Multiplayer shooters is a pretty crowded market these days and there are some heavy hitters dominating the genre – for free. The thing with many of them is that they’re not entirely friendly for new players, especially someone who’s late to the game. Even Call of Duty multiplayer now has a pretty steep learning curve, which I found out the hard way when I tried Modern Warfare (2019) years after staying away from the genre.
CrossfireX on the Xbox One takes a slightly old-school approach by simplifying gameplay to the point where its almost reminiscent of the early versions of Counter-Strike. That said it does offer variety in game modes, three of which were showcased in the multiplayer beta demo.
The beta starts by offering you two game types – Classic and Modern. The Classic mode took away some modern gameplay ‘conveniences’ like aim-down sight and sprinting and perma-death for the round, keeping the action heavily dependent on running and gunning. The Classic gameplay option had two modes in the beta – The first was a Team Match where one team has a mission objective to plant a bomb while the other team defends; both teams switching sides in the subsequent round. This really took me back to the terrorists vs. counter-terrorist battles in Counter-Strike when I played it back in 2001, with its fast-paced game, and no fuss controls.
The other Classic mode Spectre was definitely more unique where one team plays as defending translucent knife wielding warriors (Spectres), and the other team playing as regular soldiers, armed with guns and with the objective to plant a bomb. The thing is, your translucency can almost turn entirely invisible if you stay still giving you a massive advantage in terms of a surprise attack. But if the enemy gets too close, they would be able to hear your heavy breathing apparatus, that can give your camping position away. Plus the fact that they have guns puts them in a bit of an advantage once you’ve been detected, especially because it takes multiple stabs to take down an enemy.
There’s also a Modern gameplay option that brings back the quality-of-life additions like ADS, sprinting and most importantly – respawns. The beta offered just a Point Capture gameplay mode in this option where each team has to lay claim on the points indicated on the map while maximising on their enemy kill count. It immediately felt like an overall friendlier entry-point to CrossfireX, even though it ran the risk of not really offering much new. GR Tower was a pretty interesting map (and also the only map offered in the beta), taking place in a open two-floor layout, offering lots of spaces for camping, narrow escalators for trapping the enemy and a big open area for a straight-up skirmish. It was a good map with two points available for capture inside the tower, after which you get to zipline to the outside where the final third point was available.
With each match in any of the modes you score points that let you select a number of perks for your profile. This offers an interesting mix in the gameplay as you can get your player to move faster, or have a better defense points complete with a riot shield. It’s a simple form of progression compared to what the competition offers these days but CrossfireX is simple if nothing else.
I personally found the modern gameplay a better option for someone with my weak multiplayer shooter skillsets, but the Spectre mode was truly the one that stood out of the lot. Being an old-school player who really doesn’t find too much joy in multiplayer FPS genre’s newer offerings, I did see the value that CrossfireX was bringing with its gameplay, but I’m not sure how well appreciated that may be to the genre loyalists who have cut their teeth on Battlefield, Call of Duty and even Apex Legends. It somewhat reminds me of the great time I had with Quake Champions a couple of years back, which was another classic multiplayer FPS formula that I personally love, but didn’t end up with too many takers.
That said, I’ll definitely keep a lookout for it when it releases later this year on the Xbox One, complete with a single player campaign from Remedy Entertainment – the studio responsible for Control and Max Payne.