Vehicular-combat, besides being a phrase I can not pronounce, is a genre I surprisingly have had a good time with. No, I never got to play any of the classics that tend to be thrown out. Vigilante 8 was my ride, with its tongue-in-cheek silliness. I later picked up Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense, where the insanity ramped off, and tried Vigilante 8 Arcade where the series did its last dive into a burning wreck. So, when I heard of Crossout, I signed myself the hell up. What more could I want than the vehicular-combat of old meshed with building my own junkyard car?
So, after a bit of luck on my part, I snuck into the closed beta of Targem Games’s latest title to give a preview to Crossout.
Like all journeys spent driving around a twisted wasteland, I began with making an engine-on-wheels that would quickly blow up today. Fortunately for me, there were blueprints I could use to make the game build a car for me. I’d then put my gear on it as I rotated along the tiles where I wanted my machine-gun to go.
Suddenly, with a dawning realization, I begun to cut into Crossout like a surgeon, careful not to tear the skin as I peeled it back. That voice was so similar. Once it was skinned, I realized just what I was staring at. “So THAT’S where you’ve been, Banjo Kazooie’s Nuts & Bolts!” I exclaimed.
I should back-pedal on this a bit. In every good way and bad, it is very akin to Banjo Kazooie’s Nuts & Bolts. It is on a grid system with the freedom to rotate and move parts around as you desire, or just load up a blueprint to get into the meat of things. However, you have a limited amount of components to use, and this is where the microtransaction cage falls down with the hatching spider eggs and revealing photos of Margaret Thatcher.
After all, to get more gear you COULD grind the PvP or PvE missions, or you can buy it on the game’s market with a premium currency that is either bought or traded for. This is made more dire as the damn gear breaks if you die too hard, too often. So your first good few hours will be spent in the exact same vehicle from the start, afraid to break equipment that you can’t afford more of.
That isn’t to say you’re trapped using poor starter gear without throwing your money at the developer. Each PvP match-up has you able to get one of three components as well as some scrap, with the first three missions offering either a machine gun, shotgun, or cannon to strap to your junkyard-on-wheels as a possible reward. You can also do PvE (oddly a limited amount of times in contrast to the unlimited PvP) to get different components you want. These can then be used to build bigger and meaner things to strap to your petrol-guzzling monster.
Out in the desert where the combat happens, the gameplay is generally good. Nothing great, nothing to blow you away. The only thing that made me raise an eyebrow in noticeable interest was the destructible parts on your car, allowing you to break them piece-by-piece rather than just obliterating their total health. The only criticism I have about the system is that this led to often savvy players just breaking my wheels and/or weapons and then chuckling off to go have fun elsewhere as I weep in my worthless car.
What was aggravating was the matchmaking. You are matched depending on your vehicles “power-level”, but I found the range way too high. This was likely so to allow the closed beta to function with the numbers it had. In the end though, it led to often being absolutely decimated as cars with 500+ power higher than me would blow me away as though I was a fly who had found a home inside the barrel of a shotgun.
Overall, Crossout feels like it’ll be the type of curiosity piece you download under the intoxicating fumes of vehicular-combat nostalgia. If it clicks or not seems to depends on if you can enjoy the idea of slowly amassing some bestial vehicle over match after match. Well, that and if you’re not getting your head caved in by those who threw money at the game which the matchmaking system could prevent. Crossout isn’t a burning wreckage in the Nevada wastelands, but it isn’t something that’ll likely bring in the mass’s interpretations of Mad Max: Fury Road. It is the lovely middle-ground where madness lives, along with its tiny car with an artillery cannon strapped to it.
A PC preview code for Crossout was provided by Gaijin Entertainment for the purpose of this preview