It's been heartening to see Quake Champions doing so well. After the likes of LawBreakers failed to draw the crowds even during free beta events, was there even room in the market for an old-school arena shooter? Apparently so, as when Bethesda announced at E3 that the game was going free-to-play early (for a limited time), the servers filled up fast, and stayed full. They reckon they're on to a good thing, clearly, as they're extending the giveaway for another week. Tag the game now at Bethesda.net or on Steam and keep access forever.
Bethesda's plan was always for Quake Champions to be free-to-play, of course, with a MOBA-like rotation of free playable characters and the option to buy permanent access to favourites through extended play (see 'lots of grind'), but this giveaway opens that door early. Those who would rather just buy the game outright have that option too - a pack offering access to all characters and gameplay content present and future is available for $30 normally, but discounted by a third at the moment.
Credit where it's due; while arena shooters are a particularly intimidating genre of twitch online action games, they do what they can to ease players in. Champions starts with a gentle series of tutorial videos, or alternatively a recently-reworked in-game training mode that lets you practice with AI bot opponents before you're asked to shoot at any human players. While there's no exclusive botmatch mode at present, there are plans for AI opponents to play a bigger part in the game in future, so watch out for that.
While there is some debate as to whether Champions is too much like Quake 3 Arena, or not enough like it, what can't be denied is that a lot of people are playing the game right now, and it's great to see a straightforward arena fragfest populated with many thousands of people at any given time. The game does at least offer a good amount of variety with 1v1 arena flights, an assortment of team playmodes and even an instagib mode for those wanting instant gratification (or death).
Quake Champions is out now and free to keep if you grab it before June 25th at Bethesda.net or on Steam. There's also a Champions Pack which unlocks all playable characters present and future, currently discounted down to £13.19/$19.79