Amazon’s Crucible Wants to Focus on Being a ‘Gamer’s Game’

by in General | May, 20th 2020

Last year, I spent some time with Amazon Game Studios as they worked on an upcoming game. Sadly, New World has yet to make a mark. Instead, Amazon’s first major game is Crucible, a free-to-play competitive, team-based shooter. If that doesn’t scream “esports” at you with caps locked turned on, I simply don’t know what to tell you.

However, Amazon’s esports plans are unclear quite yet. From what we understand, they want it to be a “gamer’s game,” whatever that means. But in a world where Fortnite, Overwatch, and R6 Siege are the law of the land for free-to-play, competitive shooters that are also team-based, is it too late for Crucible?

I’ll say one thing though. God bless, that game is gorgeous.

What’s the Story?

Louis Castle, lead of Amazon’s Relentless Studios in Seattle, has quite the pedigree to his name. From Command and Conquer to Disney’s The Lion King, he’s been around the block. But what exactly does he mean by a “gamer’s game?” That’s the big question I have. When I think of “a gamer’s game,” I don’t think of a f2p with microtransactions. I sure don’t think of season passes either, but this game is confirmed for both.

I don’t hate these things (well, I hate season passes), but I understand their purpose in the f2p market. They’re a necessity to fund the game’s existence. That is until it becomes awful and predatory. I can think of quite a few games right off the top of my head. But I’m here to be positive and not single out any one game.

The biggest lead for me is that Amazon owns Twitch. It’s the biggest source of watching esports for the English speaking world and to say that Amazon has no plans for Crucible esports sort of boggles my mind. It’s a PVP, team-oriented, f2p shooter. That statement practically jumps up to the belltower a’la The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and instead of yelling “Sanctuary!” he declares “Crucible!”

“We’re very cognizant of the fact that we’re new to the space and we’re new to the category,” Castle said. “We’ve done our best and we’ve made a nice game. We think it’s good and we expect it to change and grow … I’m always fond of the saying that ‘you can’t push a rope.’ It’s the community that pushes you into the esport arena. That’s not something we can engineer. There are many people in our alpha [testing] group who are excited by its potential, so I don’t want to say that we wouldn’t support it, but that’s not something we’re going to go out and claim.”

He’s right there, though. Pushing a game as an esport, when there’s no audience for it yet, is more than dangerous. It can kill a game before it even gets off the ground. Amazon, despite owning Twitch, does not have a stellar game release catalog. The Grand Tour series was mediocre, at best. Remember Breakaway, perhaps? Of course not, because that brawler is also dead.

However, I am still hopeful for New World to come out and rock the world. I loved what I saw of that. Castle insists this isn’t some mediocre, family-friendly game either. It’s got sarcastic, smart characters, like Tosca. She’s an anthropomorphic rodent with an acid gun. You had me at “acid gun” if I can be honest.

Crucible is brightly-colored and requires a decent machine to play. It’s not as light as something like Fortnite or League of Legends, where almost any machine on the market can run it. But it does have a pretty diverse roster of characters, with 10 in the core launch. Whether you want to play a sharpshooter (Ajonah), or have an awesome flame thrower to roast people to cinders with (Summer), or have a robot sidekick (Rahi), Crucible’s got you covered.

Crucible is also going to have three game modes at launch, and there will be some time before the first competitive season comes into play. That gives Amazon more time to plan any kind of esports action. I imagine there will, at least, be some kind of invitational to gauge the interest in esports. Put together some teams of famous influencers and shooter streamers/esports pros, and see what happens.

These matches, regardless of the mode, are focused on defeating the other teams. But you also need to need to capture the hearts of alien life known as Hives. As the matches go on, players collect Essence from objectives or battling the environment, which will let players enhance the skills of their chosen characters.

Whether it’s seven teams of two, the last man standing, or eight versus eight, you have to explore the environment and always be aware of your surroundings. What I think will be key, and will separate the great from the mediocre is being able to determine when you need to hunt players, or when you need to battle NPCs and farm Essence.

But here’s what I like the most: You don’t have to go searching for weapons! In that sense, it’s not a traditional battle royale game. You start out with all the gear you need to fight, and a variety of skills. But you do level up, and I’m always a fan of that style of gameplay.

“You’re dropped into the game fully armed and with all your abilities so you don’t start in some way where you have run around frantically looking for a pistol or knife,” Castle says. “You start out fully capable, and your character grows during their match. You level up. There are different emergent strategies that happen while you’re playing. It rewards the player who has knowledge and is thinking strategically about play.”

So, does Amazon have plans for an esports scene of Crucible just yet? No, I can’t say that they do. But this is a game that does something similar to what we already see but takes it in a wild new direction. We’re going to keep our eyes on this game as it develops. Interestingly, we didn’t see tons of teams immediately announce Crucible squads. Perhaps Amazon has kept a much tighter rein on information about this, as opposed to Valorant.

There’s no word yet, but this could be a very exciting esport to watch. Having teams do more than just fight it out constantly could be intense. We would see the teams that have an understanding of strategy and planning come out on top (possibly).

Do you want to see an esports Crucible scene, or is it still too early to say? Let us know below!


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