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Over the past few years or so, classic first-person shooter franchises have seen their way to new consoles thanks to Bethesda and id Software. The revivals of Wolfenstein, the wildly successful Fallout, and the most recent, ball-blasting beauty of DOOM — it's as though the best-selling and best-known shooters of the 90s have been given new life through a single publisher. But of the games I remember from my teenage years, the frantic pace of Quake III: Arena was the preferred way to play games with friends. And at some point in the future, we'll get to see more of that with Quake Champions.
Not much is known about Quake Champions yet. We know it will have multiplayer but no word on a single-player mode. It's designed with tournament and e-sport play and a unique character set for different play styles, and that's pretty much it. There's going to be more information available come QuakeCon, so we'll just have to stay tuned for more down the pipeline. But for now, while I think we all realize at this point that we can't see it as anything but a pretty-shiny cinematic that vaguely reminds me of my old Arena days.
This actually does beg the question, particularly to id Software but to Bethesda as well: with these revivals being so critically and commercially well-received, why is it they're having such trouble with bringing out a new IP? Rage was hyped out the yin-yang, complete with crawling monsters hanging out above the doors of the LA Convention Center during E3 a few years back, but while it translated into praise and awards, it didn't make particularly gangbuster sales number (According to VGChartz, about 3 million copies were sold between Xbox 360 and PS3, and under 400,000 for PC.) and seemed to fizzle out as quickly as it first appeared. What gives?
Is it possible the revival of these franchises can be seen as a means to an end for newer, more polished IPs in the future then? Everything shown during the press conference before this year's E3 has focused on a franchise that already exists in some capacity, and while the single-player experience has taken front and center in their most recent games, perhaps turning to the history of Quake and its multiplayer reputation will allow the companies to further build up their crew as Deathmatch masters. And with that added experience, they can branch out and try again with another new IP, maybe something that takes the world by storm. This is speculation of course, but could that be too far off?
When it gets down to brass tacks, I don't see a reason to be disappointed that another great name is getting some time in the limelight. We don't know when it's coming, not even the year, and we don't know anything about how it might handle other than "each player will have their own unique feel and strengths/weaknesses". Hell, we don't know what platforms it'll be released on (PC sure, but consoles? Maybe?) or if it'll have a story mode at all. We'll just have to wait and see if id and Bethesda can properly respawn another franchise or if Quake as a series is simply fragged. We've got some time before we know for certain.
In the meantime, we all have time to find that copy of Arena buried in that shoebox shoved under the bed with old PC game CDs, dig up that classic beauty, and mow down some friends with the good ol' plasma rifle. Just thinking about that Quad Damage power-up is making my fingers twitch with glee.