Amazon Studios’ Crucible shooter finally has an release date that is scheduled for this month. The game will be released on the 20th of May exclusively on PC and will be distributed absolutely for free. There is already enough information about the coming novelty in the network, so we decided to collect all known details in this preliminary review.
Crucible develops Relentless Studios from Seattle, a subsidiary of Amazon Games. It is led by Louis Castle, co-founder of Westwood Studios, who played a major role in the development of the Command & Conquer series as well as other games including Dune, The Lion King, Blade Runner and Boom Box. The development team itself includes industry veterans with experience in companies such as Activision Blizzard, ArenaNet, Electronic Arts and Xbox. Crucible will be the first of two major Amazon Games 2020 secrets, followed by the launch of New World in August 2020.
At first glance Crucible can be described as “Overwatch from the third person”, but when you get to know the game, you will quickly realize that this comparison is not quite correct. Even if the basics look recognizable, Relentless Studios has made a number of smart decisions in their debut project that will help you focus on your own hero while maintaining the need for teamwork to achieve common goals. According to the developers, this balance has been achieved through a three-word approach: hunting, level and adaptation.
In Crucible players choose from a list of aliens, robots and humans to interact with teammates, hunting monsters, destroying enemies and capturing targets. The action of this science fiction game unfolds on a distant planet. All characters are trying to get an essence – a resource that enhances the abilities of hunters.
On launch in Crucible will be available 10 different heroes, each with different weapons and abilities. The gameplay behind some of them, such as Summer and Tosca, is built around mobility and control targets. Others, like Drakahl, are focused on close combat and are good at capturing points. And characters like Earl can do serious damage in medium range combat. All hunters have their own personality and peculiarities – it’s easy enough to master them, but it’s much harder to master. In this regard, the game is really similar to Overwatch.
One of the features of Crucible is that the gameplay is fully focused on the offense, fast motion and making the right decisions. Most of the traditional heroic shooters are trying to classify the characters to the usual roles – tank, damage hero, support – but here you won’t find such a clear division. Hunters do not have a special role, and each of them is able to stand up for themselves in battle or fulfill their goals, if you know how to properly position them.
The developers decided not to add different roles to Crucible in order to make the gameplay interesting. At the same time, all hunters have their own game styles, which can suit different gamers. If you like to help your team in every way and treat your allies, you will find a character that will meet your needs, but you will also find that he is able to deal damage, defend himself, hold positions, and cause chaos in skirmishes if necessary. Understanding how to use weapons, abilities and character level is half the fun.
Speaking of levels, you will also have the opportunity to adapt the game style of each hunter. In addition to unique weapons and abilities, each of the heroes has its own set of improvements. Before the start of the match you select a certain character, and the special skill tree will allow you to specify five upgrades, which will be gradually unlocked as the level increases. This adds a really interesting dynamic to the game: you never know which variant of hunter you will encounter, and it guarantees that the battlefield borders will be constantly changing throughout the match.
In the first minutes of any match in Crucible your squad will traditionally break into smaller groups and try to take control of the objects on the map. Early play is very important as it is your only real opportunity to gather the essence without any problems before the key tasks and points requiring your full attention start to appear. Essence is a resource in Crucible, that you earn by capturing the points, killing the enemies and, no less important, the pharma of creatures on the map.
In each game mode you are not only dealing with players from an enemy team, but also fighting a hostile planet on which the game takes place. The creatures are usually neutral to the players and only become hostile if they are provoked. They are also an integral part of unlocking the improvements. When an essence is collected, the level of your team is increased and one of the upgrades you have selected before the match starts is opened. This allows you to use new abilities, improve existing ones, or change character characteristics.
Crucible offers three game modes, each of which has different goals and different team sizes. “Heart of the Hive is a 4 vs 4 mode that makes the best use of most of the game’s mechanics. Both teams run around the map waiting for a giant enemy to spew the hive. It is marked on the screen of all players, and both teams must move towards it to try and destroy it. After reaching this goal, the hive leaves the heart and the first team to capture it wins. This way, you spend every match in a fight against the environment before you get involved in fast intense battles with the other team.
Alpha Hunters is a mode similar to the “Battle of the Kings”, in which eight teams, two players in each, try to destroy each other, and the map slowly narrows over time. The mode still includes the Essence Hunt, which is necessary for pumping. If your ally dies in battle, you will not necessarily be doomed to fight alone for the rest of the match. Instead, you can find another single player and offer him a truce. This system is designed to deprive users of the feeling of hopelessness when they lose a teammate, and at the same time brings dynamics to the game. However, a truce is always only temporary, and if your new team gets to the final, you will still have to fight for first place against the one you recently made friends with.
The rules of the last mode, called Harvester Command, are probably the easiest. Two teams of eight players run around the map, capturing special vehicles that slowly pull the essence out of the ground for your team. The more points you capture, the faster the essence will be calculated and you need to collect 100 units to win. In general, it’s the same mode with point capture, familiar to us from the Battlefield series and other shooters. However, the elements of Crucible are still in place, so you can also go hunting for animals to earn more essences and increase several levels to help in the fight against the enemy.
The combination of PvP and PvE helps the game to convey a fresh gameplay experience, compared to other team hero shooters. Hunting the essence, capturing essence pickers and controlling other resources that appear on the map and give the team bonuses such as health recovery or damage increase are an important part of any match strategy. You may not be ready to fight with another team at some point, but in Crucible you always have something to do before the next timefile.
According to the developers, the game is designed in such a way, that what is happening on the screen will be as clear as possible. The abilities of each character got a thoughtful animation, the shells of the weapon are not Hitscan, so it is always clear who shoots who, and the periods of calm in the matches give the teams enough time to regroup before the next fight. Relentless Studios has close ties to the Twitch platform, as both are under the Amazon umbrella, and the studio used this to make the strips on Crucible interesting to watch.
Crucible is a free game, so without microtransactions in it will not do. Players will be able to receive and buy special credits for real money, which are used to purchase cosmetic items, emblems, banners, combat passes, as well as skins and replicas for the characters. Prices for credit packages range from $5 per 500 to $79.99 per 10,000. You’ll always see what you’re buying, so there’s no need to wait for luthboxes with random items. Also, we are promised a complete absence of Pay-to-Win elements to get stronger for money.
Summing up all the above, we can say with confidence that Cruicible now looks at least curious, thanks to an unusual combination of familiar mechanics, refreshing genre of heroic shooters. However, with one interesting idea is not far away, and we know a lot of examples of games in which it is interesting to spend time only at first, and then they get annoying. If the developers are able to make the gameplay playable and maintain the rate of release of regular updates, the game will definitely take its niche.