Hero shooters are in fashion these days, so matches in the middle or at the bottom of the field have a hard time competing with lead dogs. Crucible is one of those games, where its mediocrity only wins the dismissal. Crucible is like a bland, forgettable meal – harmless, but quickly overlooked for something with a little more flavor and spice.
The heroes of Crucible fail to entertain at the personality and character level, but they often have memorable and interesting moves that respond to perfection and learning. With the exception of the adorable robot Bugg, most of the actors are unattractive. With figures colored by numbers like Military Man, Berserker Lizard and Fish Sniper, the heroes feel like they have been torn from the pages of a rejected comic book.
On the loading side, learning the nuances of a character is very fun. For example, activist Sazan has an easy-to-understand skill set on the surface, but has plenty of room for growth and skills. Finding out how to distance yourself from juggling my assault rifle, shotgun and throwing knife refills was a fun exercise. Mastering a set of movements, both partial and perfect, is satisfying and applicable to many heroes.
The map, with its occurrence appearances that help drive the action, is an appropriate environment with many spaces for playing. Although there is only one map, it is constantly changing with different appearances to mix things up, and you can learn the locations of various landmarks to hide behind the cover or jump off a ledge. Event appearances differ from game to game, but many are just NPC enemies. Other events like power capsules improve your entire team, but most of the time you may not see another soul when you do these tasks in an arena largely devoid of activity.
Team confrontations are the best part of the game, with skirmishes that select players and small-scale engagements in the spotlight. Real 4v4s are interesting, but there is an obvious lack of team game elements. Combat is weightless outside of a few large attacks, with little feedback or punch for most weapons and abilities. Everyone just does the same thing they would normally do in a 1v1 scenario and hopes things will change. Crucible has no voice communication in the game, which requires you to connect with people you already know through other services. For example, letting your teammates know that you are sacrificing an objective to glean an advantage elsewhere is an important memo to relay because they can go to fight differently and end up putting the other team even further. A ping system tries to mitigate this, but it is not practical. Depending on the game, you may not even see the other team very much, as you both close dinosaurs and choose laggards in 3v1 or swap control of points of interest.
One of the biggest issues is the PvE component, which basically asks you to spend time diving into dinosaurs and spitting creatures between meetings with other teams. Fighting against these NPCs is fun for some games, but it becomes an absolute boredom and chore. The PvE component does everything in its power to prevent you from fighting other players, instead, forcing you to slaughter blobs at a wholesale XP rating instead of actually playing the game.
Of the three game modes, the only one worth mentioning is Heart of the Hives. If you are going to play, this is the mode to check. Two teams of four compete for PvE goals, so you have some interesting decisions to make, such as when to engage with the somewhat dangerous PvE entity, or whether you need to give a flag capture to the other team so that you can capture levels and bonuses for easier earning. Like many other aspects of the game, this mode provides fun for a few games, then disappears completely from memory. Eventually, you realize you could do something else or play something more fun than being dragged slowly across the map on a chain of dinosaurs for what could be a slightly satisfying team fight.
Crucible is not a bad game, but neither is it a good game. In the context of today’s hero shooter environment, it makes for a lost soul, struggling to find a strong sense of identity. Over time, Crucible may find reasons to stay on the menu, but right now the recipe is diluted and dull.