In advance of Quake Live's debut on Steam, the game has undergone a major update that changes some fairly fundamental aspects of play. Players may now choose which primary and secondary weapons they spawn with, visual item timers have been added and an automated form of strafe-jumping has been implemented. The changes are all intended to make the game more welcoming to newcomers, and as you might predict, not everyone is happy about them.
"Quake is a masterful game of skill, often compared to Chess by its veteran players. However, with that depth has come a challenge to welcome and capture new players long enough for them to discover the joy to be found in what many consider the finest Deathmatch game ever made," the Quake Live team wrote in a message posted today . "For new players, it has been quite clear what the greatest barriers are: effectiveness on spawn, movement, and item control. These elements on several levels also make our game great, so we wanted to see what could be done to make the game a more enjoyable experience, all while teaching players a bit of the meta-game depth."
The full list of changes is detailed in the post and it's pretty extensive, including a new weapon, various rule changes, a higher-resolution font and widescreen HUD support, and the removal of the Chaingun and Nailgun from "several" Arena maps. But the changes that seem to be attracting the most attention are the ones related to the aforementioned "barriers," specifically:
There's been some positive reaction to the changes but there's an awful lot of unhappiness too. Some players are upset that the update ignores what they see as more pressing problems in the game, while others assert that they diminish its skill-based nature; at least one poster said it will ultimately do more harm than good by leaving new players unprepared for the demands of other, less accommodating arena shooters they might encounter at some future date.
It is actually possible to stick to the old-fashioned way of doing things, more or less. "For players who wish to largely avoid the new major changes, the legacy style of play has been preserved within a 'Classic' ruleset," the developers wrote. "All of our public Duel servers run in Classic mode. Subscribers may host additional classic servers using our 'Create Match' feature. This includes the launching of Standard Classic servers, which any player may freely join."
Even so, the majority of forum posters seem solidly set against the update. But is it really that bad—is Quake Live really being "ruined," as so many posts insist—or is it much ado about nothing? We won't know for certain until it's had some time on Steam to build up a new audience (or not), but I'm rather strongly inclined to think (and certainly hope) that it's the latter.