Director Tim Willits on why ‘Quake Champions’ will be the purest, fastest FPS ever

Quake Champions QuakeCon 2016

“Speed is a key factor. A lot of multiplayer games go really fast, but, I mean … we are fast.

That’s what Tim Willits, studio director at Id Software, told us about Quake Champions at QuakeCon last week. The gameplay footage didn’t begin with an epic cinematic scene, explosive set piece, or eye-popping special effects display, but with a Ranger character hauling hide around one of the game’s arena-style maps.

Willits knows Quake’s audience, which is why, along with confirming the presence of rocket-jumps and the absence of load-outs during the demo, he wanted to assure longtime fans that Champions hasn’t missed a step.

While we left the hands-off presentation convinced Quake‘s characters could leave even Doom’s fleet-footed space marines in the dust, we still had plenty of questions about what players could expect from the competitive multiplayer arena shooter. Thankfully, Willits was as excited to talk about his game as we are to play it.

Digital Trends: Speed is clearly an important part of the Quake experience, but what are some of the other core gameplay pillars that separate it from the competition?

Tim Willits: It’s about pure skill…a pure first-person shooter. It isn’t about sniping, it isn’t about hiding behind corners, it isn’t about cover…it’s about movement, as offense and defense. It’s about getting in and out of combat by how you move in a true 3D world where enemies can come at you from any direction. And then there’s the very powerful, gritty weapons. You have your long range precision weapons, you have your short range attack weapons, your explosives. Every weapon in Quake has had 20 years of refinement to become very specific to the situations you find yourself in.

Some fans have expressed concern that the addition of the Champions will change the core Quake experience.

It’s Quake at its core. The Champions are additive to the gameplay experience. One thing that’s worth mentioning is our design philosophy with the Champions and their active abilities is like a rock/paper/scissors mentality, so you can counter. We try to come up with a counter for the active abilities from other Champions. For instance, Scalebearer has his Bull Rush ability, but  if you were playing Nyx, you could Ghost Walk through him and then reappear and shoot him. We try to have those counters so that there is more depth and strategy to the active abilities. The active abilities don’t fundamentally change the way you play, they enhance and alter, as an added experience, the way you play.

Aside from the Champions, is anything being added to refine or improve upon what players expect from a Quake game?

“It’s Quake at its core. The Champions are additive to the gameplay experience.”

Yeah, so, of course, it looks great. But we’ve also learned a lot about the mechanics of spawning and weapons. Also, I can’t talk about it now, but we will have more of a progression system, and it will be very geared towards the competitive scene like we have done with our previous Quake games.

Speaking of the eSports scene, that space has changed and evolved quite a bit since the last Quake game. Can you talk about specific plans for Champions?

So we want to embrace the competitive scene through, of course, the ranked matches, the tournaments, and the seasons. We will have our league play…we can have people play in different leagues. And we also want to work with the community, so if you want to run your own event, you can. We will try to steer people into a direction and then, of course, Bethesda in general…we aren’t talking much about it now, but we do want to support and foster more of an eSports environment with all Bethesda titles that are appropriate.

Any update on what we can expect for specific modes?

We will have Deathmatch and Dual- and Team- Deathmatch, but if you get too many, you run into splitting everything up. We will roll those out, but we just need to be careful that we don’t have all of our players playing different things. But yeah, we will figure out which ones we need.

Competitive shooters are very successful on consoles, but we won’t see Quake Champions on PS4 or Xbox One?

Well, no excuses, no limitations…we want to keep the scope and the focus tight, and we feel that because we want to make it a 120Hz game, we need ridiculous input sampling. We want to attract those guys that are going to spend their days in competitions, and we feel that if you want a true competitive eSports multiplayer game, being on PC is the place to be.

When can we look forward to playing the game? Any ideas on the business model?

I’m not going to be dodgy. We have no clue. This is our challenge: We need as many people as we can to play and we can’t make anyone upset about our business model. So if you come up with an idea, email me and I will credit you with it.

The beta starts next year and it’s going to be a long beta. We are going to start small and we will just keep adding people. Then we will make some changes and add some more people, and then at some point, we will rip off “closed” and call it “open.” And at some point, rip off “open” and call it “done.”