In general, I find that multiplayer modes added to big-budget, AAA, action-adventure games are tacked on and of low-value. That was my first thought when I learned about Crackdown 3’s Wrecking Zone mode.
However, I’m happy to say I was totally wrong. Crackdown 3’s multiplayer is both an incredibly good time and THE showcase for the power of cloud computing on Xbox One.
Wrecking Zone is a 5v5, PvP mode in which you’ll need to work together with your team to defeat opposing Agents and collect the badges they drop when they die. Think Supremacy in Destiny.
The differences in Wrecking Zone come down to the destructibility of the environment and the incredible freedom of movement you have in Crackdown 3.
Crackdown 3 Wrecking Zone
In Wrecking Zone, players select one primary and one secondary weapon and one special ability. These include homing missiles, mini-guns, laser rifles and more. The abilities are things like an overshield or a huge vertical leap.
Your loadout is only one part of the equation though with the rest coming down to your ability to stay out of harm’s way while simultaneously getting good positioning on your enemies.
Initially, it felt like absolute chaos. Pure, unadulterated chaos.
But as I acclimatised to the speed and the ideas of constant movement, I realised just how creative this multiplayer mode was. It’s easy to label Wrecking Zone a 3rd-person PvP shooter, but that does it a disservice. It’s so much more.
Wrecking Zone is human dogfighting.
Staying on the move is the only way to have any chance of survival, but even that might not be enough. You may dodge and launch yourself high up into the air, zip forward in mid-air and fling yourself at the ground with the idea of sprinting away and still get murdered by shots from your enemies. This frenetic multiplayer mode may not look it, but it’s definitely one of the most strategic combat experiences I’ve seen in some time.
Wrecking Zone plays just like Crackdown 3 does. Fast-paced and over-the-top. You hold LT to lock onto a target and press RT to fire. A big difference in Wrecking Zone though, is that as you lock onto an enemy, they know you’re aiming at them. That enemy isn’t some dumb NPC, it’s another human and they see a big red laser pointing right at them.
They know they’re being targeted, they know the direction they’re being targeted from and, in most cases, they’ll be able to see the outline of you and your team through the wall. Once an enemy knows they’re a target, an incredible ballet of destruction usually occurs.
The targeted enemy will try to escape and you, as the aggressor, need to try to keep them in sight so you can chip away at their health and earn that precious badge. This is where the human dogfighting comes in.
They strafe, so you strafe. They leap into the air, so you do the same. The run and you follow. It’s cat and mouse of the most thrilling, fast-paced and ludicrous variety. And when you’re the mouse, it’s just as exciting, though it’s tinged with a little bit of terror too. One tried and true strategy from other PvP modes is to hide inside a building or behind a wall. That’s not going to save you in Crackdown 3.
Thanks to the power of cloud computing and Azure Servers, every single piece of architecture in Wrecking Zone can be destroyed, in real time, for everyone playing.
Destruction in the Clouds
The difference an entirely destructible environment makes to gameplay can’t be overstated. In Wrecking Zone, destroying parts of the map is just as effective as flanking or headshots.
I spoke with Microsoft Studios’ Creative Director Joseph Staten and Head of Production Jorg Neumann about Wrecking Zone and the power of the cloud.
Cloud destruction is a future of gaming and Crackdown is the perfect game for it, because it is such an open-world playground where you can blowup stuff – Jorg Neumann
Essentially, through the power of cloud computing, Microsoft is able to give players a fully destructible environment in Wrecking Zone. It both appears the same to all players in the match and gets broken in real time. The destruction scene isn’t client-based, which means that it can be used as an effective strategy in combat.
Destruction matters a lot in terms of breaking lock, breaking line of sight and how you choose to engage. – Jospeh Staten
Neumann and Staten told me that Rainbow Six Siege was an influence on Wrecking Zone as it features small scale destruction that can drastically alter the way a match plays out. However, when it comes to scale, Siege has nothing on Wrecking Zone.
Staten says of Ubisoft’s shooter, “It does have really interesting small scale tactical destruction. How you breach a room, really matters, and that experience is the same.
“But taking down the door of a room, or breaching the walls of the room, or the floor, is very different than collapsing an entire skyscraper.”
And that’s the beauty of Wrecking Zone. Because you have, as Neumann puts it, “Ten players, or ten different machines, having a completely destructible environment, that is in lock-step on every machine.”
This gives you the ability to shoot the floor out from underneath an enemy, remove their cover, flank them by destroying a wall and more. The possibilities in Wrecking Zone really are endless, which makes for a tense, heart-pounding multiplayer experience.
I wasn’t able to see just how many maps, weapons, characters and the like are available for Wrecking Zone when Crackdown 3 launches, but it’s a mode that’s sure to surprise and delight even the most sceptical.
Both Neumann and Staten hope that Crackdown 3’s cloud computing is an inspiration to other developers and help drive innovation forward.
Crackdown 3 will be available for PC and Xbox One on February 15.
PowerUp! attended a preview event hosted by Microsoft for the purposes of writing this preview.