Something about putting the words 'Quake' and 'early access' into the same sentence makes me dizzy. We're in another world these days, but back in the day Quakes were games that arrived so fully-formed, so absolute and monumental, that the idea of being able to buy an unfinished one makes the damn fool old man who sits at the back of my head wave his walking stick around furiously.
The thunking behind the early access boogaloo is so they can test out, balance and refine multiplayer before they start advertising it on the side of buses. Multiplayer's a different state of affairs from singleplayer in that regard for sure; it just feels like they've been running closed betas for ages now, so adding another link in the chain is vaguely confusing.
Sez current id boss Tim Willits:
"With a fast, skill-based game like Quake Champions, nothing is more important than continual testing and refining, based on player feedback, to ensure the game is balanced, optimized, and fun for all levels of players, from pro to new.
"The Early Access version of Quake Champions is, obviously, a work-in-progress, but represents a solid and robust version of the game, with four modes, 11 Champions, a variety of maps, and a thriving community of fans. Early Access will allow us to work closely with players to improve the game and add additional features before the official launch of Quake Champions in the coming months."
"Coming months" arguably suggests the full release will be this year, but that's just a guess from a guesser whose guesses should never be used as proof of anything. In the meantime: next Tuesday, August 22 is the early access date.
Quampions will eventually be free-to-play, letting players pay to rent or unlock more characters. You will be able to pay a lump sum to unlock everyone, though, and that 'Champions Pack' is what'll initially hit early access at £20/$30. That will rise to £30/$40 come the full release.
The early access version brings with it a bunch of stuff that hasn't been in the betas, including a playable recreation of 2016 Doom's Doom Slayer character, two new maps, something called Rune Challenges, unlockable skins for the Champions, improved tutorials and difficulty options and in-game voice chat. In total, there'll be 11 playable characters, with six more promised before the end of 2018.
So there you are. A new Quake, for everyone: but is it the Quake you're looking for? We quite liked it, back in the closed beta days.