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‘Crackdown 3’ Multiplayer Impressions: Delivering the Bare Minimum

Bringing multiplayer to Crackdown 3 is a concept one bursting with potential. The unique movement options found in the campaign lend themselves well to mixing up the typical multiplayer gameplay found in shooters, and the collection of orbs throughout stages could have given Crackdown 3 an identity all its own. Unfortunately, what we get with “Wrecking Zone” is an incredibly bare-bones experience, especially in an era of some of the most feature-packed online modes in video game history.

The Basics

At the time of writing, “Wrecking Zone” only consists of two modes: Agent Hunter and Territories. Agent Hunter is indicative of the popular Call of Duty mode Kill Confirmed, where teams need to kill opposing team members and collect the “Agent badges” they drop in order to rack up points. Territories, meanwhile, is Crackdown‘s take on Domination, having players fight to control two sections of the map for as long as possible. Each territory has fifty points, which whittle down the longer a team is in control of it; once those points are all taken, every building in that territory explodes, and a new area to capture is designated.

Crackdown 3‘s core gameplay does lend itself well to these modes, as the lock-on targeting from the campaign makes a return, allowing players to quickly target opponents and track them across the map. However, in a bizarre twist, only nine weapons from the main game make it over to the multiplayer. Traditional orbs are also done away with, in favor of larger orange orbs littered around each map that players can use to charge up one of two ability enhancement meters (Shooting/Agility or Strength/Explosion). While the differences those ability enhancements provide are slightly noticeable, they never feel like a major advantage in the heat of a battle.

Though there are only three maps available at launch, each one manages to push the campaign’s aesthetics even further with futuristic, neon arenas that each feel distinct and worth exploring. That said, all three maps are far too large for 5v5 matches (the only option available at launch). In theory, this shouldn’t be an issue; both game modes encourage players to convene at certain spots on the map (Agent Hunter to wherever skirmishes are taking place, and Territories to the two designated spaces on the map). In practice, however, the large scope of the maps often results in long stretches of downtime in Agent Hunter, and visibility issues when trying to spot areas in Territories.

crackdown 3

What Makes it Special?

The main selling point of Crackdown 3‘s multiplayer — and one of the main reasons development has taken so long — is the Microsoft Azure-powered building destruction. Nearly every structure across the three maps can be shot through, or just outright obliterated. It’s certainly striking for the first couple of hours, especially since this isn’t seen in the main campaign. Being able to shoot your way into a structure instead of running around to an opening is handy, and targeting enemies across the map through buildings is quite fun. It feels great to see an enemy icon above you, then have them come crashing down after shooting out the ceiling. Ultimately, however, this fun wrinkle isn’t enough to keep the multiplayer from feeling largely vanilla.

By far the most frustrating part of “Wrecking Zone” is that there’s no progression system to speak of. Players earn points based on their performance every match, but those points don’t go towards anything. No levels, unlockables, ranking system, in-game currency — nothing. In an age where nearly every online shooter has something to keep you coming back, from Call of Duty to the newly-released Apex Legends, this is simply mind-boggling.

As it stands, “Wrecking Zone” feels much more like a bonus for those who played the campaign, rather than a selling point for buying into the Crackdown 3 package.

You can find my review of Crackdown 3’s campaign here.

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