Crucible is the brand new free to play title from Amazon Games. Developed by Amazon’s in house Relentless Studio it takes the well-prepared format of the team-based third-person shooter and ties in moba-esque elements. Yes, you heard that right and no, this isn’t Battleborn 2.0. There are many aspects to the game that will keep players engaged and the developers are working hard to further improve the game. I’m sure some people have heard of this game by there’s a definite divide in opinion between those who may like and dislike it. There is a lot of controversy around this game and let me start off with this, if you’ve tried it and it’s not your cup of tea, then move on. If you did play and liked it or think it has potential, make sure to leave feedback on the reddit. If you’re here to find out what I think and you’re still here reading at this point, I would like to state that I’m a Play Crucible partner. This in no way shapes my review of the game. This is just an honest review of someone who feels the game has a lot of potential and that it is their kind of team based shooter game.
Wake Up And Smell The Essence
Crucible is a unique take on the traditional third-person team-based shooter. Log into Crucible for the first time and it’s no surprise to see a healthy roster of heroes waiting for you. There are 10 of these hunters to choose from ranging from melee, close range, and long-range characters. Each of the hunters has a particlar set of traits, some great voice acting, and a distinct personality of their own. As a free to play title, that means a ton of other glitter and polish with cosmetic tags, voice lines, and the rewards to make your fighter feel even more dapper. It is going to feel fairly standard for any top tier hero shooter and if you caught our earlier reveal trailers, you’ll know what we’re talking about. Despite that familiarity, and while this line up of characters pulls plenty from established arena archetypes, there’s definitely a solid set of choices for a range of skill levels and play styles in Crucible.
Take a step beyond the opening moments of this new adventure and you’ll find a massive play area awaits. Just like the character roster, the surface of Crucible is familiar but entirely alien at the same time. Set in another world where Essence is the key to survival, the terrain varies wildly from high tech harvesters to weird shrubbery that probably isn’t safe to touch for too long. Between many of the multiple objectives, players might even find wildlife that manages to make the local population feel something like a massive stampeding flower. It all succeeds in making Crucible feel strangely familiar and if there’s anything to be said when you first step out into Crucible, it is that it really does look fantastic.
Once the wonder of this unusually alien world fades, it might be worth getting down to business. The first thing you will notice in combat is that it isn’t all run and gun. There are moba-esque elements of leveling and “creeping” while doing team objectives across the map.
There are currently two game modes; Heart of The Hives (HotH), which is the main mode and the most competitive, and Harvester Commander (HC), which is more of an arcade mode to learn the game in. Your goal as a team, is to either collect the hearts (like capture the flag) in the HotH or maintain and capture the harvesters in HC (like dominion). While completing these objectives, and between player engagements, you will want to farm or creep minions around the map and take ownership of minor objectives that spawn randomly through the map. The map is fairly large, but what separates it from most team shooters is you get to pick how you engage in this arena, as you’re not funnelled through a specific part of the environment to fight out a team battle. Each match has its own modifiers and alternate objectives that can have large or small impacts throughout the match, such as; damage amplifiers, health boost pods, mini harvester, and more. Get a better view of these in the video below.
Each character or “hunter” has essence upgrades that are pre-determined before you launch into a match. Aside from that, some of these essence upgrades can drastically change how you approach engagements with your hunter. This is the key, to avoid unfavorable engagements, which is done by proactively “scanning”. As you go through the tutorial, you will see a mechanic in the game called scanning, which allows you within a certain distance to scan for enemies and wildlife. This means that you can see where the enemy is moving and set up for a more favorable fight or to set up a gank. Every hunter is self sufficient, being able to carry and find med kits around the map to heal. This is a key separating item between newer players and more experienced players, healing in engagements. It takes about 4 seconds to use one, and there are many different ways to get a heal off mid-fight. Among this are flora among the map, that can heal, turn you invisible, or lay a nasty damage over time and slow if someone decides to run through it. This adds another layer of how you disengage from a fight and can quickly recover to join back in. Other than that, as mentioned you want to control harvesters for gradual essence over time and kill the baddies of the land to power deep into the game’s character progression system, hopefully gaining a level advantage against your enemies. Some levels like level 5 unlock the most important essence upgrades and can drastically change a match from losing to winning if you keep the farm up. You also have “drops” for respawn mechanics, in which you can spawn within predetermined areas on the map to get back to the fight or go after a different objective. There are a few more aspects to the game that can help change a game around, so never think a game is too far gone to win.
There a lot of depth in the game that some players may gloss over initially. There are so many ways to turn a match around, if you’re coordinated and focus on controlling the map the best you can. It’s nearly impossible to snowball a match unless you just lack severe team work. There are compositions that are more favorable than others, but overall you can play just about any character and be effective, so long as you or your team plays to their strengths. This is where picking correct engagements and dealing with objectives preemptively comes into play. If a hive is spawning in a minute or less, you want to start heading there and controlling the area so you can pick the fight and the enemy has to come to you. After taking some time to dig into the mechanics, it’s understandable why many newer players might play to chase kills. This is great if you’re a killing maniac but winning a match in Crucible can be difficult if you simply don’t play objectives correctly.
This is likely the breaking point for many players of other shooter titles. While games like Overwatch or even Paladins provide clear goals and a straight line to the finish, Crucible tries to differentiate itself from the straight shooting competition. The moba-esque aspect really shines through during games and requires that players track multiple things at a time. Whether you’re trying to capture harvester units to boost your team’s progression or harass your competitors while co ordinating with the rest of your team, there is always more than one thing to do and enough room on a mpa to make tactical thinking count.
While there are still lots of improvements to be done, the developers are quickly focusing their efforts to polish the game and to implement feedback from players. This even includes a fairly common request for a mini map, which might go some way to alleviating the learning curve on newcomers. There are other problems with Crucible, many of which almost every competitive title struggles with. Latency never goes away, because physics happen, while afkers are a problem some of our team encountered at early stages. Despite this, the game still is enjoyable. There is a lot of unneeded hate on the game on steam reviews and other content channels, simply because they didn’t quite understand the depth of the game, or chose to not see past the fixes that will eventually be implemented to improve the game. If you enjoyed the game, keep giving feedback and let the developers know what you want to see. They already are focused on putting in-game voice and chat in among other quality aspects. I’m sure in a month or maybe even less, we will see the game turn around as the player base has already started to go back up. I’m going to keep playing it here and there and simply enjoy the game for what it is now and look towards the future as it is still the most fun shooter to play for me. Thank you Amazon Games Studio and Relentless Games for the chance to play and enjoy this title! Check out more about Crucible over at the official website and get in on the action on PC now.