Quakelike: Warsow

Bored of your arena FPS of choice, or want to try something new? Quakelike are a series of articles looking at some alternative arena shooters that you may not have heard of.

From launching the game, it is clear that Warsow is very much aimed at competitive play. From the initial screen being a news feed of esports events to bot games being hidden behind the online play, Warsow makes it very clear what it aims to do. But does it do it well?

Straight into a game you will find that it is all about movement. If you stay still chances are that you will not last long at all. Bunny-hoping is the main way that most people will traverse the maps but is by no means the best. Strafe jumping is a factor here, but with the very high movement speed, it will take a long time to master it even if you are a strafe jumping expert in other games. However even if you do find yourself losing all momentum, there is a key (RMB by default) that allows fast acceleration from stationary to get you initially moving. Once you are moving however, that key can be used for launching off various surfaces giving you a lot of height or distance off one jump.

Nearly all of the maps are designed with the fast movement system in mind with slopes everywhere and tricky jumps for rapid movement around the map. While this brings a lot of interesting gameplay into the mix, it also greatly increases the gap between new and experienced players. The general design of the maps is pretty good across the board and features a good variety that suits the various different game modes.

As far as game modes go, there are all the standard ones that you would expect from this genre: deathmatch, capture the flag, clan arena etc. As well there is a race game type that makes a fun change to the usual competitive formats and really fits in well with Warsow’s movement system. If all of the game modes still bore you, there are many community game modes available that provide some interesting, if confusing, gameplay.

Weapons are practically parallels of ones that you will find in Quake; the only difference being the starting weapon which is a sort of mini rocket launcher with a powerful melee attack, although it is near impossible to stay within melee range for enough time to use it. Splash damage on all weapons seems to be very small. When combined with the fast movement, it makes a few of the projectile based weapons very tricky to use. While projectile speed tends to be higher than you might expect, I still found that hitscan weapons were a lot more effective in most situations at  lower level play however this could change in high level play.

As with all arena shooters, multiplayer is where the focus is. With a dedicated community following, you can be sure there is always a server with people on it that you can play with. Failing that, there is also an active forum and irc presence for the game where you can go and set up matches with people or just talk with the game’s community. Bot matches are also included if you don’t feel like playing against other people, although they are hidden behind the server browser. I have found the AI of the bots to be quite impressive and quite challenging at the higher levels, leading to an experience that is just as difficult as some online matches.

All of the systems in Warsow make it a game that requires a lot of skill to get into and even more skill to get good at, but once you are there you will find that the game is a balanced and very fun competitive environment with enough content to keep you satisfied for a long time. The level of polish on the game is very impressive at times and the experience is so consistently good that if you are in to it, it will get you coming back again and again. It is just a shame of the extremely steep learning curve.


Warsow | FREE | Windows/Mac/Linux | http://www.warsow.net/

Got an arena shooter that you think is interesting? Poke darkelink in the irc and I will probably go have a look at it.