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Crucible virtual preview event report


During the time of the Coronavirus, a lot of businesses are having to adapt and adjust their business models and practices. Gaming is no exception, and Amazon hosted a virtual preview event for journalists to check out their upcoming Free to Play Hero Shooter, Crucible. Crucible is being developed by Relentless Studios and published by Amazon. This is the first big, mainstream game for Amazon, so there is a lot riding on the initial reception to Crucible.

We got to spend about two hours going hands-on with the three initial game modes that Crucible offers. We played Heart of the Hives first, where two teams of four players face off against one another, while also trying to take down giant boss Hives that spawn in the world. The combination of PvP and PvE makes team composition important, and the first team to defeat three hives and capture the heart within wins. In-depth strategy, team composition, communication, and a level of skill are all important in Heart of the Hives. If I had to pick one mode that feels like *THE* mode that Crucible was designed for, it would be Heart of the Hives.

The next mode we played was Harvester Command. Two teams of eight players battle to capture and hold Harvesters spread across the map. There are five Harvesters, and the team controlling more Harvesters earns more points every couple seconds. The first team to 100 points wins. This is a much more casual game mode and the perfect place for players to learn the different heroes and try out their skills and mechanics without too much of a burden on them to help carry a team.

The last mode was Alpha Hunters. This is where eight different teams of two take the field and fight until the last team is left standing. This is a very Battle Royale style mode, and once you die you stay dead. If your partner dies, you can choose to form an alliance with a surviving team of two and make a team of three, which grants you an advantage over the other teams, but means when your team is the last one standing, your two circumstantial teammates are going to be going after you. This is without a doubt the hardest mode and the one geared toward higher level players, confident in their hero mastery and skill.

All of these modes were a ton of fun and felt genuinely fresh despite all of the similarities to existing games. Crucible feels like it has just the right mix of Overwatch and MOBA games like League and Smite. The Free to Play model puts it in a very good position at launch as well, with no barrier to entry I think a lot of people will be checking this out next week. Since it is Free to Play, there are microtransactions, but Relentless was very transparent during the event and granted us full access to the in-game store, as well as the currency shop and the seasonal Battle Pass. The Battle Pass has 80 tiers and costs 950 credits, or $9.50 USD. Each player will start with 1000 credits, so they will be able to purchase the season one pass right away without spending any money.

Similar to a lot of other games doing the seasonal pass system, if you play enough during the season and save the credits you earn, you can earn more than enough to purchase the next season without spending any money. The rest of the in-game store is for skins, emotes, and other cosmetic items. There are no performance-enhancing microtransactions as of now, and no plans to include any later on down the line. The seasons themselves are slated to run between eight and ten weeks, and each season will have some kind of large, game impacting theme. The intention is to change the meta every season. Relentless has the first several seasons planned out but plans to listen to community feedback and start basing the seasonal adjustments on what players want and need as the game evolves.

In addition to large changes to the meta every season, players can expect balance changes and patches every two weeks. The intention is to always move forward and make the game better, with constant support and changes to make the game last a really long time. The developers feel that constant balancing is key to that, and I agree.

I had the opportunity to speak with Narrative Designers during the event as well, and there is going to be an underlying story to Crucible. There isn’t a single-player campaign, but through leveling individual characters up you will unlock monologues, which are first-person stories told by the characters themselves, so the more you play a character, the more you will learn about them and their backstory. There are also inter-character conversations that will take place organically while playing. When two characters are standing in close proximity to one another and out of combat, they may strike up a casual conversation that can give you further insight into the lore of Crucible.

We also got some insight into just how the development team went about creating and tweaking Crucible as the gaming landscape drastically changed over the last five years. In 2016, it was reported that Amazon was going to include Twitch integration allowing one player to stream a game of Crucible as a game-master, overseeing the players in their world and streaming it all as one big event. I asked the team about this and they said that it is not going to be a part of the game at launch, but they are not opposed to maybe looking at it later on down the line.

During the development, Relentless actually brought various streamers, content creators, influencers, and playtesters in for “unprecedented access” to the development team and process. During these multi-day summits, players could sit right alongside developers and engage with them and give them balance suggestions in real-time, then immediately try out those changes to tweak the game and make it as fair and enjoyable as possible. One of the big takeaways from these sessions was that Relentless should focus first and foremost on making a great game, without all of the Twitch integration and streamer features, then if the game takes off and engages with audiences, look into adding those things later. Make it fun to play first, and engaging to watch on stream second.

The focus with Crucible is on the PC release, with no plans for a console release right now. If there is substantial demand for a console release, Relentless is open to looking at it later, but right now there is no plan in place for a console port. Overall this event went really well, the game was a load of fun to try out, each of the heroes feels unique in how they play and can be used, every hero I tried was really fun and interesting, and it seems that there will be a lot of support from the developers throughout the lifecycle of the game. The main theme and core ideal that Relentless said they adhered to throughout the development process was “What is going to be best for the player.” Their team wants to focus on understanding and bonding with the players in a way that most other studios do not, and hope that will contribute to a successful launch and a successful overall game. Crucible is out on Steam on May 20th and is free to download and play.