Challenge the Crucible
A week ago, it was reported that Amazon’s free-to-play shooter Crucible was off to a precarious inception. A little over 2,000 players were online, a rather underperforming listing coming from a big company such as Amazon. In fact, I only heard about it after scrolling through my morning news feed to discover that Amazon had published a game almost no one was talking about.
Before reading more about the game’s reception, I decided to dedicate a few hours to Crucible to give it my own opinion. And after five hours of trying out the game’s three modes and differentiating characters, I’m a little unimpressed.
A Quick Overview of Crucible
Crucible seems to be comprised a few notable elements from other popular shooters in the industry right now. Once you complete the brief tutorial to get accustomed to the controls, you’re treated to 10 heroes to choose from, each with their own abilities, personality, and story (as explored through unlockable logs you can listen to). Some of the more notable individuals you will run across and most likely get killed by are Captain Mendoza, your run-of-the-mill military man; Tosca, a hopping evil genius that can be quite sneaky in combat; Drakahl, a scarred beast who can dominate the battlefield with his ax; and Sazan, a one woman army who utilizes energy to supply her ammunition and prowess.
Each character is equipped with five levels of perks comprised of Essence upgrades they can use while collecting the resource during battle. Essence is essentially a material mustered by killing the alien wildlife and capturing Harvesters that’s applied to you and your team’s five levels throughout the match. Some of the perks can be switched out for another applicable one for the chosen character, and these can range from obtaining cloaking privileges with jumping, boosting up your melee attacks, adding more slots for weaponry ammunition, adding more agility to dashing, and several other boosters.
The entire hero selection is vastly influenced by team-based shooters such as Overwatch and Paladins, where each hero possesses distinctive abilities to help themselves and their teammates in the midst of a firefight. You can spot enemies, stick close to squad members for better playability, and capture Harvesters together while fending off the opposing team. Harvesters are one of the main points of success in Crucible that are captured and held to provide Essence, health, and points for your team. They’re imperative to victory in the game’s third mode, Harvester Command, and are helpful establishments to capture for aid in Heart of the Hives (destroy and collect multiplayer matches) and Alpha Hunters (Crucible’s battle royale), the two remaining PvP modes in Crucible.
Space Crawl and Repeat
From thereon, it was now a case of experimenting with what the free-to-play shooter had to offer. I tried out most of the characters in all three modes, and I found myself being attached to Sazan in Heart of the Hives. Switching between her rifle, shotgun, and throwing knife proved to be an exhilarating activity when I would take out an opponent and then proceed to capture a Hive’s Heart alongside my three team members. I would casually gun down the aliens to gather more Essence for us as we would make our way to the next Hive point, for the opposing team could be encountering us halfway through the arena. But once you are gunned down yourself, you start to feel the boredom weigh in on you as you wait to respawn back into battle. Half the time, once awaiting an additional five seconds after pressing respawn for the pod sequence, I ended up just sprinting to the next location until I would run into trouble again.
During my five hour runtime of trying out Crucible, I found one-third of my matches to crash and restart the game. Something dubbed the “Heartbreak Issue Error” would buffer the game to a crawl and take you out of the match. If it wasn’t for the “rejoin” option after logging back in, this error would probably ruin the game entirely. Luckily, it’s one of the only issues that could hinder the overall Crucible experience amid its initial run.
It becomes tedious after you been playing for only a couple of matches. Running and shooting down a few alien animals and then getting gunned by a couple of opponents only to wait for a pod sequence and spawn far away can start to become a drag. The shooting mechanics are pretty fair for a free-to-play game, though some fine tuning can turn the firefights into more worthy encounters. For team-based gameplay, there’s really not a lot of creative synergy that can be conjured between the characters. It eventually just comes down to using your abilities, sprinting away, and spamming bullets into your opponent until one of you dies. It gets repetitive, and quite quickly, even during one of your first matches upon logging on.
As you progress through Crucible‘s Battle Pass (which was basically free since the game thanks the joining player with 1,000 credits for in-game goods, including the Pass), you’ll unlock character skins, drop pods, emotes, voice lines, and audio logs for your heroes. This is one of the sole aspects of the game where it shines. There’s more personality to the heroes than I initially thought, and I got to learn a bit more of the lore behind the Crucible through the logs. Unfortunately, who knows how it could take me to unlock them all, since I’m already growing weary of playing the game.
What Crucible lacks the most is a certain adrenaline rush that many games provide when an online virtual war is in session. It could be Apex Legends‘s fast-paced run-and-gun madness; Paladins‘s intense team clashing; Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s old-school shooting that players can’t get enough of – all had a rewarding gameplay quality to their free-to-play structure, and they all keep players coming back for more.
Could it be a dearth of polishing? Maybe the world of Crucible itself needs a bit more of a variety with wildlife and scenes? I could think only a few reasons as to why Crucible might be crumbling through this post, but after researching the game a bit more and keeping up to date with the Steam Chart stats, it’s evident as to why it might not be succeeding.
By the end of the five hour period of playing Crucible, I found the overall experience to be lackluster in trying to do something different aside from its fellow industry competitors. Crucible itself feels a lot less like a competitor for streaming domination and more so like a bottom-of-a-barrel selection on Steam when you can’t find something else to play for a moment or two.
We’ll see how Crucible develops within the summertime here on The Nerd Stash. Let us know what you think of the game down in the comments below!