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Let me just admit this upfront: I haven’t played a lot of Quake in my life. During that time of the late 1990s, I focused on Nintendo 64 shooters like GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark. Please don’t flame me. So id Software‘s return to Quake Champions doesn’t mean the same thing to me that it might mean to you, but I can still appreciate some of the anxiety around the changes this game is making to the Quake formula.

While the classic entries in this series delivered a multiplayer arena where everyone had the same basic capabilities, health, armor, and movements, Champions introduces heroes. And while that might sound like the antithesis of Quake’s beloved skill-based gameplay, I am coming away from the beta thinking that the subtle variations between each characters gives Quake the complexity it needs to justify a new game in 2017.

At least, it’s my very earliest impression that the heroes are helping the game. Quake Champions is still about who is the most adept at strafe jumping and mouse aiming, but now the character variances adds an educational buffer to that skill ceiling.

What I mean by that is when you come across an opponent, you now have to consider their ultimate ability and their custom health stats. And that is something you can only really learn through experience. If you go to kill Anarki, the transhuman punk, you have to keep in mind that he is faster than anyone else and can gain speed during strafe jumps thanks to his passive ability. So if you’re used to leading characters with the rail gun, you’ll have to adjust that for Anarki.

Now, I don’t know if I’d flat-out say that having heroes is better than having each person playing as a blank slate, but I do think that having this variety and learning curve will hold my attention for a longer period of time. It gives me something to learn while I’m subconsciously improving my other skills and understanding of the maps. That should keep me playing longer than if I just had to keep throwing myself into the grinder to improve my fundamental skills.

But despite any of these modern additions, Quake Champions is still Quake at its core. If Fatal1ty picks up the game, he’s probably not gonna have to learn the idiosyncrasies of every character to outplay the rest of us. If you’re like me, and you are mediocre with a mouse at best, you may appreciate the game giving you a chance to succeed through knowledge instead of your hand coordination alone. And if this isn’t for you, well, you can always go enjoy some Quake Live.

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