For those who don’t know, I got into the Quake Live closed beta just this month after they decided to expand the player base. Unfortunately, there currently aren’t any Asian servers for Quake Live, and while that’s bound to change by the time Quake Live goes live (no pun intended), little ol’ me is stuck with 300ms ping in every single server thus far. It’s a pain I tell you, to have shotgun pellets take like forever to hit the wall and to watch your lightning gun beam bend and turn really slowly as you turn your mouse. It’s practically impossible to kill anyone, save for the random kills I get whilst spamming rockets away. Really, spamming rockets at every single thing you see (including walls and floors even if there’s no one there) is the only way to kill anybody with such great lag.
Thus, I’m relegated to playing with bots all the time, and guess what: it’s still loads of fun.
Fast Paced Action… Period.
Before I go any further, I’d better explain that Quake Live is a reboot of the game Quake 3 Arena which was released back in 1999. To me, Quake 3 (and now Quake Live) will always be my favourite game of all time. The numerous yet manageable number of weapons, great level design, infinite level of customisation for players with different wants and needs, etc. Everything in this game helped contribute to its unparalleled fast paced gameplay.
For some reason, games don’t do this any more, developers seemed to have stop bothering about fast paced FPSes for a looooooooong time. The two greatest FPSes to me? Quake 3, and the original Unreal Tournament, which was also released in 1999. For a decade, not a single other game has come close to offering the same level of excitement and tension these 2 games offered. Quake 4 was a complete failure in my opinion and it lost a lot of what made Quake 3 so much fun. Sure the single player campaign was fun, but the multiplayer aspect was a huge step backward. As for Unreal Tournament? They decided to ditch the fast paced, small scale gameplay and instead opted for a more Battlefield-esque shooter, having large fields of play and vehicles to boot.
What made Quake 3 so great? It has everything a video game needs. Most people might simply think it’s just a matter of how good you are at aiming in a video game, and that’s true for most FPSes nowadays, but Quake 3 was so much more. Strategising (a concept that FPSes of today seem to be completely unaware of) is so important in this game that it’s probably as important, if not more, than the player’s skill.
- First you got to know the map like the back of your hand. Which doorway leads to where, which teleporter goes where.
- That means you’ll have to keep track of where your opponent is, for example if you see him in one part of the map you’ll have to immediately infer where he’s able to go to next or what items he has in his vicinity to pick up.
- Then you have to remember where all the weapons are around the map so that you know which one to go to for a particular situation
- Then you gotta remember where all the health is scattered around the map so you know where to quickly retreat to if you’re under attack. No, you don’t have magical health-regenerating abilities like what every single FPS seems to be going for nowadays.
- Then there’s the mega-health, which basically gives you a ton of health when picked up (as the name obviously implies). Thing is, once it’s picked up, the mega-health will respawn every 35 seconds (in Quake Live at least), so whenever you pick it up or hear your opponent pick it up, you gotta take note of the time and subtract/add 35 seconds so that you’ll know when it’s back there for you to pick it up again, to prevent your opponent from getting it.
- Then there’s the issue of different types of armor (which protect you from too much damage, obviously) which respawn every 25 seconds and once again you got to time them to make sure you get them first instead of your opponent
- Some levels even have multiple armors around the map (some even have 3). That means that including the timing for the mega-health, veterans of the game will have 3-4 timings in their heads at all times while navigating around the map, reaching the correct spots at the correct timings, collecting weapons along the way.
- All that, on top of the fact that you’ve got to battle an opponent everytime you meet him, having to switch to the correct weapon on the fly for the correct situation. For example railguns when he’s real far away, rocket launchers for causing splash damage, shotguns for close range attacks, grenade launchers to lay traps, etc.
In fact, this isn’t even a complete list of strategies one goes through when playing a game of Quake, each weapon has its own strategy and way to use it, each map has sweet spots and strategies you can use to your advantage. For example the railgun hits the enemy instantly but has a really long cool down time of around half a second to one second (yes that’s considered long in Quake) which will leave you vulnerable. The rocket launcher can help you reach higher places using a rocket jump, but you lose a substantial amount of health in the process. The plasma gun is pretty strong, but takes time to hit the enemy who can easily dodge the incoming bullets, etc.
There’s just so many things that a player has to keep track of, consider and evaluate within literally split seconds. Hanging in the air for less than half a second while in clear sight of your enemy usually means instant death from the railgun. It’s really hard to put in words how insanely difficult, and thus rewarding, this game is. On top of all the strategising, you still have to hone your accuracy at aiming and shooting, which require flicks of the wrist and finger-twitching mouse clicks.
If Quake 3 was so great, why’d I stop playing it? Easy, because there weren’t enough people left (in my region especially) still playing that game. With Quake Live however, which is going to be a completely free, easy to install game, that looks set to change. It doesn’t hurt that Quake Live makes several improvements upon the old Quake 3 engine, for example having faster movement which only serves to make the game all the more fast-paced and thus all the more fun. Gamers who are used to FPSes like Counter Strike, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Team Fortress, etc will be in for a big shock if they ever try out this game. None of that camping, magical regenerating health, reloading crap here. Just an old-school fast paced frag fest unlike any other game has or will ever offer.
Here’s hoping to an imminent release date for Quake Live.
UPDATE: Quake Live is going open beta on the 24th of February! Without ANY Asian servers whatsoever! WTF! For information about it, read on here.
(Leave a comment about your opinion on Quake Live and FPSes nowadays as a whole)