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Crucible: Everything we know about Amazon's new free-to-play shooter

Every game publisher seems to want a piece of the hero shooter pie, an unsurprising trend given how popular and lucrative the genre has proven. From Overwatch, the reigning hero shooter king, to Valorant, the new kid on the block, each title draws an abundance of players and stream viewers. Even Amazon is joining the shooter party — and the AAA publishing crowd in general — with its own entry, Crucible.

Since Crucible may be Amazon's ticket into AAA gaming, the company has to put its best foot forward. Crucible needs to impress players and, more importantly, attract a sizable fanbase before its release. Crucible is yet another hero shooter, a choice that could lend itself to massive success or failure in an already oversaturated market. 

What sets Crucible apart from the rest of the crowd? What does Crucible have that will convince players to put down games like Apex Legends and try it instead? Continue reading to find out.

Don't expect Crucible on consoles when it releases

Crucible is scheduled to launch May 20, 2020 on Steam, but you might wonder if it will be available on other platforms. After all, Amazon's previous game The Grand Tour is playable on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, so surely Crucible will be as well, right?

Unfortunately, Amazon has not made any statements regarding an eventual or even potential console port, so gamers shouldn't hold their breath. A port could eventually emerge if Crucible proves popular enough to warrant such an investment, but for now, everyone interested in Crucible should break out their mouse and keyboard. On the bright side, players won't have to worry about crossplay, which comes with its own problems.

Crucible deviates from the standard hero shooter formula

If you read that Crucible is a hero shooter and thought, "Great, another multiplayer FPS with characters who have MMO-like abilities and specific roles," your fears are somewhat warranted. After all, MOBAs were the hot item that many companies produced before the great battle royale and hero shooter craze. The MOBA market became so saturated that picking a game essentially came down to choosing your favorite coat of paint (e.g., sci-fi, fantasy, or superhero themes). 

The swift decline of MOBAs — and subsequent rise of battle royales and hero shooters — demonstrated the importance of reinventing a trend instead of following it. Thankfully, Crucible is posed to set itself apart from the competition. While Crucible is technically a hero shooter at heart, it takes quite a few liberties, including its camera angle. The trailer clearly demonstrates the game is a third-person shooter. 

The differences don't end there. While players will have a relatively small roster of 10 characters at launch — including a robotic botanist, a big alien trucker, and a Rocket Raccoon look alike — you can radically alter how characters play as they level up and obtain new upgrades. Instead of having players fit the character, the characters will fit the player.

Crucible's modes pull elements from multiple genres

Crucible's game modes are a grab bag of different mechanics, with each essentially serving as a different game genre. Heart of the Hives, for instance, is a PvPvE free-for-all where two teams of four fight giant AI-controlled bosses in a race to collect three giant hearts. 

Meanwhile, Alpha Hunters plays out like a battle royale. Teams of two fight for survival, but players who lose their teammates can team up with other partnerless gamers to try and win the match — at least until one player decides to betray the other. 

Finally, there's Harvester Command, a a straightforward eight vs. eight match. In this mode, teams participate in a glorious king of the hill fight for supremacy and resources.

Players who wanted to try hero shooters but didn't like how the characters or game modes worked might find Crucible's variety more to their liking.

Crucible has quite the team behind it

Every ship needs a captain to ensure it emerges from rough waters and reaches its destination unscathed. Amazon has secured quite the navigator for Crucible: industry veteran Louis Castle.

Though that name may not ring a bell, you are likely familiar with his library of work. Castle is the co-founder of the now-defunct Westwood Studios, best known for the Command & Conquer franchise. He helped turn the series into the lauded RTS juggernaut that retro gamers love, and he also won a BAFTA award for the game Boom Blox. Not many game developers can claim this honor.

Of course, Castle is but one man, and game development is a long and arduous process that usually requires teams of developers working in harmony. A captain without a crew is a man who yells at the ocean and expects it to sail his ship, and Castle has a solid crew to back him up. According to Venturebeat, Castle is joined by alums from big-name companies such as Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, and ArenaNet. Amazon clearly isn't shooting blanks with Crucible.

Twitch integration was originally a key feature for Crucible

Since Amazon owns Twitch, you might assume the company would implement unique streaming features for games it publishes. After all, non-Amazon published titles like Clustertruck have used the technology to let viewers spice up game streams and turn trucks into bounce pads, death lasers, and everything in between. Since Amazon is publishing Crucible, the company has a gold-wrapped opportunity to implement some special Twitch stream features that can convert the game into the de facto stream-worthy hero shooter.

While Amazon hasn't stated whether Crucible will include Twitch perks, The Verge claims the game's 2016 reveal included promises of Twitch integration. At that time, Amazon stated one person could oversee Crucible matches as a "game master." However, four years is an eternity in game development and more than enough time for plans to change. Perhaps Crucible will launch with Twitch integration, perhaps not. You may have to wait until release day to see whether Amazon has followed through on its initial plans for the game.