A better Paragon?
Crucible Preview: Will the new Amazon game become a multiplayer hit?
Shipping giant Amazon is pushing into the games market. About four years ago, Amazon Game Studios announced three new titles at TwitchCon, including the sandbox MMO New World and the competitive multiplayer shooter Crucible. For a long time, it was quiet around the potential free-to-play multiplayer hit but on May 20 2020, the game will finally be released.
Amazon Game Studios has kept a low profile for a long time with information about the third-person shooter Crucible. Developer Relentless Studios announced that the ambitious free-to-play title will be released in just under two weeks. In our Crucible Preview, we clarify what is behind the game. After all, it's one of the game highlights in May 2020.
Crucible – What is it all about?
What is Crucible from Amazon Game Studios? Crucible is a multiplayer shooter that combines elements from different genres. The third-person shooter reminds of a multiplayer online battle arena (short: MOBA) like League of Legends or Dota 2. Other elements, however, seem to be borrowed from the genre of Battle Royale shooters like CoD: Warzone or Fortnite. Add to that different characters with various abilities and you get the idea.
It is a heroic shooter with MOBA elements: You choose your hero, called a Hunter in-game, and go into battle for control of the map. Each hero has individual abilities and weapons. At first glance, Crucible looks like a mixture of Apex Legends and Overwatch – but with MOBA elements. We've already seen something similar in the past – Paragon. The latter was made by Epic Games in 2016 and didn't last long as its servers were shut down in 2018. So, we guess there's a free spot to cover that niche genre of MOBA + shooting?
The game modes of Crucible
A total of 10 Hunters will be available upon Crucible's release on May 20, consisting of various aliens, robots, and humans. Together with your teammates, you will fight against all kinds of human and computer-controlled opponents on a vagrant planet on the edge of known space in order to capture targets.
There's one goal: capture essence – a resource that increases Hunter powers. By gathering essence, you level up your character, increase your strength, and improve your skills.
Crucible's fast-paced battles require players to constantly adapt their strategies to situations that are rapidly evolving due to the actions of their opponents and the constantly changing planet. There will be three different game modes to start with: Heart of the Hives, Harvester Command, and Alpha Hunters.
- Heart of the Hives: Here, two teams of four players each will fight against massive boss hives. Each swarm contains a valuable heart. The first team that gets three hearts wins the match. PvP meets PvE.
- Harvester Command: The biggest mode of Crucible. Here, two teams of eight players compete against each other to capture and hold harvesters scattered across the map. The team that manages to empty the resources of the other team wins.
- Alpha Hunter: Oriented around the duos mode of well-known Battle Royale shooters. Eight teams of two fight to be the only ones to survive the battle.
Vice President at Amazon Games Christoph Hartmann revealed:
In Crucible every match is different and the decisions of the players make a significant difference. Every opponent, every team, and every mode has its own dangers and no two matches are the same. Therefore, players must always be prepared for anything that the game world and the other teams might throw at them.
Crucible hunters and the influence on gameplay
The developers have already officially introduced three characters:
- Earl – an interstellar trucker the size of a tank with a matching cannon
- Bugg – a robot botanist whose main concern is to protect his plants
- Summer – former combat champion and welder, whose flamethrowers heat up the battlefield
At the beginning of a round in Crucible, you don't just choose a hunter, you also choose a pre-defined set of skills that are unlocked at levels 1, 3, and 5. If you meet the same character on your opponent's team, it doesn't mean that they play the same way. Depending on the skill set selected, this should allow for very different playstyles.
Sniper Ajonah is sometimes reminiscent of her Overwatch counterpart Widowmaker – as they both share a grappling hook and a spider mine. There's one main difference, though, in Crucible, the gadgets can be upgraded over the course of each round.
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Whether you use leveling up to reduce the cooldown of the climbing hook, to improve mobility, or focus on a more powerful spider mine is up to you. These changes might not sound like much, to begin with, but they do bring a breath of fresh air to the typical hero shooter gameplay.
Due to their unique abilities, the fights also change during the course of a match. Attacks, which you can easily put away at the beginning, sometimes end deadly in the later stages of the game. New skills are regularly added, which opens up completely new possibilities.
There is nothing comparable in Overwatch: Right from the start, you know what Reaper, Junkrat, or Tracer has to offer and can adapt to them. Crucible remains much more unpredictable, especially since every death weighs heavily. Not only because it takes a while until the respawn, but also because after the death you have to go all the way to the fight for one or two minutes.
Crucible and the MOBA elements
By the way, level ups can be achieved by killing AI opponents (might as well call them neutrals) who populate the planet or human enemies. This is where the MOBA elements which we mentioned earlier come into play. Experience points are not only gained by kills as you also get XP for taking over harvesters distributed on the map.
Similar to LoL and Dota 2 it is also crucial in Crucible to gain a level advantage as soon as possible. Much like Heroes of the Storm, you don't level up individually but as a team. A fresh approach, which is supposed to promote cooperative interaction. Here the pattern in the game experience of Crucible becomes apparent: the Free2Play-Shooter uses game elements of known genre sizes but spices them with fresh ideas.
However, the game consequently refrains from typical classes like healer, tank, or jungler. Instead, you rely on your own abilities during the course of a round and resort to medkits or other mechanics distributed on the map for healing.
Crucible meets Apex Legends
In Alpha Hunters mode, Crucible is also reminiscent of Apex Legends and other Battle Royale shooters, but with a twist. If your teammate dies, they're gone for good. So what do you do? You ally with another lone fighter to continue together. As one would expect these alliances do not last forever. When only 3 players are left alive, the teams are no more and the free for all begins. Whoever is the last man standing wins.
Crucible breaks with the well-known formula of most Battle Royale shooters, which results in a fresh game feeling. After all, you are no longer almost without a chance if your partner quickly kicks the bucket. Interestingly, the game doesn't play like League of Legends, Overwatch or Apex Legends, but borrows some of the best ideas to fuse them into a unique blend.
How well this ultimately works and how much fun it is, especially in the long run, is something the players will determine. It remains to be seen whether developer Relentless Studios has managed to balance the classes well and whether the Battle Pass of the Free2Play shooter will captivate the screen in the long run.
Crucible with deep Twitch integration?
Crucible offers yet another exciting system that has not been heard of since its announcement in 2016. At the moment, it is not quite clear what the shooter's deep Twitch integration will look like and if it will even make it into the finished game. We only know this much:
Crucible was originally designed for 12 players. A 13th player was to act as the game master via Twitch, and would not only broadcast the round live but – together with the spectators – also have a direct influence on the game. A bit like in Hunger Games or a less-known Battle Royale game called Darwin Project. Whether the feature has made it into the finished game will become clear later this month.
How much esports potential is there in Crucible?
For us, the question is especially interesting: how suitable will be the new shooter from Relentless Studios for esports? The studio is run by Louis Castle, a co-founder of Westwood Studios, and employs veterans with experience at companies like Activision Blizzard, ArenaNet, and Electronic Arts. Crucible sounds very exciting on paper and if there's enough interest the competitive scene will surely follow.
In comparison to Riot Games' competitor, Valorant, which is also free, Crucible has significantly higher system requirements. While Valorant can be played smoothly even on a potato, the hardware requirements for Crucible won't make it accessible to such a wide audience.
Minimum requirements of Crucible
- Operating system: Windows 7 64-bit
- Processor: Intel i5-3570 or AMD FX-6300
- Working memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphic: GTX 660 or ATI Radeon HD 6950
- DirectX: Version 11
- Network: Broadband Internet connection
- Disk space: 15 GB of available disk space
Recommended system requirements of Crucible
- Operating system: Windows 10
- Processor: Intel i5-6500 (3.2 Ghz) or AMD Ryzen 3 2200G
- Working memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphic: GTX 1060 or Radeon RX 570
- DirectX: Version 11
- Network: Broadband Internet connection
- Disk space: 15 GB available disk space
Those who want to get their hands on Crucible will have a chance to do so from 20 May. The third-person shooter will be launched on Steam and more information about the game will be released on the official homepage.