Quake Champions's December update is live, and it's one of the biggest the old-school arena shooter has seen since it entered early access. The much-maligned loot box-based economy of the game is dead, replaced by a linear progression of cosmetic rewards for each character, and extra goodies for those who pick up a Fortnite/Rocket League-styled season pass. They've also brought back Capture The Flag mode (my favourite way to play classic twitchy shooters), added a new map and squeezed a little more performance out of the game for those on lower-spec PCs. Check out the full patch notes here.
The convoluted economy of the game is no more. Those who still had currency left over before this change will find themselves with a final stack of loot boxes to open (gorge yourself!) based on how rich you were on both resources and XP - everyone's level has been reset. From now the only non-premium currency is Shards, and they're very simple. Shards are earned though battle pass and weekly challenges. Twenty shards unlocks a character permanently, or one shard unlocks one level of cosmetic rewards for a character. Mostly, you'll just unlock costumes by playing your favourite, though. It's a simple, clear system and a major improvement in my opinion.
They've been cutting back on a lot of the fluff in the game. Not long ago, they simplified the characters into three weight classes, each with a fixed health/armour/speed balance. Every character still has their own unique passive and active abilities, but there's less worrying about the fine details and more focus on the broad strokes. That, and rocket-jumping, which is a fine skill to learn in CTF. The new map, Citadel, is based on Quake Live CTF arena Stonekeep. It's designed from the ground up for CTF and is almost completely symmetrical, but that shouldn't matter - at half time in any CTF match, the teams swap sides so nobody gets unfair advantages.
They've also reshuffled the playlists this update. Quick Play gets you a mixture of CTF, Deathmatch (team or otherwise), Instagib and Unholy Trinity. Arcade mode (a bit like Overwatch's Brawls) has two very silly single-character modes - AAArena, where everyone is BJ from Wolfenstein with his dual-wield power charged on spawn, and Slide & Slash mode makes everyone Slash and armed with the melee gauntlet only, but her skate-trails are instantly lethal. Sadly it sounds like there were some bugs found in Slipgate and Sacrifice mode, which are relegated to custom matches until fixed.
The December update is live for Quake Champions, and is a hefty download, with patch notes here. The game is free to play on Steam and Bethesda and still in early access. The All Champions pack is 50% off (£15/€20/$20) on Steam and the Bethesda Store right now, and unlocks all characters present and future, while maps and playmodes are free for all.