We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Quake Champions gets a returning character, a new map, and faster legs for (almost) all

Quake Champions

Retro arena-shooter reboot Quake Champions continues it’s long march of self-improvement and refinement. This week, it saw another major update, bringing a slew of balance tweaks, a twitchy new duelling map, and a new character, rebooted from his original appearance in Quake 3.

Big stompy cyborg Keel is back in business, and thanks to Champions taking a few notes from Overwatch, his upgrades do a thing or two. Mostly cause explosions. He’s even got a character trailer, which you can see within.

Quake Champions hasn’t quite dethroned it’s predecessor – Quake 3 Arena – from our list of competitive multiplayer greats, but after a few more updates like this, who knows?

You can read the full patch-notes for the game here, but it’s an extensive trawl, so here’s the key points:

New character Keel’s gimmick isn’t exactly subtle. He’s got shoulder-mounted grenade launchers, which deal respectable damage (especially on a direct hit), and ammo that recharges at a rate of one grenade every 10 seconds, up to a limit of 5. Picking up ammo items accelerates the recharge. He shoots things. A lot.

The new map is the Vale of Pnath, a claustrophobic, vertically stacked environment designed for 1v1 or 2v2 play where you can track the position of your opponent by listening closely for the sound of them opening the heavy metal doorways that punctuate the arena.

Arguably the most exciting part of this update is an across-the-board tweak to game balance. Everyone has gained 25 starting health and max armor, and everyone (except for Visor) will now accelerate for longer if you run straight forward. Most characters can now bunny-hop as well, giving them even more speed and survivability – nearly doubling movement speed in some cases.

It sounds like Id are pushing hard to recapture the twitch shooter style that so many fell in love with back in the original Quake 3. There’s been some more tweaks and tuning done to optimisation both graphical and network to help compensate for the faster characters and your usual swathe of minor bug-fixes and polished-up UI elements. There’s also the option to see teammates outlines through walls now, which should greatly improve coordination when playing with strangers.

It should practically go without saying that the update also brings the usual bundle of winter-themed cosmetics, all locked away in sparkly loot chests, begging for players to either grind or pay up, but at least it’s just cosmetics being locked away. They have at least made it so that Reliquary chests now contain at least one guaranteed Epic quality item. Those who bought into Early Access via Steam will find Keel added to their roster straight away, too.

Once Quake Champions leaves early access, it’ll be officially free to play, with the option to (slowly) unlock characters through play, pay individually for them, or just purchase the game outright to unlock everything at once.