Quantum League Moves to Open Beta on Feb 21st - First Impressions

February 20, 2020
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In a period where cartoonish arena shooters are a dime a dozen, how do you stand out from the crowd? Nimble Giant’s Quantum League takes a novel approach to rounds, respawns and time to help it rise above its peers and carve its own spot, away from hero abilities or twitch reflexes. 

In 1v1 or 2v2 matches, things start simple enough. Spawning into close-quarter arenas, you’re set to either capture a single point before the enemy or kill the opposing team. At the end of each round though, the game rewinds like a VHS tape from the days of yore and you observe everything that occured from the end to the start of the round. 

If you weren’t already aware, he’s on the red team.

Then, you start round two with the same rules as before. Except this time your ghost is also playing, repeating exactly the same steps that you made on the previous round. Well, until the enemy intervenes and kills them, of course. This repeats each round, with a possible total of four ghosts for each player active at once during a five-round match.

You might wonder what the point of these ghosts is, seeing as they won’t actively target the enemy, and it took a while for the strategic benefit to click for me as well. It wasn’t until a few games in, when I took up a strategic position out of sight that overlooked the control point, that I understood. I sprayed my SMG in the vain hope that in a later round, the enemy would fall foul of my ghost’s ambush. 

The point of the early rounds is to lay traps. I also found success with selecting the grenade launcher (one of five weapons you get the choice between) at the start of a round and spamming grenades into particular corridors that I expected the enemy might take in later rounds. 

Each match opens vibrantly and with wonderfully stylised loading screens.

It’s worth pointing out though that friendly fire is enabled; a lot of the fun I had with this game occurred when my carefully laid ghost traps turned on me and I’d run foul of a friendly shotgun blast or a cacophony of grenade explosions from a previous life. This escalating nature of chaos as more and more ghosts enter the scene makes for some great final moments and I only wish there were more players in each match, beyond the max of two per team, to further accentuate the disarray.

In fact, the arenas felt quite empty, even when there were a few ghosts per player in the match. I suspect because the ghosts don’t react to approaching players it’s hard to provide that feedback to the player’s actions, especially when it’s 1v1 and there’s only two intelligent players stalking each other. Many of my games felt like I was just playing a bot match, and I would only occasionally see a human opponent. 

This isn’t helped by how sluggish the moment-to-moment gameplay feels. Characters move excruciatingly slowly and you sometimes feel like you’re trudging through mud on the way to a control point. It seems an odd pairing for an arena shooter with quick rounds, especially one with such a sporty aesthetic, and I wonder if the games wouldn't be a little more exciting if the characters had greater momentum. The rewind effect at the end of each round suffers from this slower pace as well, with there being little of interest to focus on while you’re being whizzed back to the start line. 

Overall though, I think Quantum League has real potential to grow into a strategic arena shooter that can hold the attention of a famously fickle fanbase, and I only hope they further improve the gameplay to match the unique time-warping concept. 

The open beta of Quantum League goes live on February 21st, 2020.

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Harry Schofield

I've been obsessed with gaming since my dad sat me down to play QBasic Gorillas. Being a games writer, I tend to lean towards anything with an evocative sense of space, such as immersive sims or horrors. I'm still waiting for a Lovecraftian American Civil War game.