“Crucible”, Amazon’s bid to enter the competitive shooting space, wants to be “a player’s game”

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Amazon is a giant. Of course. And that’s why the company is careful, says the gaming industry veteran who oversees the launch of the company’s first major video game, to not appear to be using all of its power.

“Crucible”, out Wednesday on PC, is a free-to-play, competitive, team-based online shooter that wants to endear gamers with affordable adjustments to the familiar rather than a complete upheaval of any kind. It enters a landscape dominated by “Fortnite”, “Overwatch” and “Apex Legends”, and mixes the shooters-based gameplay of the Battle Royale genre, playing with more strategic elements and upgrading characters found in them. Multiplayer online combat arenas like “League of Legends”.

“The kind of game we make is gamer-based, for sure,” says Louis Castle, who runs Amazon’s Relentless Studios in Seattle and is a longtime game designer / executive whose credits range from interactive adaptations of Disney’s “The Lion King”. “To the” Command & Conquer “series.

Castle knows that not everything with Amazon’s name will be exactly a little word of mouth. The company, a powerhouse in providing back-end game server technology, also owns the Twitch streaming service. And while Castle stresses that making “Crucible” “observable” was a primary goal, he says Amazon doesn’t immediately push for the sci-fi game to enter, say, the esports arena.

Ajonah is one of the characters in “Crucible”.

(Amazon games)

“We are very aware that we are new to the space and that we are new to the category. We did our best and had a great game. We think it’s good and we expect it to change and grow … I still love the saying “you can’t push a rope.” It’s the community that drives you into the esports arena, “Castle says.” It’s not something we can conceive of. There are a lot of people in our alpha. [testing] group that is excited about its potential, so I don’t mean to say that we wouldn’t support it, but that’s not something we’re going to claim. “

Many have watched Amazon’s quest to enter the consumer gaming space. When Castle joined the company in 2017, “Crucible” was already in development. Around this time, an advertised brawler called “Breakaway” was killed, and a companion game to the “The Grand Tour” series was met with a lukewarm response. After “Crucible”, Amazon will release “New World”, an online role-playing game in August.

“Both teams have been working on these games for a long time,” Castle says. “I imagine that expectations will be set because this is the first, but they will quickly be changed because the ‘New World’ has nothing to do with ‘Crucible’.”

Castle doesn’t try to pretend that “Crucible” is a game for everyone and for the whole family to talk to. increased concentration sure the capacity of the medium to log in during this pandemic moment. So while “Crucible” has an anthropomorphic rodent – Tosca is her name, and she’s a master of sarcasm and acid gun shooting – as well as a shredder robot with an interest in botany and chaos, ” Crucible “is designed to be a game in which the characters have deep skills that will take time to master.

While Relentless Studios hasn’t set out to make a game that would require the highest of high-end PCs to run, it will still need a relatively decent machine to play. It pays off somewhat in the style of the game, Castle says.

The team wanted a game that was bright and detailed, and that showed the personality of its diverse and lively character roster, which featured a wide mix of genres, species and races. Her base 10 playable characters at launch range from Ajonah, a sharp, blue-toned shooting alien influenced by “Avatar” with connections to nature, to flamethrower warrior Summer and the jovial Rahi, whose robot companion always seems to bring a smile to Rahi’s face.

Friendly but deadly robots populate the world of

Friendly but deadly robots populate the world of “Crucible”.

(Amazon games)

“We pushed the bar to make sure it was something really nice,” Castle says. “It means you have to have a reasonably good machine, something over the last few years, to play well. We didn’t go for an overly simplified art style to expand audiences. We felt that in the free-to-play space, a lot of games just didn’t make any progress when it came to their visual style. It’s not a general statement, but the art style is a bit more whimsical. “

There will be three distinct game modes at launch, and Castle expects the studio to spend about two months before starting the actual first season of “Crucible,” which, like competitors in space, gives players access to time-limited rewards. The game, like “Fortnite,” will take a cosmetic approach to monetizing the character’s skin, adding to the sale of his season passes (950 in-game credits, which equates to $ 9.50).

All matches, whether it’s taking out other teams or capturing the “hearts” of an alien life form called Hives, can change as players acquire what the game calls “Essence.” . The latter is accumulated by completing objectives or fighting the environment, allowing players to advance the skill set of characters.

So while the modes of “Crucible” range from teams of two competing against seven other pairs to be the last group standing to an eight-on-eight game centered on catching and defending, all ask players to make a mix. environmental exploration. Taking out computer-controlled characters and aliens can be just as vital as harvesting the planet or hiring other players from the opposing team, as Essence will be key to the matches.

“You’re immersed in the game fully armed and with all your abilities, so you don’t somehow start off where you’ve been running around frantically looking for a gun or a knife,” Castle says. . “You start out fully capable and your character grows during their match. You level up. There are different emerging strategies that occur while you are playing. It rewards the player who has knowledge and who thinks strategically about the game. “


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