First Impressions on Crush Online
We’ve taken some time out to check the new MOBA meets MMORPG Crush Online, a free to play Asian import that has just gone into closed beta testing for NA/EU audiences that we got a chance to check out for ourselves. The game markets itself as a blend of MMORPG with MOBA elements, the controls are very reminiscent of typical MOBA using the mouse clicks to move around and interact, and firing off your attacks with the QWER keys, that said this is also a fairly traditional setup for many action RPGs (Diablo 3 being the bring one that springs to mind). However, whilst combat is mostly in a typical Action RPG format with world PVP or standard battle arenas, there is in fact MOBA gameplay with actual lane pushing, tower smashing, core destroying objectives and so the MOBA link is more than just a gimmick/marketing ploy.
When first launching up the game at character creation we had a choice of three classes (both male and female options); the Guardian, Punisher or Saint, each does play pretty differently from each other and this is primarily done by the types of weapons each one can use. We decided to go for the Saint who uses dual guns as their initial weapon, ranged attacks with a snare, large AOE and single target burst damage, though fairly early into the levelling process we did pick up our second weapon, blades, which when we switched to using the spacebar turned us into a fast melee combatant that could teleport behind targets, do AOE whirlwind attacks, and single target damage; our QWER attacks changed depending on which weapon we had equipped.
Another main element of character creation was choosing a Faction; Red, Green or Blue, there was no information about any of them available, nothing in the game to say what the effects of choosing your faction would be, but neither was there any standout difference between the three factions that we could see. The lack of information at this stage was a bit troublesome given that the faction PVP/War element is pretty much the core of the game, you would have expected a little more detail on the matter.
Faction PVP works off a territory control system, players can open the map of Gaia and see which territories their faction currently controls and which are in the hands of their rivals, players can enter these areas and begin a battle trying to take control of the tower points in open world PVP. When a battle begins players around the game are informed and they can instantly teleport by spending jewels (premium currency) or they can just choose to walk to the area. This system is explained really poorly and it’s only through trial and error that we actually started to work it out; in the maps you need to take control of tower points before you can destroy the defending teams nexus building (in doing so you then own the territory); any territories not owned by a faction (we’re not sure how long it takes before they convert back to neutral) are owned by PVE bosses that players need to beat. There is, as mentioned, a MOBA style 3v3 battle as well that we played, though whether this is in certain territories or there’s certain elements that trigger it we’re still not entirely sure.
The MOBA content we got to try was a single lane push, two enemy and two allied towers, camps all along one side of the lane including boss camps, and players trying to destroy the enemy team’s nexus. Our games had been mostly AI dominated but players can actively jump into an ongoing battle to take the place of the AI bots, which is pretty cool. A word of warning with PVP is that it does work like world PVP, and so there are no level restrictions and inevitably we did find ourselves facing max level players (level 30 as it stands, but due to a bug in the CBT no one could get above level 27 for some reason). More than once we also went up against people who were kitted out, where we’d be playing alongside two level 27s ourselves but one enemy player was able to absolutely dominate all three of us. Combine with this the ability for enemies to just sit on your spawn location (with no option to respawn elsewhere that we could see) and camp you, it can make for some rather frustrating “battles”.
Gear plays a pretty important role, you get to earn or craft it with materials acquired typically from the Abyss, the PVE side of the game, and then craft your items and upgrade them with SP (earned from PVP) to get extra boosts out of them. The PVE, as with the actual RPG story aspect, is extremely poor and lacks any real effort as far as we’re concerned, the environments initially look nice and graphically decent, but very quickly you notice how cut and paste everything is, how empty these simple territory areas are, and how there is little separating the PVE enemies from each other besides them being melee or ranged; PVE is very boring and really just isn’t a decent alternative from PVP.
That’s how most of the game felt, lacking in effort. Whilst the game is in CBT it feels like an Alpha, but that’s little excuse as it has already existed in Asia and so this is essentially the release version that we’re playing as far as we can tell. The world is empty, the castle/city area that you visit with NPCs is barren of both people, items or any real decoration, it’s just a handful of vendors pointlessly spread out across a large empty area. Similarly the PVE dungeon locations, empty square room after empty square room, linked with a maze of corridors, it has all the hallmarks of being a browser game and in fairness would probably port quite well and be more interesting. It’s just lacking at every turn.
The main faction PVP is the only thing that remotely saves the game, and even that gets a little tedious and doesn’t feel like there’s any major reward from it. When compared to a territory battle game like Planetside 2, FPS vs MOBA aside, taking a territory in PS2 feels like a massive victory, where in Crush Online it just feels like a step in the process to achieving… well… ultimately nothing.