What is Crossout? Only one of the better Car-Combat simulators out there. In the vein of Twisted Metal, yet, set in the wastelands of the Near-East’s of Asia Major, Crossout lets you build armored cars, trucks, tanks, planes and trains, and so much more.
It calls itself a Massively Multiplayer Online Action Game though, personally, I would not call the playership “massive,” as it seems to struggle with keeping enough players on at all times. There is a wave of players that does roll through the servers for a couple hours here and there but, for the most part, bots are required to fill-in for missing players. In Crossout, in a nutshell, players challenge their creativity by trying to build the most efficient death machine around, from an ever-growing assortment of parts. That is a very superficial overview of the game and, later, we’ll get into the finer aspects of it. Crossout has a couple different Player versus Player (PvP) modes where you can, either, be a solo player that joins in a group of randomly selected players, or group up in a team of up to 4 players. Each PvP battle consists of 8 players on each side but, due to low playership at certain times, the game does require bots to fill in for any missing players. A second PvP mode exists, called Clan Wars, for players that are in a Clan where they group up in a mandatory 4 player group to face off against another Clan of 4 players. Joining a Clan offers a player really only one thing that the rest of the playership does not have access to, and that is the chance to win Uranium from Clan Wars. Everyone else has to buy Uranium from the Market and it ain’t cheap by any stretch. Uranium is used to craft “the most powerful” items in the game known as Relics but, for the most part with exception to very few items, Relics don’t end up being “game changers” of any sort.
Crossout, also, features several different Player versus Environment (PvE) modes.
- In Adventure Mode, we get to romp around in a somewhat vast wasteland and, also, experience some of the lore of Crossout. No spoilers here, sorry but not sorry, LoL! We can go solo or group up to complete the tasks required. I find the story we’re exposed to is a little lacking in explanation and kind if leaves me wondering about more, which is good but, if you ask me, the games delivery system for story and lore needs work.
- Raids are the mode where players get a little more lore thrown at them while in the middle of fighting hordes of bots. There’s several different Raids from escorting cargo trucks to stealing something and having to run it to another location, to finding a stronghold and defending it.
- Brawls tend to be an all-out everyone versus everyone and, thankfully, this mode is rotated throughout the year. We get several different Brawls, so many in fact that I just can’t effectively list them and cover them all in this review. Some are a hit, some are a miss, most are fun as heck!
- Custom Battles is the mode where you can have private group battles but there are no rewards from these engagements. Here, we can explorer all the battlegrounds and modes the game has to offer. I find it useful in practicing and learning how my vehicles react to the many different types of battlefield terrain.
When starting the game, we have an undeclared choice: start the Free to Play version (which I consider to be the Demo Version) or buy a vehicle (Car Pack). In both versions, players find themselves starting in their Garage, which is where players will spend 75% of their time playing this game. The idea is that we are using radio-controlled vehicles to scour the wasteland for resources as we sit in our garages. Resources are things like Scrap Metal, Wires and Batteries (among a couple other items) to help in building our death machines.
We are given a starter vehicle (or the vehicle we purchased) and instructed to go into Adventure Mode where we will spend the 1st part of the game leveling up our character in PvE, and learning about designing Blueprints (building a vehicle). At this starting point, the game seems very slow, specially when you try to PvP, and I think that has to do with the low playership I mentioned before. Plus, there’s not much incentive for veteran players to return to Adventure Mode, there-by narrowing the chance for new players to meet up with veterans to learn the ropes. That’s not to say you won’t ever find a long-time player in the lower tiers of the game, it just might be hunt to find one.
This brings me to what is known as the Power Score. All the parts on your vehicle have a point system tied to them and, as you level up, you get to put more and more parts on your vehicle, increasing its Power Score. This matters because most of the playership sits above the 7000-point threshold in Power Score, and in the Free to Play version, we start out with around 1000 points in Power Score. So, as you can see from this, there is a considerable gap that needs to be cleared before any Free to Play account can join the rest of the playership. To give you a better idea of the gaps that need to be cleared in playing this game, so far, I’ve seen Power Scores upwards of 20,000.
When it comes to battling, players are sorted into a match based on their Power Score and, barring any bugs in the match making system, we are generally matched up to people who have around the same Power Score. But, as I mentioned, there are bugs. The bots (artificially controlled gaming elements) can be kind of buggy if I’m to be honest about things. A bot is just as likely to help you win a match as it is likely to throw a match with faulty mechanics, ramming into you over and over, not even firing its weapons at anyone. On occasion, a player with an enormous Power Score will be tossed into a low Power Score match and that, in turn, might trigger a HUGE bot to rezz on the enemy team in order to “even things out.” The thing is that the bots have insane accuracy and can hit you from across the map, so, there’s that for what it’s worth. Now, what I’m about to mention next is not to say that these bugs show up all the time, no, in fact I would say the following bugs only show up around 5% of the time. We can get stuck in the loading queue for minutes on end and, after loading into a match, we can get stuck on the starting countdown where we are, then, booted back to the garage only to get a whisper from some angry player (we call them salty players in Crossout) about how they just reported us for cheating the queue. A similar experience can be had with Clan Wars where, after being booted to the garage, we are subsequently banned from Clan Wars for “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” which, on the wrong day, can cause a serious rage-quit.
In the beginning of the game, we learn about Crafting our weapons and wheels and, for the beginning of the game, Crafting works very well! However, Crafting new parts later in the game is where most of the playership is divided on because, at this stage in 2023, crafting many of the worthwhile items seems to cost more than the item is generally worth (compared to the real world time investment). Couple this with the fact that, not only do we Craft the item, we need to Craft multiples of that items in order to upgrade it. Furthermore, when upgrading the item, we are provided with a random set of bonus’s that, if we are not happy with, we must re-upgrade by Crafting more of the item. Most people just choose to buy the items outright off the market when the price is low enough, bypassing and stunting the Crafting System.
Now for my Smely Opinion:
I love Crafting (as in designing) to challenge my creativity, and Crossout absolutely provides an outlet to do that. I love riding around in a death machine, and that goes hand-in-hand with my occasional love for destroying things. And, when we first explorer Crossout, the 3 words we are presented with are “Craft, Ride, Destroy”, so, Crossout 100% delivers on what it outwardly promises. But the lack of finality to anything when it comes to game mechanics just leaves a slightly smelly odor in my Garage. Parts will have their Power Score changed, or their hitbox changed which demoralizingly breaks the build we’ve worked hard to create. The available Car Packs to purchase are mainly cosmetic and most of us just end up selling everything they come with, in order to buy what we really want. Due to the crafting instabilities, the Market suffers from pricing spikes that can range from reasonable to out-of-control, specially with the Relic items. I think it’s outrageous that we could end up spending around $400.00 USD just to get 1 Relic item.
Something I think Crossout is missing, and completely unrelated to any of the above, Crossout lacks a main antagonist toward which players must rally against, creating a lack of where to focus their toxicity. Yes, there are warring Factions that rotate throughout the year to keep the game fresh but, as players tend to take on personas associated with those Factions, instead of aiming their aggression and toxicity at a main NPC antagonist, the toxicity is aimed between players. I, personally, think that is one of the main reasons for low-playership.
The low-playership, as numerously mentioned, is one of the things this game really, REALLY struggles with and, what I gather from the existing community tells me, mostly, that it has to do with an undefined course for where the devs want to take the game. There’s constant additions of new weapons and expansion of Factions and their Lore but, it seems, players want there be refinement to what currently exists rather than constant expansion. Tie all the loose things together to make a more immersive world. For instance, tie the Garage Test Yard gates to the Adventure Mode gates so we can arrive in front of one and load into the wasteland. Going further on that idea, tie the Adventure Mode gates to the PvP queues so we can romp around while waiting to battle. Another way to tie the Garage to things would be having virtual books on the bookshelf that’s already neatly placed in the Garage, and those books would have titles with a way for us to tell what to read 1st and what to read last. As it is, its backstory reads like a list of unconnected conspiracy theories that, and I’m sorry to say, were better done by Ancient Aliens. Most players don’t know where to look for lore and, when finding that lore, they don’t know what order to digest it in (because we just get little snippets from hovering over items). What’s worse? We have to discover the rest of the lore, not through game play but through digging around in different menus, as well as, hopping on the internet, looking up the games website, digging through its forums, news, developer’s blog, and media posts. For a game that bills itself as an Action Game, there sure is a lot of unguided detective work that goes into just learning about the game.
Having said all that: How do I feel about Crossout? Craft. Ride. Destroy. Of these 3 things the game promises it delivers in spades. The developers try to listen to the community but, unless you have a plausible solution to the problem you present, chances are the ideas aren’t going to be implemented. The community can be fun and helpful at times, other times it can devolve into a circus that, if you’re not ready for lunacy at the highest levels (that even the Mods like to take part in), can be a turn off to some. Not to me, though, because my creativity allows me to travel to areas most just can’t go, and I have blast nearly 95% of the time I’m playing Crossout. That other 5% not enjoyed is due to game bugs. Being an author, myself, the lack of story structure gets to me on a passionate level. So much so that I took it upon myself to create some structure by creating a Crossout cartoon called The Ravaging.
In my Crossout Universe, this is the story: players are locked in an unending cycle of brainwashing and rediscovery as they fight to survive an Earth that has been overrun by alien technology, the Ravagers. Ravagers brainwash people, stealing their thoughts and skills to upload into their own robots. They use certain people and animals on a Catch-and-Release basis to influence and lure unsuspecting survivors into their clutches to create more bots. It’s up to those who have rediscovered themselves to not get re-brainwashed and help other survivors rediscover themselves. The most dangerous survivors are captured, not released, and fully assimilated into bots. That’s it.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it! I like Crossout a lot, but I COULD love it even more if it was just a little more refined, and that’s my Smely Opinion.