Thoughts on Crossout

The other night I was bored and looking for a game that would allow me to mindlessly shoot things while not being something I already had installed on one of my hard drives. Recently discussion surrounding Warframe as being a fun game that is similar to Destiny made me want to jump back into that. Finding out that the new open-world portion of the game is PC only for now (and I previously played the game on PS4) meant that I couldn’t access the new content on the console just yet. There was also a rather large patch for it since I hadn’t played in some time, so I was browsing the store as that downloaded. I stumbled upon the game Crossout, and was intrigued by the description. This felt like a sort of Twisted Metal meets Mad Max sort of game, and having now played it for a few hours, my suspicions were confirmed.

If you enjoy vehicular combat games, this is for you. It’s not going to scratch that Mario Kart itch, no this isn’t about racing and having some power-ups. Crossout has that great Mad Max-like post-apocalyptic feel to its world, but the combat feels more like Twisted Metal, though there are still differences to be seen. This is an arena brawl. You will spend most of your in-game time in combat, though objectives can change. You’ll start out with a rather rudimentary truck that doesn’t have much welded onto it, but through the game’s progression system you’ll unlock new vehicle bases, new factions, other abilities and can really make some crazy looking vehicles.

When you aren’t in combat, you’ll be in a lobby that feels similar enough to most games. A series of menus will allow you to craft new parts, unlock blueprints for vehicles, train your co-driver, and there’s even a marketplace where you can trade items for coin. It seems that much of the game’s items will be unlocked as you play, but there are RMT transactions for more coins that allow you to buy things off of the market or otherwise speed up your progression. This is standard faire, and I’ve fought against some people with much bigger and better vehicles than my own but was still able to out-play them, so it doesn’t feel too pay to win, which is a frequent complaint with F2P games.

Things can get pretty hectic on the battlefield, and you’ll see your fair share of the spectator screen, where you’ll watch your teammates after you die. Thankfully Mr. DoucheSteamboat here wasn’t too bad and our team won that round. Besides the requisite PvP modes it seems that there are some parts of the game that are PvE. The normal missions require you to use particular weapons and win PvP matches, but there are Raids where you have to participate in various modes like escorting and fighting off enemy AI. Nothing too difficult, and I think “raid” is used pretty loosely, as the one I participated in was for 4 players… not very worthy of the word.

Crossout is currently in Open Beta on PS4 and PC, though I’m covering the console version here. It definitely has room to grow, and though they are touting it as an MMO it clearly isn’t. I’d boil it down to being “like World of Tanks, but actually fun.” Here’s my current vehicle that I’ve modified to the point that I can’t do much else with it, for posterity:

I’d recommend the game based on the fun I had with it, though I don’t know how serious you’d ultimately want to get with it. Still, a good way to add some variety to one’s playlist!

A Strong Candidate For GOTY

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According to steam I have just about ten hours put into Fallout 4, and I have a feeling I’ve barely scratched the surface. That’s not counting the fact that there will be eventual DLC that will expand upon the base game, meaning there are many, many more hours to put into this title. For the first time in a long time, a game has grabbed me to the point where I don’t want to play other games. This probably hasn’t happened since I got hooked on Skyrim. Dragon Age: Origins before that. Games where I wanted to see all the possible endings, play through with multiple characters, and find all of the secrets. I had my doubts about Fallout 4 though. I recall word that Bethesda titles tend to release as buggy messes. I read critics calling the game ugly, the same old thing, and dumbed down compared to previous titles in the series. People said the same about Skyrim when comparing it to Oblivion, so it’s likely that there are critics for everything, and people need to make up their own minds when it comes to judgments of games. My initial impressions of the game from trailers and things I had read was that it was a completely new game in a familiar package, and given my history with Bethesda, I felt I would likely enjoy this title.

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My main reservations were my dislike of the shonky FPS combat from the previous two Fallout titles, the lack of purpose for junk items that you interact with in the world (something I hope they find a way to improve upon in the next Elder Scrolls game), and ugly character models. The latter is still probably the weakest point in Fallout 4, while in the above picture my character looks up to current graphical standards, when zoomed in close hair on the head and the face still isn’t that great, but I play the game in first person mode exclusively, so I don’t really care that much. I can happily report that the new FPS system and even V.A.T.S. have been greatly improved. I can actually play the game in real-time, and shooting feels much more fluid, accurate and effective. V.A.T.S. doesn’t fully stop the action now, it actually goes into a super slow mode where the enemies can actually take cover while you’re in mid-shot, causing you to miss or hit something they’ve ducked behind. Because I play FPS games pretty regularly, I feel like my shooter twitch skills actually come into play in this game, rather than an RNG accuracy measurement is controlling the action. V.A.T.S. feels like a tool — not a requirement, and that’s exactly what I asked for. Finally, the junk that you see strewn about the world but would just avoid due to weight considerations in past Bethesda games has a reason to exist. Every piece of junk can be broken down into components and used in crafting at several different stations, along with the base-building mode that is completely new to the series. It took a bit to get used to it, but once I did I rather enjoy the crafting systems in this game, and I never enjoy building or crafting in games. It’s always something that takes time away from what I’d rather be doing, but it feels good to have the option to break up quests or exploring. It makes you look for things that you would normally ignore, just so you can build something new in your base.

There are a wide variety of things to do right from the start, and apparently I’ve only completed one story mission, despite finishing a slew of side quests and miscellaneous tasks. Base building took up some time, and crafting weapons, armor, food, chemicals and even upgrading my power suit have all had their uses and didn’t overwhelm me with a sense of too much to do. Conversely I wish I had more time to devote to the game, rather than feeling the game is demanding too much time of me. Strange, that sentence. I remember feeling this way about MMOs years ago, but somehow that pendulum has swung the other direction with that genre, despite sharing many similarities with a game such as this one. Perhaps it’s having an “end state” that keeps these mechanics from overstaying their welcome. What I really think is that being an FPS with RPG elements is different enough from the standard third person action MMO that I’m loving it. Maybe I never wanted an MMO to begin with, I just wanted a world as immersive as this one that I could play along with friends? Speaking of, Bethesda, why can I have a range of sidekicks, but your games aren’t co-op? Don’t say anything about ESO, you. That’s not what I want at all.

Companions feel improved from previous Bethesda games. Not only do they follow you tirelessly and help out in combat situations, along with being a great mule, but they actually sneak around with you and don’t aggro everything in a ten mile radius. I got to the point where I stopped using companions at all in Skyrim because they were more annoying than they were worth. In the case of Fallout 4, they feel more intelligent and useful. But, I did use companions in Skyrim for more than ten hours before getting rid of them, so my opinion here might change.

Catering to my explorer side, Fallout 4 doesn’t fail to impress. I’ve covered maybe 15% of the map and feel that I’m just scratching the surface. There is so much to see, and there is that feeling of seeing something cool and needing to check it out. There are collectibles that actually provide stats, much like earlier iterations of this series and TES. Comics, other books and Bobbleheads are hidden in not-so-obvious places and that makes you want to hunt them down in each nook and cranny you can find. Having a collectible actually mean something in-game is so much better than just having it to earn an achievement for your gamer card. I get the whole “gamer cred” concept, but I like having an in-game effect as well, so it scratches the itch for both explorers and achievers. Games like Call of Duty, Uncharted and pretty much every other console game/port take note… collectibles are lame if they only provide achievement/trophies.

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Fallout 4 felt really easy for the first hour or so. After that it was apparent that this particular wasteland can be rather dangerous. Radiation is something a bit more difficult to deal with this time around, taking from your total health until you use some RadAway, which isn’t all that plentiful to begin with. Basic enemies can be rather difficult too, because they tend to spawn/wander in groups. Big baddies like the one above would be instant death without the help of your powersuit; something I never had in previous Fallout games (though admittedly I never beat any of them). I also don’t understand why people are saying this game is so ugly. I don’t have a state of the art graphics card (GTX 770) but the rest of my system is pretty damn good, and I’m running the game @ 1920/1080/60hz on high settings and it looks gorgeous. I mean yeah, I’ve seen slightly better but it feels on par with what’s coming out these days. It’s definitely better than previous iterations. Besides, as I’ve said many a time: Graphics aren’t everything. Overall, Fallout 4 has addressed all the qualms I had with the series, put it in a better looking package that runs smoothly and has added features I didn’t know I wanted. I’m in love with this game, and feel it’s a strong contender for game of the year. It’s in my top 3 at least.