It's not very often that we get something that truly shakes up the FPS genre. For the most part, new shooters feature new settings or storylines, but they hardly look to redefine the core mechanics. Nimble Giant Entertainment has taken that task and knocked it out of the park with the creation of its time-paradox shooter Quantum League, and to mark the game's launch out of Early Access, I've spent the last few days exploring what it has to offer.
Built as a competitive FPS, Quantum League sees players compete against one another in an arena where time is both an ally and a foe. The idea of the game is to eliminate (or desync) your opposition and to capture an objective. Seems pretty straight forward, right? Well, the catch is that players get three lives, three lives that are represented in three different time loops, meaning you can stop your former self from being killed by eliminating your killer first. Yes, it can be a little confusing to understand, but so is time.
Essentially, the game works in such a way that it allows you to correct mistakes or capitalise on opportunities that happened in the past. The game does play in the present, meaning you always have a live foe trying to gun you (or former 'yous') down, but former rounds also happen during this very instance. You have to become a protector and an assassin, as you look to save past versions of yourself, or likewise look to execute current and former versions of your foe to be able to safely approach the objective to score points, to win games.
As Quantum League plays as a first-person shooter at its core, there really isn't too many mechanics to harp on about. The time loop factor of the game occurs at the end of every round, meaning you cannot avoid or control it. The shooting mechanics on the other hand are all on you, and they feel responsive, snappy, and well-designed, as all great FPS's should. There really isn't all that many other mechanics to be aware of, sure you can melee, ADS, and sprint, but these are hardly revolutionary ideas. When eliminated/desynced in the present time loop, you can still move and play the game, meaning you can look to destroy explosive barrels to help other versions of yourself, or even look to grab a health pack to re-sync and essentially resurrect in that time loop. So, long story short, it's not really over until the loop resets.
There are a few other choices to note. At the beginning of every round, you get to choose the weapon you want to wield. Right now, there are six options and they range from; a sniper rifle that can instantly eliminate a target with a well-placed headshot; a close quarters-focussed shotgun; or even a fully automatic SMG. There aren't all that many options in the game currently, but considering you could switch wield different weapons in each round to bring a new style of gameplay, you won't feel disappointed with the variety.
To build on this, there are also various Athletes to play as. Six are currently available and they each have their own unique skill that could turn the tables of a match. Justin for example, can inflict damage to enemies in future timelines with his former versions. Jackie on the other hand has increased movement speed when eliminated, allowing her to reposition or potentially even grab a health pack. The point is, the abilities aren't as potent as in a hero shooter, but they do have the potential to really shake things up if used correctly.
As for the game modes you can look to participate in, there are two options at the moment: Casual and Ranked. Aside from Ranked featuring a competitive ladder for you to climb, there aren't really any differences between the two. You can however, look to play either solo or with a friend, as the option to flick between 1v1 and 2v2 is available on the main menu, and while the game works great as a solo experience, it's in duos that it really takes shape. Having to work as a unit to not only defeat live opponents, eliminate their former versions, whilst simultaneously protecting your former versions, and scoring points, is about as hectic as it gets. But, the chaos makes the game interesting and keeps it engaging, and no matter how good you are at FPS's, this one will make you want to come back to play some more.
Quantum League isn't perfect however, the game could do with some more arenas, Athletes, and weapons, and right now there isn't all that much progression to be excited about either, outside of the Ranked ladder. You amass Quarks (a currency) from completing games and challenges (such as play a certain amount of matches a week), and can use this currency to buy skins for your weapons and Athletes. Considering these are just minor cosmetic changes, most only change the colour palettes of the weapons/Athletes, some alternative forms of progression would do wonders to make the game even more engaging.
With this being said, Quantum League is really a fantastic game. The blend of tight FPS systems with the strategy that comes with its incredible time loop mechanic makes for a competitive shooter experience unlike anything before it. Whether you are a skilled shooter player, or more versed in strategy, Quantum League and its fantastic perplexing time system will offer something for you.