Update 2/15/2023: Quantum League isn’t 100% dead, but there’s no future updates to the game planned, and there’s no playerbase. That said, the game can still be purchased and played, meaning that I stand by my review. Just now the part where you NEED to grab a friend to play it with is 100% accurate.
I first saw Quantum League about 2 years ago at PAX East, and even though I didn’t play it then, I was interested in the premise. So what is the premise? Simple.
Quantum League is a 1v1 or 2v2 shooter played in rounds, where each round is a 15 second time loop that repeats three times. I enjoy the game, but it can be a little draining after a while, since there are only those two games modes, and you’ll only ever play against humans. For explaining the mechanics, I’m going to talk about the 1v1 mode only.
When a round starts, you have your dude, you have a pistol, and you have five other weapons. The weapons are pretty straightforward, you have a sub machine gun, a sniper rifle, a shotgun, a grenade launcher, and the only funky one, a kinda beam-stick flamethrower. All of them behave pretty much as you would expect from any FPS. In the first round, it’ll just be you and your opponent, and depending on the game mode, your goal will be to either shoot ’em, or be the only person standing on a given capture point at the end of the round, which (big surprise) will most likely involve shooting them. The round will end after 15 seconds, even if you kill them early on.
Loop two is where things get interesting, and where Quantum League really shines as its own game. Like I said above, the game is played in loops, and in round two, you’ll have the same starting locations, weapons, everything else, with the game’s one big mechanic in play: there will now a be copy of you, replaying all your actions from loop one in addition to your normal controlled self. Your opponent gets one, too. They will replay all actions you took in round 1, exactly as you performed them, and they can still be interacted with. In Quantum League, when you die, instead of waiting to respawn or taking other actions, you instead just continue playing, but as a ghost. Your ghost version can’t interact with anything, damage anything, or score. But it can still shoot, move and otherwise do whatever it wants, because there is a very real chance that at some point in a future loop, you might kill the killer before they kill you, and as such, your clone will suddenly remain alive instead, meaning that its actions are now a resource you can use.
Loop three is the same as loop two, except with clones from round one and two, and one big difference: rounds are only scored at the end of loop three.
This time mechanic is the thing that turns Quantum League on its head, and is what makes the game completely different from almost any shooter out there. The key to winning in Quantum League isn’t pure twitch reflexes, or more accurate aim, but to plan your actions, recognize what your opponent will do in response, and then move to anticipate their future actions.
Here’s an example: Iin any given loop one of Quantum League, my preferred weapon is the sub machine gun. The SMG is a medium range weapon, losing at long range to the sniper, short range to the shotgun and beam rifle, and lacks the inherent area denial and angle capacity of the grenade launcher. So why pick it? For me, the SMG is the most effective continual area denial tool in the game. My plan is to move up behind cover, fire a few shots down various angles that I suspect my opponent may try to use in future rounds, punishing them with chip damage if they do, before finally actually moving to try to take out my opponent and win the round. In short, I’m not even shooting at my opponent, I’m shooting at where I think they’ll be in the future.
And this is just a small fraction of the sorta neat stuff you can get up to. There are also respawn globes and a few other mechanics that make the game even mind melting then it starts out as.
The only two big gripes I have with Quantum League are the hyper competitive nature of the game, which makes playing it for a long period of time fairly draining, and the lack of other game modes.
If Quantum League sounds like your sort of game, you can get it on Steam and it looks like a Switch version comes out soon as well, but I haven’t played it. I really suggest find a friend who also interested, because that way you can do 2v2 matches, and 1v1 matches if no one else is playing at that point in time. The game’s player base is still pretty small.