Riddle me this: when was the last time a multiplayer FPS launched without some controversy? Halo Infinite sure had it’s fair share of naysayers. Call of Duty: Vanguard, too. Battlefield 2042? We’ll definitely have to go a bit further back. Overwatch, perhaps? That was six years ago, folks. CrossfireX isn’t exactly the best new multiplayer FPS around – far from it – but it’s certainly not as bad as you’ve been lead to believe.
The History of Crossfire
CrossfireX is built upon Smilegate’s hugely popular Crossfire, which debuted in South Korea back in 2007. That original title became the world’s most-played video game by player count in 2020, with a lifetime total of 1 billion users in 80 countries worldwide. It was the world’s top-grossing online game as of 2014, and went on to become one of the highest-grossing games of all time, with a lifetime revenue of $12 billion USD as of 2018. It has spawned countless spin-offs, a movie and a television series.
The ambitions for CrossfireX were to expand upon everything Crossfire did right. There was a goal to expand the narrative of the series, and bring a more global audience to the game. CrossfireX adds a campaign into the mix, built by renown Finnish developer Remedy Entertainment. However, that’s not what we’re here to talk about. We’re going to talk about the core gameplay mode: online multiplayer.
CrossfireX has launched with just two modes. The first: one team has a bomb to place while the other has to defend. It’s a straight forward gameplay mode which is very punishing. A limited set of equipment sees players going toe-to-toe on tactics and accuracy. Once you’ve been taken out, you’re out for the round.
This gameplay mode is designed for the ‘simulation’ audience. It’s no Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, but as far as multiplayer FPS games go it’s a reasonable depiction of military tactics. It is incredibly satisfying when your team outwits the opposition, especially when you’re a key player in that victory.
Conversely, there’s also a point control mode. Starting on a small map you must gain control of two areas. The battle eventually moves to a lower area with a single control point. However, idiocy is still punished – with just one or two well placed bullets taking you out – you’re not out when downed. It also adds a little arcade flavour to the proceedings…
Much like Counter-Strike and the criminally underrated Shadowrun, players can pick three additional abilities from the beginning of the match. These range from faster sprinting to ever-so-slightly increased damage. More than this however, is the in-match progression.
As your team engages in combat you’ll earn XP (more so when you’re the one popping headshots, but a small amount when a teammate does so). This XP can be used to summon one of three different special combatants. These combatants change the way you play the game considerably.
They bring in incredibly effective stealth outfits, faster movement, weapons with less bullet spread, more health and much more. They change the way the game plays significantly. Not just for you as the player, but also how other players react when they see you on the battlefield.
CrossfireX is offered, as you might expect, as a ‘live service’ game. The multiplayer is a free-to-play experience with Battle Passes, seasons and all that guff we’ve come to expect from this business model. I personally have no care for such things and so it’s easy to ignore. However, what’s less easy to ignore is the fact that the game is somewhat lightweight compared to its contemporaries, especially on Xbox Series X|S. The fact of the matter is that, as time goes on, CrossfireX will undoubtedly receive new gameplay modes, new weapons, new cosmetic items and much more. Just like its predecessor, and just like its live service peers.
The core gameplay loop is tight. There’s enough here to sink your teeth into for now, and for those who have already begun playing there’s an obvious level of experienced players already taking charge on the battlefield. As the days, weeks, months and years continue, CrossfireX will surely grow into something almost unrecognisable from today, but what little is here will remain as the fundamentals are strong enough to build an audience on, and thusly it’s a game that will stay relevant for many years.