One of the lead Quake Wars developers summed it up best as we were basking in a post-playtest glow of fading adrenaline. “I think we’ve found the perfect balance of chaos.” After three hours of matches on some near-complete maps, it’s hard to disagree.
There were worried murmurs when it was revealed the game’s vast maps would be optimized for a scant 24 players, but this isn’t a problem. Quake Wars even works with three players to a team, because like Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, matches are all about the objectives: repair this bridge, drive this vehicle to here, defend this terminal. Each completed objective takes territory away from the defenders, pushing the frontline back across the map and changing how the game plays in the process.
One map we played started with the Strogg establishing a foothold in a village, then things got more open and vehicles got bigger as they crossed the bridge to put the finishing touches to a laser dropped from orbit... which then blew the doors off a lab they had to plant explosives in for a vicious climax.
Each of the 12 maps tells a different story and has you constantly changing tactics. Every second you’re assessing the situation, frantically thinking how you can best influence it as whichever of the five classes you’re playing.