At E3 2019 when Phil Spencer announced CrossfireX on stage I’m sure many of you had a “what is this?” moment. I personally didn’t know how insanely huge this game was in Asia, I totally understood why Phil was so proud to announce it when I did some research on it. Not many games can say that they have a billion players, so make no mistake CrossfireX is a massively important game for Microsoft. Priority one making the game more popular in the West and hoping this will help with getting a bigger foot in Asia. After spending a decent amount of time with the beta from Crossfire I have high hopes that Microsoft did a great job getting this game exclusive for a year on Xbox, a similar deal as to how they did with PUBG. Before we continue with my impressions from the beta, this free-to-play game will be available on Xbox One later this year, Smilegate Entertainment and additional Xbox dev support are making the online modes and Remedy (yes, Alan Wake Remedy) are making the single-player campaign.
Important to know is that the beta is only a fraction of what the game has in store for us, the talented devs from Remedy are making the single-player campaign, not immediately known for making first-person shooters so I’m very curious to see how they will handle that. I have full trust that Remedy delivers something great, Quantum Break or Control are sublime games after all. According to Remedy they are taking a big character-building approach, I would definitely expect to see more on this at the Xbox July Xbox Series X show. CrossFireX will also feature a Battle Royale mode but we barely have details on that. Every multiplayer game seems to be with a BR-mode nowadays, after playing the beta I feel that the real strength lies in the old-school gameplay but we’ll see the take on this popular mode from developer Smilegate Entertainment soon.
So many faces…
CrossfireX is a game with many faces, it aims to be something for everyone and that might be its biggest problem. It has to be said that this game is a massive undertaking, most games try to focus on one playstyle this game does literally everything, it gives players a Battle Royale, it gives players split-second old-school shooting as we know in Counter Strike, it gives players a modern take on FPS and it gives a completely original tactical mode and Remedy’s single player. Who knows, they might pull this off and the beta definitely shows a lot of promise.
This a Counter Strike sequel?
It is impossible not to think about Counter Strike when you play the Classic mode, also my favorite mode. Here you jump back in time when online shooters aimed to be simple. No respawns, without confusing rules, no sprinting, and purely aimed for the hardcore and skilled players. Here you need strategy and a little bit of aiming luck to be really good, no auto-aiming or even aiming down sight (except sniper). Everyone fires from the hip and this changes the action and split-decision making, while I like my share of modern shooters it was really refreshing to play a great looking old-school shooter. The main difference with Counter Strike is the total lack of any economy, there is no need to start with only a pistol and buy weapons. You can freely change your loadout at each round, it loses some of the typical CS risk charms, as buying an expensive gun and dying meant you had to rebuy it again but I do like Crossfire’s approach too as you can change your loadout on the opposite teams playing style. One of the main reasons why I like this gaming mode is actually the same as to why I like Gears of War on Xbox or Socom on Playstation so much, each player has only one life per round and your own skill can single-handedly make the difference. It just feels much more powerful to take out multiple players in the same round. The actual shooting feels alright but I did have to make some adjustments, recoil from weapons is as expected, and taking out players with headshots at long range without using any sort of ADS feels spectacular. I can write a lot of just like Counter Strike’s here, selecting a knife makes you run faster, the map feels like it was stolen from it, you have an attacking and defending team, … it looks a lot better than the latest Counter Strike game and I truly believe that they have enough things that make them stand out.
Casual players have a place in CrossfireX!
Classic was my favorite but I think the main attraction point for this game will come from the Modern modes. You’ll be playing an entirely different shooter here as this comes with team respawning and more importantly aiming down the sight and sprinting is an option too. It is crazy to see what a difference something as ADS can make in an online shooter. While in the classic mode players are careful and are checking every corner, here players will run and jump around like chickens looking for a fast kill (or death) Another huge difference is the option to improve yourself, this is done fairly quickly by choosing if you want to add points to Defense, Offense, Recovery, or Speed. They call this mechanic Tactical Growth and while it slightly improves your character it can make all the difference. It has some issues, obviously meant for casuals it is awfully weird that they decided to go with a spawn system that requires players to protect the line of sight of the area. If players don’t know what they are doing spawn killing is a given. You need to keep your area protected from all sides or else you’ll be killed in seconds after spawning. It has this sweet mid-map change feature too where you have to zip-line to another section from the map. I don’t know how many different maps have this kind of things but it really helps to make it a little bit more charming.
Someone call Ghostbusters! It has Ghosts!
As if an old-school and modern take on shooters wasn’t enough they also implemented an entirely unique game mode called Spectre, not to be confused with the Bond movie from 2015. In Spectre the attacking team needs to plant a bomb or kill the defending team, the big twist? The attacking team is transparent when they stand still and can only do melee-attacks and become more visible when they move a lot. Defenders have two main options to find the stealth opposition, wait until they move so they can see them or try to listen to their breathing or footsteps. This sneaking and finding cat & mouse mode is surprisingly balanced and fun to play between the classic and modern modes. It has a few annoying parts, dying as an attacker because the defending team start spraying and praying for example but overall I’m glad that they didn’t shy away from doing something “silly”
All those modes, one progression.
I’m glad that they decided that every single thing you do in any online mode helps your progression with your character. Your overall level increases with whatever you play and leveling up is important as you can slightly improve a few stats from your soldier. Also neat to notice is that the profile tab has the option to preset your loadouts for every map or game mode, it takes some time to set this all up but I prefer to do it this way than having to manually change everything every single time while playing CrossfireX.
So my overall opinion …
CrossfireX has a lot of potential and I completely understand why Microsoft is pushing CrossfireX so much. This really has a big chance to become something huge and gives them a lot of goodwill in Asia. It looks much better than expected, the visuals aren’t what you would expect from a free-to-play game and if I’m honest the content is pretty much insane too. In a world where Battle Royale shooters are dominating everything, it is really nice to play something old-school again, a game project that receives a lot of love from the developer. I can’t wait for the full release, to see what Remedy has in store for us with the single player (not sure if this is free too) and to see what else is available in the online modes. I’m willing to bet that CrossfireX is going to be something that many gamers are going to play, simply because it has something for everyone.