id Software is rethinking the logistics of its competitive shooter.
At today’s QuakeCon 2018 keynote, id Studio Director Tim Willits announced that the multiplayer PC shooter Quake Champions is going free-to-play. Quake Champions experimented with a free-to-play trial during E3 2018. Now, players will have long-term access to the game without paying a cent.
Players choosing to play Quake Champions for free gain access to standard matchmaking tools and a single Champion. Additional Champions may then be purchased with real-world currency. These unique characters each bring their own assortment of special abilities to the game. Purchasing the 29.99 Quake Champions pack unlocks access to all Champions now and in the future (on-sale on Steam for 19.79 until August 14). The Champions Pack also enables enhanced custom game setup options.
“Right now that package might be a time-limited offering,” Willits told IGN, “but anyone who buys into the Champions Pack will have all the Champions that we have now and in the future.”
Speaking with IGN, Adam Pyle, Lead Designer of Quake Champions, said: “We are, at our heart, a free-to-play game, but our Champions Pack offers a way for people to buy into the parity of the game with all the Champions and the future Champions. So if you want to have a good way to get all the content going forward, you can buy the Champions Pack and you are kind of good to go forever.”
“But if you’re a free-to-play player,” he continued, “then you can take the path of choosing to enter the game, you’ll get Ranger for free, and from there you can experience different players, different game modes, different trials. We have a free Champion in rotation that rotates so you can sample different characters, and then at your own leisure you decide who you want to purchase and add to your roster of Champions.”
Purchasable Starter Packs allow players to pick up Champions and other enhancements incrementally. Quake Champions also includes a loot box system earned through in-game play or real world cash. Loot boxes include “non-gameplaying changing vanity” items.
The free-to-play news comes on the heels of the recent release of a new Champion. “Death Knight makes a return from the original Quake game,” said Pyle. “He was a monster in Quake 1.” He describds the character as wielding a number of flame-based powers making him well-suited for area control. “Players have been having a big blast with him this week.”
Champions was released on Steam Early Access in August 2017. It aims to recreate the lightning-quick, aerial FPS combat for which the series is known. Pyle described what makes it special: “For me it’s just intensity and adrenaline. The moment-to-moment action in Quake is quite different from any other game.”
“I grew up playing Quake as a teenager in high school and in college,” he said. “That’s what got me interested in game development and design. I started making levels for Doom and Levels for Quake, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Nothing is more satisfying than having a job where I can live out that dream, basically build new worlds that I get to play in and share with others. I never have to ask myself why I’m doing this job. “
Just as in previous Quake games, players have learned to manipulate the physics to create incredible speed and tremendous jumps. “Quake Champions is unique in the field because it is by far the fastest and most intense,” said Studio Director Tim Willits. “Watching the greatest Quake players play is an amazing thing to observe. It has the intensity of classic id-style combat in an arena format.”
Adapting to Quake Champions’ unique speed and required skill sets can be a little daunting at first, so the update also improves bots to ease new players into the competitive environment. “The bots have really helped a lot,” said Tim Willits. “Bots are new at E3 and then we are rolling up a change now and have a roadmap ahead. It does allow especially people who are new to the game not to feel they are just getting their butt kicked. I can be intimidating to come into Quake.”
Quake Champions is still in Early Access, and a roadmap of new features promises a lot of new content down the line. Two more Champions and additional innovations are planned for later this year. The developers are optimisticabout their evolving creation. “I get asked a lot of times, if I get stuck on an island with one video game for the rest of your life,” said Willits. “And I say ‘well, with an internet connection, it would be Quake, because every match is different and every competitor fights uniquely.’”
Jared Petty produces Red Dead Radio: The Red Dead Redemption Podcast, Hop, Blip, and a Jump, and Pockets Full of Soup. He’s a host at Kinda Funny Games and a frequent contributor to IGN. He likes Quake. Follow him on Twitter @pettycommajared and on Instagram @pettycommajared.