We’re already confused at the idea of a sci-fi survival horror game set in the PUBG universe. Now, prepare to take on Crossfire Legion, a classical RTS set in the world of the massive free-to-play shooter CrossFire. You know, the one where the SAS can face off against zombies and sexy nurses armed with the most garish takes on modern weapons ever seen in multiplayer.
We had access to a very early version of the game, so the plot remains a mystery. However, there are two factions in Crossfire Legion, with a third coming soon. The first faction, Global Risk, is a union of first world nations. They’re fighting for order and stability, with a clearly sinister bent. That’s always the case with these “ORDER!!” factions that come with the weakest standard infantry in the game. However, things really take a turn for the Kojima with the Blacklist, a PMC fighting to protect the poor of the world.
Real life is StarCraft, actually
None of that matters, though, since Crossfire Legion is trying to be StarCraft above all else. I mean, come on, the humble Risk trooper can even take combat drugs, trading health for rate of fire.
So that’s what the “classical RTS” talk means: it’s a pared-down StarCraft. One in which you can’t even pretend that resource gathering is different. You can only build your HQ atop the chevron connecting supply and fuel nodes, but you still need workers to gather them. See, this is trying something new (fixed based locations) without really innovating. You still manually build each worker who will traverse the one possible path between the node and the base. But hey, once you have that down, you can merrily send your troops straight into the grind.
69th Battle of Isonzo
Seriously, though. Crossfire Legion has preset keys present in the UI to select all infantry (or vehicles, or planes, or support vehicles) on the map, which suggests that throwing all your forces into a mindless grind is expected behavior. And I can understand why. The combat ranges are miniscule, and units are destroyed in seconds. I eventually won my first match against the AI by building four barracks, setting the rally point next to the enemy base, and building Troopers faster than they were killing them.
However, despite all that, there is some misplaced expectation that you’ll engage in single-unit battles. Yes, some unit abilities can be activated even when they’re selected en masse. But stuff like harpooning individual vehicles and planes with the Blacklist buggy, or creating quicksand with their support microwave truck, fly in the face of high-paced murder fest where almost everything dies immediately.
And with no attack move command in Crossfire Legion, these are battles only AI or APM (actions per minute) fanatics can fight in a combined-arms fashion. Granted, how that will shake out in the final game is still up in the air, because the current balance favors Global Risk. As long as they can outlast the early game infantry inferiority, their later toys can absolutely dominate Blacklist in a fight. You can even consider an all-air approach as Blacklist currently lacks tough anti-air options.
Quintilus Varus, give me back my Crossfire Legion!
I say currently, because Crossfire Legion seems to be aiming at an army deck feature. So, in the future, you might be able to switch around commanders, trucks for tanks, and so on. You’ll still be playing in APM hell, where you produce one infantryman at a time and cover doesn’t exist, but hey, customized army makeup!
Oh, right, the commanders. They provide two powers each, and they require commander points to fire off. Currently, there’s no in-game way to refill them. Though, ostensibly, it should happen as you kill and lose units. The powers can really be something, from the Risk’s absolutely devastating artillery barrage (big enough to catch an entire army in), to Blacklist’s healing Ghost Array and teleporting troops to said array.
What’s sad to me, an avowed APM “strategy” disliker, is the fact that Crossfire Legion looks nice. It’s not Company of Heroes knock-you-down-on-your-ass AAA experience, but the units are well designed and pleasantly chunky. It’s a shame they all march into the guns and die immediately. It’s also sad that the maps, no matter how pretty they are or what structures dot them, are essentially entirely non-interactive. It’s all just set dressing, nothing more.
Too bad, so sad
Honestly, I don’t follow the StarCraft meta, so I can’t say if there’s a place under the sun for Crossfire Legion. The differences between Crossfire Legion and the established king of APM RTS, StarCraft, are too small to make it fresh and interesting, and the changes that do exist don’t feel like they’re enough. It doesn’t iterate or improve on “classical” RTS formulas in any way. At least Company of Heroes, as cursed by APM as it is, gave us squads, suppression, cover, and armor facings. I don’t think having a third faction at launch will make up for what Crossfire Legion is lacking.