By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I had a hard time quantifying exactly what Crossout is. It’s a free-to-play MMO, but it’s also a team-based shooter where you create the vehicle in which you offer destruction to your enemies. I did not expect to have as much fun as I did, and it’s due to a variety of reasons. So let’s talk a little bit about what the game is. In Crossout, you build a tank, or a jeep. Or whatever you have the parts for, and enter battle against another team who has done the same. The matches are blissfully short, and you have fairly standard objectives: Destroy the other team, capture the enemy team, two teams, one objective, go capture it. However, if you obliterate the other team, they can’t get that objective either. I have seen some absolutely remarkable builds though! In fact, there’s a button on the main screen, Exhibition, where you can show off your work to be praised by others. I mean, someone built a train, a Delorean, a school bus, even a damn refrigerator! With enough matches, time, and effort, you can literally build anything your heart desires. You can also save the blueprint of these designs, to change them, or to utilize them yourself, if you have the parts for it.
That’s the key, having parts. So that leads to the big question that every free to play asks: “Is this going to be pay to win?” and I’m honestly not sure. The vehicle I’m using is from one of the packs, and it’s pretty damn strong. But I’ve been absolutely smashed by rocket builds, machine gun builds, shotgun builds…and I think I hate melee builds the most, especially ones that can tip you over. More on that in a bit. Let’s talk acquisition though, and consider the “pay to win” aspect. To get coins you can sell stuff on the marketplace, items you win in battle that you aren’t going to use, rewards from crates, et cetera. Or… you can buy them on the in-game store. It doesn’t say that I can yet, but I assume that will change in the “open beta”. Will being able to purchase better weapons through money put you on a higher playing field? Sure, that is if your rig can afford the energy drain of it. But with enough money, I’m sure that won’t be an issue. However, these don’t offer you more skill, or stop you from behind wedged upside down in between a series of rocks, that even a jack can’t get you out of. If your team can reach you, they can help you out, but odds are, they’ll get stuck too… I do think it’s pay to go faster. On the other hand, I do think it’s pay to win, but that’s because of the grind. The endless, relentless grind to acquire new weapons.
The best part of this game is the actual in-game action. It all falls apart, if you will, when you consider how long you have to play to get ahead, short of having coins. So how do you get coins without spending money on vehicles to break down and sell the rare parts? You have to craft them. And crafting takes forever. You have to win, and win, and win. You have to join specific maps to get wire, or shotguns, or electronics, or whatever you need. For example, to create the Rare Shotgun “ST-M23 Defender,” you need 450 Scrap, 50 Copper [Mostly gained in raids], and certain parts: LM-54 Chord Machine Gun, two Small Wheels, and two Dockers. God help you if you want to build Legendary parts. The grind can take days, but most likely will take weeks to get this stuff normally. Unless you’re lucky enough to get whole armaments in some of the crates you can acquire, it’s rough. Which is unfortunate, because this game is immensely fun. I think the simplest fix is to lower some of the costs of building, or increase the amount of parts you gain from wins by a decent factor. Only the most hardcore are going to work that grind without going insane. Now thankfully, the matches are very fast. Typically no longer than two or three minutes. Missions can be won, lost, or drawn in about two minutes; raids are even shorter, if you fail them. I think this is the biggest drawback to Crossout. If you stand your ground without paying, you are up against a monumental mountain of a grind. Sure, you can buy one of their pre-built pieces of vehicular destruction. Or you can group with people and they can help you get the parts you need, while you do the same for them. Winning certain types of matches can grant you DIY kits which can give you rare parts, and some other stuff. Personally, my advice is to build what is comfortable for you, but to also find parts that give Reputation Bonuses. I have a few of them strapped to my tank. The more you do in battle, the more Reputation you gain, which gives you levels with factions. Receiving X level will unlock more Factions, which is more stuff to acquire. You can also gain Blueprints from these factions, which can be built from their parts. So there’s a bit of help there, but you have to level up to get those, which requires a lot of wins. The rep grind is pretty slow as well. These are minor things that can be fixed without ruining the game or changing it.
But what is it doing right? The rest of the game! The actual gameplay is incredible. Once you have a decent vehicle, you have a few options. First you have Missions. These have no cost, tend to have incredibly fast matchmaking times and each queue offers a different reward. Shotgun, Wires, Electronics, Cabin, Cannons, etc. You can win a certain amount of these, and the limit resets after a fixed moment in time [about a week]. These are simple: Queue up, get in there, kill people. Like I said earlier, there are a few possible match types here, and the actual battles won’t last longer than five minutes. I love this. You also have Raids, which are PVE missions with generally low match times as well. But completing conditions adds time on, to help you get it done without taking a loss. These require Fuel, which refills every day, or you can buy it on the player-run market. Or.., you can attach a fuel barrel to your ride! Sure, if it gets hit, you can die from the explosion, but if you win with it on, you gain 25 units of fuel! High risk, high reward. Then you have Brawls, which reset after a certain amount of time, and the winner gets scrap and a DIY kit, that I discussed earlier. Despite the amount of matches you need for worthwhile items [that’s if you win, mind], it’s still crazy fun! You can play with all kinds of damn vehicles! Insanely fast, turbo-charged light-weight machine-gun wielding maniacs, or you can be like me! I prefer heavy, slow, thick armor, with a gigantic cannon on top. It’s got a crap rotation/aiming function because the actual gun doesn’t move, but damn if it’s not effective. I paired it with twin machine guns that actually can move, so I can pelt them with bullets while I get into position for the game changer.
That’s another thing that I love about this game. As you fight, you can blow off pieces of your enemies’ vehicles. Knock the guns off, blow up their fuel tank, destroy their main source of damage. This doesn’t mean you’re out of it though. It’s only the end for you when you explode. Teamwork and strategy wins games in Crossout, so what do you do when you lose all of your guns? Body block for your team! Take a few bullets for them, or ram full-speed and tip someone over/push them off a cliff, into some rocks, anything! Just because you don’t have guns doesn’t mean you can’t get work done. That’s why you should also consider having a build that has a melee weapon on it, spinning blades, a ram, whatever! This is definitely a tactical game, whether it seems like it or not. Just because you are out of ammo, out of guns, or out of health, doesn’t mean you can’t be an effective part of a team. I won a match for my team with no guns, because I just hauled ass to their base, where no one waited for me. I just did donuts and watched out for the other side, claiming the point. It’s only over when time runs out, or you die. Building your vehicle, and doing battle are really the selling points of this game. I think that if they just adjust how you get parts, it will increase the general joy of playing this game.
Welcome to the Wasteland
I do love the concept of Crossout a lot. It’s a new look at squad-based combat/team shooters, because there are no classes, really. Each player can have something unique and special, whatever their heart desires… as long as they’re willing to put in the time and/or money. You don’t have to spend money, but it sure will help. But based on the actual gameplay mechanics, it’s phenomenal. If they just consider adjusting how you acquire stuff, I think it will be one of the best free to play games I’ve encountered in years, and that’s not hyperbole. The stages are gorgeous, the possible customization is literally endless, the more power you can get to that monstrosity, the more ludicrous things you can do with it. This is the best post-apocalyptic game I’ve had the pleasure to come across, and it’s very “Mad Max” in the best way. I appreciate that they’ll fill the PVP mode with bots if there aren’t other players queueing, and I love that it’s a strategy/tactical game. Playing this with friends could be one of the most fun experiences you have on the Internet.