There isn’t really a shortage of free-to-play games available on both PC and Consoles these days, with all kinds of different genres available for gamers to jump straight into without having to spend a buck. Despite already having a highly popular title under their belt with War Thunder, Gaijin Entertainment have decided they want to give gamers more frantic multiplayer showdowns to face off in. They’ve mastered the skies though, so this time they’ve decided to hit the roads with Crossout – a vehicular combat game that sees you putting together your own mean machines and then using them to take down other players on the battlefield.
In a nutshell, Crossout is a frantic multiplayer vehicle combat title in the style of classic games such as Twisted Metal. It comes with a lot more customisation options though, with the player able to unlock new parts to craft their own vehicles. These parts aren’t necessarily safe when you’re in the heat of combat though; Crossout encourages players to shoot parts off their opponent’s vehicles, meaning you can do things such as blast the weapons off their car or even blow away their tires so they’re not able to move. It’s ultra destructive, but a hell of a lot of fun – except when it happens to you…
Thankfully blasting enemy vehicles to pieces is incredibly satisfying. You’ll find yourself in plenty of tense showdowns with opponents that put both your driving and shooting skills to the test. It felt really old-school in a way – we don’t see many vehicular combat titles like Vigilante 8 or Twisted Metal release anymore, so getting to take part in it against so many other human players was a lot of fun. The fact that you see their vehicles slowly fall apart as you battle them is enthralling too, especially when you can identify your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. At one time I found an enemy was dishing out some serious damage with one of their weapons, so I made a point of targeting it. I managed to shoot it off their vehicle, in turn nullifying their strongest threat and making them an easier target to wipe out. It might not sound as exciting to read, but it was so thrilling in-game. Add to that the fact you’re typically facing off against more than one vehicle at a time and it makes for some tense showdowns on the battlefield.
Battles typically play out in the team deathmatch format, with teams of eight facing off against each other to try and accumulate the highest amount of kills for victory. Alternatively, you can try and take over an enemy’s base, but my experience with the game has typically been a non-stop brawl based around who can grab the most kills. It can feel pretty bog standard as far as competitive play is concerned, with nothing really on offer that you wouldn’t have seen before. The fact you’re doing it all in vehicles is pretty refreshing though. Being on four wheels and blasting away at opponents feels a lot different to the typical on-foot action that’s often found in free-to-play releases.
You are able to team up with three other players and tackle missions against the AI though if that’s what you prefer. These missions were a lot of fun, especially when played with friends. The missions themselves are a bit run of the mill though, with players simply tasked with collecting items, destroying structures, and annihilating enemies, though they always made for an entertaining experience. The only real issue I had with them was that they were lacking in variety. After a few hours playing in the PvE mode I found that I was doing the same things in the same locations over and over again. Earning new parts for your vehicle made it more worthwhile, but it was hard to fully invest myself into things when there was such a lack of variety as far as gameplay was concerned. The competitive modes never grew old though, so at least there’s plenty of fun to be had there.
Whilst the bulk of your time in Crossout will be spent battling against enemies, the real meat of the game was found within the vehicle customisation options. There are hundreds upon hundred of different parts for you to build your vehicle with, allowing the player to use their imagination to construct any form of metallic abomination they can think of. It’s not just how they look that you can toy around with though, but how they control too. You could make a nippy vehicle for example that although lacking in firepower is incredibly fast, allowing you to out-pace your opponent in combat. Alternatively, you could put together a hulking tank that despite being slow is incredibly powerful, meaning all you need to do is land that one perfect shot to destroy your foe. Seriously, you can do whatever you please, and with such a robust system in place you’ll never get bored of creating different rides.
One aspect of the game that could be incredibly tricky to deal with at first was the game’s controls. Navigating your vehicle, aiming your weapons, and controlling the camera were awkwardly assigned to the analogue sticks, leaving me in a bit of a mess when I initially got into a game. Over time you’ll find yourself adjusting to the unfamiliar control scheme and things do become easier, but my initial hour or so with the game was full to the brim with cumbersome control mistakes on my part. It’s enough to put players off initially and with an extended focus on competitive online play it’s easy to find yourself getting blasted to pieces each time you try to get to grips with the game.
Given Crossout’s set up a free-to-play MMO-like experience, it’s a little lacking in community options at the moment. Whilst there is some interactivity on offer with factions, an in-game Market, and a showcase of player-created vehicles for you to build yourself, I never felt like I was actually part of a thriving community. In fact, I was only really able to properly communicate with other players during some of the PvE missions if I played with friends. Whilst this might be easy for some gamers to set up (especially with the free-to-play nature of the game), one of the best part of MMOs is typically how accessible it is to join in with others and make new friends. That never felt easy to do in Crossout. It’s early days though with the game in Early Access right now, so I’m hoping it’s something that’ll be expanded on in the full release.
Whilst Crossout doesn’t have a whole lot of open community options available at the moment nor is it incredibly accessible to get into initially thanks to the awkward controls, the thrilling action found on the battlefield more than makes up for it. Heading into these hectic battles against a ton of online players was a lot of fun, whilst the awesome destruction mechanics could make combat feel surprisingly tactical too. Add to that the vehicle customisation options and it’s easy to find yourself losing a ton of hours in the game – it’s really impressive.
It’s far from perfect and it has its flaws, but I’d certainly recommend giving Crossout a try. I’m hoping for more content and extra community options in the future, but it’s still a whole lot of fun to play in its current state. Just prepare yourself for some frustration with the controls to begin with…
Developer: Targem Games
Publisher: Gaijin Entertainment
Release Date: 30/05/2017
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC