Review: Crucible is Amazon’s No Man’s Sky, and Means it Can Only Get Better
Amazon's flagship game, Crucible, was released on May 20, 2020, to mostly mixed reviews. It is an action shooter where players can choose from a cast of ten different characters and play each other in 4v4 matches. The game boasts challenges not only created by the opponents that players are facing but also the planet itself. Players are recommended to learn the game and the ways of the planets they travel to in order to overcome and adapt to anything the game throws their way.
The game is currently in its pre-season and its developers, Relentless Studios, have been listening to player feedback since the game's release. They have removed two of the game's three modes, leaving only the Heart of Hives mode accessible to players. In the Heart of Hives game mode, players are placed in an arena with dangerous Hives, lethal drones set on killing players. Killing these Hives is the name of the game, as each Hive drops a heart when it dies. The team that captures three of these hearts wins first. This game mode is a four versus four match and relies on players to stop both the Hives and each other.
Harvester Command and Alpha Hunters game modes have both been completely removed, as according to Relentless Studios, players responded the best to Heart of Hives and they want to laser-focus on that mode to make it as good as it can possibly be. Relentless claims that the other two modes are only gone for the "foreseeable future," but many players do not know what that translates to.
In their update blog post on Crucible’s website, Colin Johanson, head of the Crucible team, had this to say: "Our plan for this updated game direction will have two phases. In the first, we will build and iterate on the core systems necessary to support this Heart of the Hives-centered vision for the game. We’re starting the first phase by developing the features we know we need: voice chat, a surrender option, a system to deal with AFK players ruining matches, an expanded ping system, and potentially some form of mini-map. We don’t have an exhaustive list of changes yet, but those are some of our top priorities."
Johanson went on to write that phase 2 consisted of polishing the systems and responding to player feedback on the changes that came in phase one. Overall, the Crucible team seems to want to better polish their game in order to support more than one game mode, but want to start by working on Heart of Hives to work out any gameplay bugs or issues and then move on to adding more content and gameplay styles.
Check out the developer update video below.
Despite the very open-door development process for the game, many players are critical of Crucible, stating that it is a misstep of a flagship game for Amazon. Lack of content and very bare-bones presentation are often cited as the reasons that players deem the game "not good."
Many are comparing it to Fortnite and calling it a "failed competitor" to Epic Games' free-to-play endeavour. However, this might be a No Man's Sky situation, where players have been given a game that is rushed out to meet a deadline and then, slowly but surely, the game starts to live up to expectations, even going on to exceed them after countless hours of development and tweaking.
Before Crucible's release, I play-tested the game and was met with a fun, fast-paced shooter with interesting world-building, characters, and enemies. From the small bit of the game I played during the test, I thoroughly enjoyed it and had a lot of fun learning the controls and getting a feel for the characters. The action was exhilarating and overall, I had a fun time.
After playing the game, the No Man's Sky comparison rings true: the core gameplay is extremely fun and I want to see more of it. I understand concerns that players and gamers in general have and I know they are valid-- playing a game with limited content and a small number of things to do can be frustrating. But, I have hope for the future of Crucible. I think that with polish and player feedback, the game can truly shine and make players excited to explore the unknown planets and duke it out against creatures, opponents, and even friends.
This game had the unfortunate status as Amazon's flagship game, which made it so that people were extra-hyped for its release... and extra upset when this hyped-up game didn't exceed or even meet their expectations. I think that the developers are responding to criticism in an extremely good way, by focusing more on what players want to see and fine-tuning their game before truly exploring the wide range of gameplay content the game is capable of. By adding small features like enhanced pings, voice chat, and a mini-map, players can slowly become more immersed in the game, which could lead to more story-driven and character-driven content in-game.
Despite their choice to remove two of the three game modes from Crucible, I think that Relentless Studios are going about the game's changes the right way. The choice to remove the Alpha Hunters and Harvester Command modes must have been a hard one to make, but it seems like the better option. It's better to have one well-polished, immersive, and fun game mode than three broken, bare-bones, and buggy ones.
There might be a lot of eyes on the Crucible project due to the game's attachment to Amazon, but the developers are not letting that deter them from making a good game. In fact, they are using criticism and player feedback to make their game even better. It takes a lot of strength to continue making a game in the midst of controversy and criticism, which really shows that Relentless is passionate about this project and might have been rushed to meet a deadline, such as the end of quarantine.
With that deadline behind them, the developers can start to make Crucible an incredible game. It might not be the Fortnite competitor that Amazon was hyping it up to be, but with a little bit of polish and extensive pre-season updates and changes, Crucible can shine and stand out amongst the countless other PvPs and shooters out there.
Images via Amazon Game Studios