Rock & roll What sounds like a mission from Call of Duty is the start of the Crossfire: Legion campaign and shows in just a few words what you can expect from this real-time strategy game: a lot of action, a lot of oomph, and not quite as many brains.
As colleague Peter pointed out in his preview, Crossfire is not just any brand. The multiplayer shooter of the same name released in South Korea has been highly successful since 2007. Nevertheless, the series is not very well known in the West – but this may also be due to the 0815 setting.
Anyway, what makes Crossfire: Legion exciting isn’t the scenario – but the fact that it’s finally a real-time strategy game with a single-player campaign again. We found out for you how good it is in the test of the Early Access version.
It suits you if…
You like classic real-time strategy games.
You’re looking for something like Starcraft but easy to understand.
You like to see a lot of things explode.
It doesn’t suit you if…
I am already playing Starcraft.
You expect a thrilling story from the single-player campaign.
You have an aversion to in-game shops.
Hooray, hooray, the mercenaries are here.
Crossfire: Legion is firmly based on Starcraft, even if the setting is more reminiscent of Command and Conquer. This means that you don’t slowly build up an economy and a base like in Age of Empires, but only have seven or eight different buildings, two resources, and little time before things get down to business.
The game is divided into three areas, the campaign, skirmish, a co-op mode, and multiplayer, which is to become the heart of the game. As you can already guess from the introduction, the campaign is characterized by the typical US military hooray, which seems outdated.
Shortly, it is about the mercenary group’s Black List (the good guys who act out of charity) and Global Risk (the bad guys who like to lock people up) known from the Crossfire template.
But in the end, it’s all too reminiscent of American cliche shooters where good muscle-bound Americans with lots of guns save the world from evil muscle-bound Americans with lots of guns. Add a pinch of youthful coolness to the experienced leaders of the world’s most influential organizations, and the box of clichés is almost plundered.
The urge for action is expressed playfully in entertaining missions, in the course of which we shoot our way through a futuristic city and blow up a bunker on a snow-covered mountain. You usually command small and medium-sized combat units or sneak across the map with a single hero unit. After the first two missions, you can then set up your base – and then you have to wait for more content in the course of Early Access. So far, only the first four missions are playable.
A pinch of Starcraft or, even better, two!
So if you’ve played the Starcraft 2 and Extra Story campaigns centered around the Ghost Nova, you’ll be familiar with Crossfire: Legion’s mission management style, as the requirements alternate in a similar way, as does the pacing. Also, the similarities don’t end there. The map design, resource depletion, building, and unit management are also partially the same down to the last detail.
The two resources of fuel and material, for example, can only be accessed at specified locations with another command center, where small worker drones then travel back and forth between the center and the resource field. This is a one-to-one system from Starcraft.
The cards are also predefined, the resources are arranged symmetrically, and the base locations are always in the same places. The starting base has a narrow ramp to the rest of the map for better defense.
With the raw materials, you build supply depots that increase the population limit and barracks, tank factories, and hangars to train infantry, artillery, and aircraft. There are also defensive towers and an arsenal where you can research upgrades.
Control groups forward, another.
You are speaking of upgrades. Some units have abilities, some of which are only unlocked through further development. These can be poison bombs, energy shields, EMPs, or jump attacks. So, if you want to compete in multiplayer, you’ll need to use the keyboard and control panels to get the most out of the troops.
In general, understanding the units helps, whether against the AI or human players. For example, the Titan (Starcraft’s Thor counterpart) has a potent but prolonged attack, suboptimal against a horde of infantry.
The missions are well done, and Crossfire: Legion is fun. However, the game can never keep up with the great Starcraft in staging, mission design, and storytelling.
Terran, Protoss and… more Terran
What we have kept secret so far: Like Starcraft, Crossfire: has three factions, at least two of which seem to be heavily inspired by Starcraft. They have tanks that can go into a static siege mode, while their infantry can give themselves short-term increased movement and rate of fire for a slight loss of health (save the Navy). The evil Global Risk is Terrans.
The third tech group newly introduced in the universe, the New Horizon, takes on the role of the Protoss. Your first infantry unit has two electric blades, plunge into melee combat and get a charged upgrade to get to the enemy faster. In addition to their life bar, your units and buildings also have shields that regenerate outside of combat.
Only the third faction, the Black List, is not directly related to the Zerg. It tends to be characterized by lighter units than Global Risk and is thoroughly average.
Alternate units are the way to balance hell.
The commanders bring a little variety. Depending on which leader you choose for a game, you have two other special abilities. With one, you can heal troops or make them run faster, and the other has a powerful bombardment up your sleeve. Killed or lost units charge the energy for this.
Before an average skirmish or multiplayer game, you can decide which commander you want to use. The same also applies to the units! Crossfire: Legion comes with a deck system, which means you can choose an alternate unit for each unit of each faction. For example, Global Risk can swap out its marines, pardon me, soldiers for shield soldiers, which are slower but can take a lot more.
We can’t comment on multiplayer balance at this point. Still, as seasoned RTS players, we’re confident that while this system might be excellent for gameplay variety, it will be pure balance hell for competitive play.
No, no, no, an in-game shop also had to go in.
And the bad part is yet to come: You have to buy the alternative troops with an in-game currency. You can also earn them, but you are faster with real money. While the devs said matchmaking would take your unit progression into account, we’re skeptical. In a competitive real-time strategy game, an in-game shop that provides access to other units is generally not a good idea.
Apart from this monetization concept, multiplayer offers a lot of entertainment. The sound design, in particular, is compelling, for example, when tanks explode, or helicopters are shot down. It’s fun to flatten your opponent’s base. We can still forgive minor problems finding the way concerning the Early Access status, just like some animations that seem a bit stiff.
So in that sense, Crossfire: Legion is a solid game, no question about it. But in addition to the questionable in-game shop, the title from Canada has a big problem that even Early Access will not be able to solve: Crossfire: Legion has positioned itself so close to Starcraft that it is now entirely overshadowed by it.
Preliminary scoring box
|category||Pros and cons||rating|
|presentation||+ great sound design |
+ explosions are impressive.
+ high-quality cutscenes in the campaign
+ nice play of light
– partially stiff animations
|game design||+ Alternative units can increase replay value and variety. |
+ Games are short and the action sets in quickly …
– … but this is sometimes chaotic due to model sizes and bottlenecks.
– The three peoples hardly differ in the basic play style.
? Will there be any more content or will existing content be adapted?
|balance||+ Even cheap units have their place. |
+ Symmetrical/mirrored cards ensure equal opportunities.
– Alternative units will hardly be perfectly balanced.
? Will the balance pass the multiplayer endurance test?
? Are Commander abilities not getting too powerful or useless?
|Story/Atmosphere||+ Looks plus sound and action exude call-of-duty atmosphere. |
– Setting maximally bland (mercenary groups will rule the world in the future)
– Story full of teenage military cheers
– Look of the units and buildings is a bit too clean.
? How does the story continue?
|Scope||+ campaign and additional game modes (co-op against the AI, payload mode) |
+ three factions with very different units
– very few buildings
? What game modes are coming?
? How long do the remaining eleven missions keep you busy?
|rating bias||65 to 75|
Both factors don’t make Crossfire: Legion easy in my hands. Because while it’s undoubtedly a competent game at this stage, I can see little reason anyone would choose this title over Starcraft 2. Blizzard’s RTS king is simply superior in every respect and is now even free except for the campaigns. The only reason I can think of would be that Crossfire: could serve as a genre entry point because overall, it’s less extensive and, therefore, more manageable.
But then there is also the unspeakable in-game shop. The developers can offer single-player content or pure cosmetics in their shop. But other units for multiplayer that you have to earn without additional money first? That’s a pretty stupid idea, in my opinion.
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