Preview – Quantum League [Early Access] PC
Quantum League is unlike anything you’ve played before. I’m sure everyone hears that constantly but I doubt it has ever rang more true. See, it’s a competitive FPS that demands heavy cooperation, a genre that’s as common as dirt. The catch, though, is that player’s must cooperate with themselves. That’s right, by using a fantastic ‘time-loop’ mechanic players can save the lives of their previous incarnations, who can then go on to win the round, by eliminating, ‘desyncing’, the opponent that originally took them out. This means it’s also possible to then have your opponent kill the version of you that would have saved your previous self, so that they were never saved in the first place. It’s all Terminator-level stuff and can very quickly mind-flood you, especially if there’s a draw and the round starts again from where each of your copies timed out in the previous one. What? Can’t keep track of the movements and actions of six different player-controlled instances in a 3D space? It sounds incredibly complicated so let me first break it down and make some sense of the gameplay.
Firstly – how does the time looping work? Basically, players control their character for the full extent of a round, even if they have been downed, and everything they do is recorded. So it’s possible to get into position, shoot (albeit to no effect whilst desynched), and even pick up medkits that not only heal but instantly revive if desynced. Then, on consecutive rounds, the recordings of previous loops also play out side-by-side with each player’s new manifestation. Consequently, if one of the now on-rails ‘bots’ gets saved from death, their actions will unfold as planned, so they count towards capturing a point and will shoot just as they were controlled to; potentially into future opponents if you’re a total genius. Doing this is also a huge swing – particularly if blasting an enemy that previously got a double-desync, that’s a three(!) life turn-around and absolutely a key approach.
Sadly there are only currently two games modes in Quantum League to take advantage of this fun and inventive paradoxical gimmick. There is supposed to be a third, domination, but I have never managed to get a game of it. However, the modes I have played seem perfect to show off the capabilities of this new genre. They pretty much function as expected but only take into account the position and kill count of the players when the round ends. This means that to score a point, as the game is currently best-of-three, a player must have more living versions of themselves than their opponent, or have more of those duplicates alive on the point when the round times out. A round consists of three ‘loops’ (each around 15-20 seconds depending on the map) so by the third, there are three characters of each player running around. There’s also the ability to play with a friend in the super-fun and even more exciting 2v2 mode. Yes, that’s right, for a total of twelve trigger-happy lunatics to keep track of by the final loop and I haven’t even mentioned the different weapons yet.
At the start of each loop, players have the ability to choose a primary weapon from a choice of five, with a secondary pistol always being available. The choices are a rifle, SMG, grenade launcher, shotgun, and beam rifle (laser gun!). They are all totally unique and intended to handle every situation imaginable. Is the enemy rushing up close and personal – sounds like a job for a boomstick shotty. A couple of them managed to get on the point for the end of the round – a well placed grenade could handle that. It seems like a really smart approach that would allow players to not only control the field from different ranges and positions but also fit each player’s preferred gameplay style. It’s unfortunate that this is where I start to sour a bit on the title’s current state. It seems to be very obvious to anyone who plays that rushing with a shotgun or SMG is absolutely the way to go. Their ability to do huge damage at range but also function perfectly up close makes them incredibly valuable. And this isn’t just a complaint from me, it’s a common understanding in the community – which Nimble Giant Entertainment either lucked out with or have carefully nurtured because the game’s official Discord server is full of supportive players sharing advice and having a great time.
I actually only originally joined to ask if anyone knew how a player I was facing managed to move so damned fast. Apparently, sprint/sliding into bunny hops greatly increases forward momentum and can allow players to bound across the stage, which actually completely breaks down one map in particular and there are only a couple available for each mode. So anyone that wants to be able to at all compete with players doing this must learn it themselves and thus the cycle continues It’s not the first game to have something like this, of course, but if the developers want it to remain competitive, I believe this movement technique needs to be taught in the tutorial or removed. With that in mind, I think it would also be worth mentioning to new players, or even in the marketing material, that this game is not really for an average shooter player – instead it’s almost entirely about position and strategy; whether to take out enemies from a previous loop that can no longer fight back, or to deny them a healthpack at a critical moment. This was kind of jarring to learn for myself as I felt like I was dominating loop-on-loop but still losing a lot of games early on. Once I grasped it though, it became way more engaging – more like chess with guns than your average COD.
There are many things that need tweaking and touching up as development continues, and of course there needs to be a steady stream of new content because it can very quickly feel like a bit of a drag to constantly see the same two modes, that only have a couple of maps each, especially when forced to play against the same opponent again and again for fear of not being able to find another for 10+ minutes. Still, I think Quantum League is something special. It’s fresh, it’s smart, and I’m seriously happy to see that the developers have a feature roadmap to work through and are listening to their community’s feedback. Whilst for now it’s a challenge to even find a game due to eerily low player counts, I really hope it pays off for the team in the end. This is clearly a labour of love and I would hate for them to miss the mark or have something like the very recently announced Lemnis Gate to steal their thunder. Plus, it’s always great to see the potential of Latin America being tapped in the world of video games – it’s a far too infrequent sight. Saludos, hermanos!