as Dusk, Rise Of The Triad 2013 and Brutal Doom with his chuggy guitar riffs for years now, so he seems a natural fit for Quake Champions.
There’s plenty more on the horizon, including several new playmodes revealed in a recent developer stream. Slipgate mode sounds a little bit Counter-Strike, with two teams of four players taking turns at defending/attacking a slowly opening portal without the benefit of respawning. Arcade mode promises a casual and unranked mixed-mode playlist featuring some “wildly different variables” to keep things fresh, and classic Capture The Flag is on its way back.
Quake Champions will eventually become free to play when it leaves early access, but it’s £20/30/$30 on Steam or Bethesda’s own store to buy in and unlock all characters present and future, or £4/5/$5 for a starter pack. You can read the full update patch notes here.