Crossout - PS4 Review

Crossout is an interesting take on the online shooting genre, providing an easy model of entry via free to play. However, while it is easy to get into the game, a handful of issues hold Crossout back from being must-play. It is a fun enough game, but there is a heavy grind involved unless you want to to drop some decent money into it.

First and foremost, I was surprised to see that Crossout has a story of sorts with a narrative about a viral epidemic that swept the world and caused a great deal of trouble for the human population. That is what leads us to our Mad Max-like post apocalyptic setting. To that end, the aesthetic is pretty cool, though the visuals are not best-in-class, the muted brown landscapes and junk-heap looking vehicles do a nice job of selling the setting.

Because this is a free to play title, getting into Crossout is the key, and to that end the game does a nice job of holding your hand through some basic missions and coaching you on the basics of upgrading your vehicle. In fact, it is fair to say that there are two very distinct halves to Crossout - what you do on the field of battle and how you prepare in the garage. There is a lot more to the customization here than what you see in most shooting games. You're not just picking a weapon, a couple of attachments and perhaps adding a camouflage skin to your rifle. I would argue that the most addictive aspect of Crossout is the substantial customization options at your disposal.

You start with your vehicle of choice, and as you would expect - the base design is important. Some rides turn on a dime, some accelerate quickly, others have more durable bodies and more. But this is just the bones of your creation. Where Crossout gets really interesting is in adding a variety of different weapons to your vehicle. There tend to be a few basic types of functionality - melee weapons, straight firing weapons, seeking/explosive weapons and a handful of upgrades (such as becoming stealthed). With all of these different options at your disposal, there are nearly limitless possibilities you will see on the field of battle, and there is no single ultimate configuration that I have encountered yet, which is great to see. Early on things are somewhat uniform as you battle bots and lower leveled opponents, but the further you get into the game and the more gear you unlock, the more variety you are presented with every match.

This attention to detail plays out nicely during the actual combat as well. Many of these individual elements are destructible, which means if you blow out someone's back wheels, they have to drag the ass end of their mechanical contraptions through the sand at dramatically reduced speed. Take out a specific turret and they lose firepower. Knock out a front wheel and their turn radius becomes almost non-existent. It is a cool way to deal with these metallic beasts, because you aren't performing one hit headshots like you might in a traditional shooter. There is a wearing down process due to a hail of fire and this adds some strategy to the proceedings.

The actual action is pretty unique in that it is a third person shooter, but because of the way the vehicles work, you don't move the way you do in a traditional shooter. You move forward and back with great speed, but actual side-to-side strafing is pretty much non-existent. You learn to adjust your shooting appropriately, pinging away at range until you get close enough to really hone in on what spot you want to focus your firepower. Of course, if you sit still, you have more accuracy since you do not have to take your own momentum into account, but at the same time you become a sitting duck for the enemy also. Different modes and maps such as capture the point, elimination and more make up how you'll spend most of this time.

Rounds are briskly paced, which is a good thing since once you are eliminated, you are done and over with until the match ends. The good news is because your vehicle is more durable, you seldom feel like you were completely cheesed by a single lucky shot that forces you to the sidelines. Of course, if you do happen to get knocked out really early, you get stuck sitting around for a bit, which is not always the most fun.

The two biggest issues I came away with were concerns about balance and grinding - and both of them come to the same crux, which is the studio wants you to drop some money on their game. At its core, I have no trouble with this - they have to make their money back somehow, and generally speaking Crossout is more fun to play than not, so that seems reasonable. However, when you are in a battle against someone who has a highly powered vehicle, the game can be incredibly unbalanced. In some of my early runs before the game fully launched, there were not a ton of players online as I was playing. That was fine, as the bots seem to fill in well enough, but one car absolutely wrecked my team over and over again until I dropped out of the current matchup and... found him again about fifteen minutes later where he was doing the same. Of course, some of it is probably skill, but he was geared for melee damage and could ram me into submission in a matter of seconds. He would seek me and one other player out at the start of each map, maul us both, and then just pick off the subpar AI and win the match. This happened several times both instances. A few nights later, I had a similar experience where a single car was dominating a field of relatively green players. As you get up in levels, and more people start to play, I suspect this will become less of an issue, but it sure stood out in the early going and left a questionable taste in my mouth afterwards, because it sure felt a lot like pay to win.

The grind plays into this, because it is slow, slow, slooooow to build up the scrap, copper and random assortment of parts you need to actually assemble things. These parts drop very slowly at the end of matches, and experience goes up quickly enough in the beginning to get you hooked, but crawls to a near-halt several levels in. There is a lot to do with the building of items and factions, but this is a very slow drip and makes the upgrade system - arguably the best part of the game - something that you don't get to play with very regularly, especially if you are attempting to build rare gear.

Crossout is a pretty solid game, but one that is angled to hit you pretty hard on the microtransactions unless you spend a ton of time with it. The good news is, the gameplay is fun and the premise is pretty creative, which is of course a good reason to spend lots of time playing. However, if you're just looking for something to casually drop some time into now and again, you will likely find progression to be rather slow and potentially unrewarding.

Game Information

PlayStation 4
Targem Games
Gaijin Entertainment
Other Platform(s):
Xbox One

Free to Play

Article by Nick