Having begun life as a community project on a modified version of the QUAKE engine, the original Nexuiz was a groundbreaking free-to-play title. The popularity of the original lead to the interest from Illfonic, and with that all had changed. Using the CryENGINE 3 as it’s basis, Nexuiz looked every bit the aggressive, modern arena based FPS that it needed to. And with a publisher such as THQ backing it’s launch, it was destined for great things. Sadly, the latter part of that chain proved to be a weak link.
The tale of Nexuiz is one of interstellar hatred. Of two races not joined by a Romeo & Juliet warring of houses, but by a brutal galactic broadcast. What started as a feud developed into war, taking both the Kavussari and the Forsellians home planets in its wake. Such devastation forced the two races into a truce, but hatred does not just get swept under the rug. Now they compete on the grand stage, a kill-or-be-killed league known as The Nexuiz Competition.
Nexuiz Runs the Competitive Gauntlet
With that as the setting and a history involving the innovative QUAKE franchise, any serious gamer over the age of thirty-five will surely be able to predict where we go from here. Nexuiz is a no-holds-barred, high-speed FPS in which every action has a repercussion. In 2012, Nexuiz brought you QUAKE III: Arena and Unreal Tournament, spit-polished and brought kicking-and-screaming onto modern hardware. There’s no place to hide, and nowhere to run: Nexuiz was all about the bigger guns and the better aim.
Of course there would be many who hadn’t experienced such fast-paced combat before. To bring players up-to-speed Nexuiz provided customisable bot matches. Unless you’d been playing arena shooters everyday since their heyday in 2000, it was unlikely that you’ll have a good time jumping straight into online matches without a little practice first. The bot matches provided all the same gameplay mechanics as when playing online. Both Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag were available, and allowed players to adapt to the pace, weapon set and Mutators of Nexuiz.
Nexuiz Reinvented Mutators
It was the Mutators that were arguably Nexuiz’s ace-in-the-hole. They were the reason to get excited, and have been iterated upon many times over in the decade since. Players have a series of Mutators available which affect the way matches are played, and can be activated mid-match. Simple additions such as decoys and team location alerts are placed alongside infinite ammo and health regeneration bonuses. There were even more oddball additions such as the piñata mode, in which all kills result in a bounty of ammo and weaponry. Unreal Tournament has long been the frontrunner in the field of ruleset mutators. However, in Nexuiz it wasn’t just another option on the menu. It was a mid-match tactical strike. And one that could turn the tide very quickly.
As with any modern FPS, Nexuiz wasn’t just a case of one-off matches against unknown foes. The game offered a levelling system to work your way through – although it’s not labelled as such – in which you could upgrade Mutators and unlock new ones. A simple and necessary addition, it provided a reason to return to the battlefield with or without friends online.
Nexuiz featured nine maps and a small number of character models, of which the player was afforded no customisation options. A simple choice between light, medium or heavy armour was all that was provided, and this is merely a cosmetic decision with no bearing on in-game performance. The level design was clearly a product of iteration. Many nooks and crannies provided ample sniper spots without becoming unreachable to newcomers. Plus there were a few open bowls for quick brawls. It wasn’t a sophisticated design. But then, the rush-shooting brawls of Nexuiz could hardly be said to be a thinking-man’s game.
So, What Happened?
There’s no doubt that Nexuiz was an impressive modernisation of a decade old formula. For many it was seen as a return to form for the FPS genre, having grown weary of the strive towards realism. Sadly, Nexuiz‘s life was cut short. The bankruptcy of THQ lead to the servers for the Xbox 360 and PC versions being taken offline just one year after launch. Even sadder, the PlayStation 3 version was canned altogether. Whether Nexuiz could’ve had the same impact as it’s original community project will never be known, but it’s legacy can still be felt in competitive FPS titles today.