When you have a company with as much global appeal, resources, connections, and money as Amazon. It seems like a no-brainer to get involved in the gaming industry. With an estimated market value of $160 billion, there is a world of potential there to be harnessed. So that is exactly what Amazon has tried to do with their debut title, Crucible.
I use the word try, simply because this game, although by no means terrible, does nothing to get itself apart from the competition. Amazon as a company grew to the successful platform is today through innovation and creativity. So this is why it seems so alien of a concept for them to simply strip assets from popular games on the market in an attempt to get in on the action.
This game consists of a very loose story where you play as ten unique mercenaries. Each dispatched to a hostile planet to strip it of its materials for monetary gain. Aside from that small backstory, there is little else to really sink your teeth into. Plus, it’s hardly revolutionary, the premise is very reminiscent of the original Ratchet and Clank, Borderlands or a game that came out very recently that has the exact same premise, Holfraine.
Though this would be forgiven due to the free-to-play nature of the game. Plus the nature of these games usually needs little more than a judge in the right direction in terms of story and motivation. Look at Overwatch, a game that initially offered a basic concept that was interesting enough to motivate the player to try the gameplay. I would hardly say that Crucible manages this but we move to the gameplay regardless.
Crucible tries to borrow the MOBA style of gameplay from League of Legends or DOTA 2. Whilst offering a varied roster of characters akin to that of Overwatch. Though in trying to merge these two together to form a hybrid, the game instead comes off as an unoriginal mesh of ideas without its own personality or purpose.
As is so often used in free-to-play games these days to provide developers with an additional source of income, the game tries to encourage players to microtransactions to stock up on goodies such as medkits, essence, or other cosmetics. For that, you can use credits that you have acquired during the game or you can use real money. Admittedly, this is hardly something that is a rarity in gaming these days, though it does seem very much like a cash grab, especially from a game that does nothing to warrant any emotional connection to the characters or a world.
Not to mention that this title has been reported to run at a very inconsistent frame rate. Offering players choppy gameplay. Maps are far too big for an eight-player lobby. Combat is sluggish and labored. Plus, there is a clear lack of roles available for players to play as. Meaning that this game will become stale pretty quickly.
One saving grace for this title, however, is the interesting game modes that have been included. King of the hill is one that is slightly more forgettable. Though, the heart of the hives and alpha hunters modes offer unique variants of PvE and PVP modes that at least offer some unique qualities to this title.
Then to the game’s credit, the character designs, although lacking in backstory or any sort of depth, do at least have great designs. The Wall-E-style robot drone has to be one of the best on the roster. It’s a fantastically cute character that stands out as a strong point. Though that does beg the question. If one of the highlights for your entire game is a single character model, can the game be called a success in any form? Pokemon had the iconic Pikachu to carry the series on his back but at least it had an excellent concept and intuitive game design to back them up.
Overall, this game when taking into account the mass of resources that Amazon has at its disposal has to be seen as a disappointment. This game doesn’t come close to breaking into even the free-to-play market, with gamers more interested in playing more refined and polished titles such as Fortnite or Apex for example. This game is more or less a carbon copy of the underwhelming game Holfraine. Though considering the fact that was a small developer and not with the backing of a global conglomerate, perhaps Amazon should hang its head in shame. We can only hope for better going forward from them.