Crossout is, in many ways, a poorly made version of my dream game. I’ve always wanted a solid car combat game in the vein of something like Twisted Metal, but one with the ability to create my own instrument of destruction, and Crossout certainly scratches that itch.
What Targem Games has crafted here is all about creating a vehicle that can unleash some hell on the open road. You are given a variety of parts and pieces with very little limitations to your designs and are rewarded fairly often for your efforts. Each time you level up you will earn new components to add to your creation, and eventually, new factions are unlocked that will allow you change up the style and look of said creation. Where Crossout fails, however; is the lack of inspired modes and activities that you’ll need to grind out to earn all those flashy new parts.
Make no mistake about it, Crossout is a really fun time, but most of that fun comes from creating a new combat vehicle and seeing it tear through other players like a hot knife through butter. Sure, you may construct something that will get trashed within seconds, or maybe ambushed at the wrong time, but eventually, you’ll earn higher level parts and start to change up the way you design your vehicles; it’s very live and learn.
The game is built upon either player vs enemy (PVE) or player vs player (PVP) and frankly, while the PVP stuff is fairly entertaining, it doesn’t hold a candle to the creativity of its PVE’s offerings. PVP sees you capturing bases or holding a zone, but most players usually ignore the objectives and treat the game like common team deathmatch. PVE, however; has protecting patrols, collecting cargo while under fire, or defending oil tanks from enemy assaults. You also have the Leviathans, large mechanical beasts that you create at level 17 and send them out into the world to take on other players.
Most of the content in the game is locked behind your character level and your Power Score level. You earn experience for each match and activity and this allows you to level up. Once you hit level 10, you’ll unlock a few factions and level those up too. Your Power Score is the score given to your vehicle based on the quality of parts you add to your creation. Better the parts, higher the score; this basically means how effective your creation is in combat and defense.
At the start of the game, you will earn a vehicle and a few basic parts. As you level up and win matches, both PVP, and PVE, you’ll earn better parts. It can take a while to earn enough where you feel that you can really start to shake things up design-wise. The core component of each vehicle is your cabin, as this will dictate the number of various parts you can equip to it. The better the cabin, the more energy it can output and the maximum weight your creation can contain. Energy is the measurement of how many guns and utility items you can equip to it.
Weapons come in many shapes and sizes; machine guns, cannons, shotguns, guided and unguided missiles, and even giant drills that can drastically shatter health bars should you get in close. Basic weapons will use around 2 to 3 energy, with better and more effective weapons requiring 4 or higher. Your starter cabin begins with 7 energy and eventually, at level 10, I was able to get a cabin that had an energy rating of 11, and once I added a generator to the mix, it boosted me to 13, and it made quite the difference. As you collect resources and join factions, you will have access to craft a variety of better parts and you’ll soon be able to attach more components to your vehicle than ever before.
Taking down your opposition is as easy as shooting off parts of their vehicle to destroy their cabin. It’s often a good idea to shoot off their guns first, aim for the tires, and then take the cabin out. Be careful not to get too close to a critically damaged opponent as they can trigger a self-destruct mode and possibly take you with them. As you unlock better guns and components to add to your vehicle, dishing out damage and being able to take it becomes far more effective.
While Crossout can be incredibly fun to play, it does require a bit of tweaking to make it control how you would expect it to. The default controls see you accelerating and steering with the same analog stick, a control option I immediately swapped in favor to the ‘racing’ preset where you use the standard triggers for gas and brake; which I’ll attest is a far better way to play this game. The actual steering of your vehicle will depend on weight, wheel placement, and other factors, and while I was able to create some pretty fun vehicles, I always found the steering to require far more effort than necessary. While small turns are easy enough, the large and more sudden turning that is sometimes required is often slow and feels rather unresponsive.
There is a lot the game doesn’t tell you about creating your vehicle as most of my control issues with the game went away when I downloaded a preset car from another player. While I didn’t have near as many of the parts they used in constructing this magnificent creation, it controls far better than anything I was able to make. You are able to test drive most cars even without owning the parts, you just can’t take them into battle.
Combat and creation aside, let’s talk microtransactions. Crossout is a free-to-play title that is designed around you spending money, this is very apparent as the game is built around the ‘Coins’ currency. Coins are used to buy new parts that will make you more effective in matches, however; your own personal skill level will always play a huge factor in that as well. Now, while Coins are bought with real money, you can also earn them by selling off parts you don’t want. Once you figure out how the marketplace works for buying and selling, it is possible to make thousands of Coins each day. I’ve seen people state that the real money aspect of Coins makes the game pay-to-win and others state that it is more pay-to-progress. I like to think of if as somewhere in the middle.
While buying better quality and more effective parts will make you more deadly, it also will raise your Power Score and the matchmaking is supposedly designed to match you up with players of a similar score, however, to be honest, it didn’t always work that way. The Coins are designed so that you can use them to progress faster and be more creative with the parts at your disposal, leaving behind other players who are content with the offerings they earn when they level up, complete challenges, or through buying and selling on the marketplace. If the matchmaking system is to be believed, this means that players who spend money will be paired with those of a similar Power Score. It’s a system that walks a very close line to being completely pay-to-win.
Visually, Crossout is decent to just-ok. Environments are your standard affair with some bland textures that can take a little bit to fully load in, and the background elements are often very pixelated at the start of the match. The vehicles themselves are the real highlight of the game and the designs and colors used can really make the game shine. The music used during matches is enjoyable if a bit generic, but the music used during the creation process feels too slow and out of place.
Crossout’s offerings are very thin and require quite the grind to get anywhere without spending at least a little money. I do feel that the game is worth dropping at least a few bucks to get some decent weaponry and a solid cabin. The one aspect of Crossout that the developer needed to get right is its creation system, and they have done a remarkable job here. I do wish there was a tutorial on how to get more effective steering out of my creation, but I guess that is why we have Youtube. Regardless, I have really enjoyed my time with Crossout and it’s a game I plan on sticking with for quite a while. It can be a very satisfying experience when your creation just flat out destroys another player, so I wouldn’t cross this one out just yet.
Crossout was reviewed and played for Xbox One. All screenshots were taken and uploaded to the Windows 10 app.