Since San Francisco ran out of available space, Seattle has metamorphosed into the second American capital of high-tech. Amazon arrived before the other giants of the net and Jeff Bezos' skyscrapers obscure the landscape to the point where you almost think that the entire city center works for it. Among all these employees who tag every day for the delivery giant, there are now also … video game developers. Crucible is the first game developed in-house at Amazon, and we were able to try it out.
But what is this ?
This first born Amazon is at the crossroads of many genres. There is Hero Shooter, moba but also a little Evolve in its DNA. It starts with the choice of a character who has a main weapon and special powers (in the purest tradition of the Hero Shooter), then it quickly becomes a little more exotic. But let's start at the beginning and choose a hunter.
On the character selection screen, Overwatch and Paladins: Kingdom Champions players are on familiar ground. All the archetypes are there: scuff on the cheek and smile of old adventurer proudly displayed, Mendoza is the soldier of the group, there are not 76 ways to play it which makes it perfect for beginners.Tosca combines teleportation and poison to embody to perfection the heroic equivalent of the mosquito while Ajonah is a sniper, with her mines and her grappling hook she reminds Fatale even in the bluish tint of her epidermis. Note that some designs are frankly successful : Earl the space trucker and Bug the robot gardener are concepts that are both original and full of personality.
Once the hunter is selected, he embarks in a space capsule, joyfully catapulted through the stratosphere to the arena where the battles take place, we are greeted by the rustling of the jungle and suddenly, it doesn't no longer reminds of Overwatch at all. The map is wide and open, separated into five areas. Each one sporting its own palette of colors, you pass in an instant from the large sunny full areas of the center to the bluish darkness of the cave then to the ocher atmosphere of the coral canyon. The camera follows us in the third person, a wise choice for an open map where attacks come from all angles.
When the fight breaks out, a hunter has his weapon and 4 abilities. None of them is either wildly impressive or wildly original. What they are, however, is customizable, it is possible before each match to change its hunter a little by varying its capacities. But after a few hours of hacking it is clear that the options are limited. Some players'Ajonah will have a second of invisibility after using their grappling hook while others will have a bonus of damage in the head, but in the end the character plays in the same way. We could still find some interesting variations, capable of changing the way a hunter approaches combat, but these are rare. It will undoubtedly take many hours to fully master a hunter, but the small number of variations and the absence of equipment to buy such as one could find in a moba may well limit the depth of the gameplay.
Back to the part, you will not only hear the buzzing of mosquitoes, but also the heavy and regular footsteps of the creatures that populate the map. Because Crucible mixes its pvp with pve and it is there that it is strongly inspired by moba, to level up hunters must exterminate local wildlife, in the same way that a league of legends player must spend time farming minions. Leveling up not only raises basic stats, but also unlocks the power variants we talked about in the previous paragraph. Do you want your 50% bonus on headshots? So you will have to take your rifle under your arm and shoot the dinosaur up to level 5. Mechanics is interesting because it makes decision making more complex. A player running to join his team will not want to stop to kill a herd, but if this hunting party allows a level gain and the unlocking of his most powerful variant … he will think twice.
This mixture between PVE and PVP is found in all game modes, let's just review them.
In the heart of the hive
The first mode is "Heart of the hive", the hive is the Alpha of the critters that roam the map. It is huge, it does not like to be disturbed at all and it appears on the map every three minutes. The first team to kill 3 and collect their hearts wins the game. This mode requires coordination, because the one who causes the hive while the opposing team waits in ambush condemns his squad to be caught in the crossfire, a state of affairs quickly followed by death. Heart of the hive also requires an optimal use of its time: chasing the hives without taking the time to hunt the small game (it is dinosaurs of the space of 2 tons 5, "small game" is a way of speaking ) it ends up being so late in experience that winning the slightest fight becomes impossible. It is clearly the "pathing" (the ability to move optimally through the map, collecting a maximum of objective in a minimum of time) that will separate the best players from the rest. Especially since the developers were happy to sprinkle a myriad of bonuses across the map, which will make you make additional detours if you want them.
The Alpha Hunter
"Alpha Hunter" is the second mode of Crucible and happens to be the version Battle royale of the game. The base is the classic (no reappearance, an area closes to force the players towards each other), but the title injects a certain originality into the formula. First of all the creatures always populate the map, and it is always necessary to level up, but exterminate a horde of raging dinosaurs … it is not very discreet, we are constantly surprised to look over his shoulder during our hunting parties, similarly we observe the herds grazing peacefully in the distance hoping that a sudden panic among the critters does not betray the presence of another hunter. The second novelty, and that which gives all its spice to "Alpha Hunter", it is the alliances. The match is played in teams of two, but if your teammate bites the dust, you just have to cross the path of another player who has also lost his partner to be able to propose an alliance. At the press of a button, a new squad is formed, you and your new friend can follow you on the mini-map and can no longer inflict damage on you. Only this new friendship is fragile, like an intern in a large company you can be replaced at any time. A new alliance can be formed between your ally and another lone player and it will automatically cancel your agreement. This intelligent mechanic creates an aura of paranoia on the part, we spend the clashes wondering if the hunter who covers our rear is not about to make the trunk with another, and to empty us a charger in the back in passing.
Telling stories even without a script
We would be remiss not to talk about the efforts made by the developers to offer a personality to their heroes. Just because a game doesn't have a single player campaign doesn't mean that its characters should be robots devoid of any personality. Blizzard understood it and developed comics and cinematics around the heroes of Overwatch, Apex Legends understood it perfectly and the personalities of its characters appear through each of their actions, and it looks like Amazon has also received the message. Two characters who reappear in the same place on the map will start a small conversation while they run side by side to join the action. To be completely frank, we are not yet at the level of an Apex Legends in which the characters are literally dripping with personality, here the lines are a little more conservative, a little less exceptional. In addition, the large size of the map means that these improvised conversations do not happen that often, because the size of the map encourages them to separate to cover more ground and collect more bonuses, hunters generally only find themselves for clashes with the opposing team during which attempts to socialize tend to be drowned out by blaster fire.
Little extra attention that we want to salute: each hunter has their own musical theme, which plays while the party is getting ready, and most of them are successful.
Free to play economy
How much will I have to pay to play Crucible? It's very simple, nothing to buy. And then nothing. The title is entirely Free To play, hard cash will only earn you cosmetics. From what we have seen, a skin for your favorite hunter will cost around 10 euros, a price aligned with what we can see among the competitors.
The combat pass (essential since Epic Games demonstrated its full potential) is obviously there, unlike that of Apex Legends which has been long overdue, we are promised that it will be available two weeks after the release of the title (currently scheduled for April 14).
Latest information and not least for a game that wants to be competitive, the server tickrate is currently 31.25, it is far from the 64 that we have on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (and very far from the 128 announced for Valorant) but it is always more than the 20 of Apex Legends (which also make a lot of complaints) the community). No need to beat around the bush, a tickrate of 30 will not satisfy players evolving at a high level and is simply unusable in competition, but we are not there and for now, it is on the sensations that it provides and on its ability to retain players that Crucible must prove itself, much more than on the solidity of its netcode.
Whatever Crucible does, it does it right. The menu is nice, the cast of the characters is worked, the skill ceiling of some hunters seems high and when it is necessary to sprint through an alien jungle to surprise the team that has ambushed our allies, the sensations are there. you. But will all this be enough? With a single map, two game modes, only 10 hunters at launch and above all: many competitors already well established and offering much more content, Crucible could have trouble finding its audience. It takes a strong argument to establish yourself in the crowded F2P market, and our short session unfortunately did not allow us to see the presence of such an argument.
May 05, 2020 at 4:45:46 p.m.