After eight years of existence, you can expect Amazon Game Studios to have a plethora of game launches ahead – especially after hiring famous game industry veterans to lead some of its teams. However, the history of Amazon Game Studios has mainly been about delays, cancellations, fluctuation and lukewarm launches.
Hence the publisher’s first major free-to-play shooter, crucible, starts tomorrow, May 20, on Windows PCs (steam) without a lot of properly laid red carpet. After making the game hands-on in a preview session, I’m honestly not inspired to shake it up or raise other people’s expectations.
I use instead crucibleStart as an opportunity to take a look back at the history of Amazon Game Studios. This department could have been an industry juggler when it came to leveraging Amazon’s cash reserves and the dominance of the technology industry. Instead, it reached its current state in May 2020. What did it do What did it cancel? And what’s up? crucible?
Sev Zero: More like Sev 6.5
The first launch of AGS in 2012 reflected its era: a Facebook game called “Hidden Object” Living objects. But it came the moment the Facebook gaming bubble burst, and Zynga struggled to keep users, and Facebook emphasized the hideous notifications and nagging that his greatest games had previously relied on. AGS quietly moved away from a Facebook gaming push shortly thereafter.
Two years later, the company’s first Fire TV set-top box was launched, priced at $ 99 with Android technology that focuses on games and can keep up with Ouya from that time. But as I wrote back then, AGS’s first game for launching the device, the 3D tower defense game Sev Zero“Left the studio’s reputation for uninspired clones intact.” The developer’s other 2014 games –To-Fu anger and Stories from space– Were Amazon Appstore exclusive people who were worse off?
Around this time, Amazon began a bullish internal push to develop its own high-profile console games, including a quiet take on two major game developers: Clint Hocking (Far Cry 2) and Kim Swift (portal). A quick company profile from October 2014 included the two developers’ references to “excitement” about upcoming unannounced projects. Hocking had left AGS by July 2015 (and then refused to comment on Ars Technica). Shortly afterwards, Swift left AGS to take on a role in Amazon’s Broadcaster Success division, including work on the company’s Twitch Prime promotion, before fully leaving the company in late 2016. The two games from AGS in 2015 –Lost inside and Until the morning light– were largely developed by external studios.
Then AGS fell silent, and Amazon squeezed into the living room, away from the game controller packages and toward the small size and price of its Fire Stick line – not to mention a number of speaking home assistants.
TwitchCon three (and a race disaster)
In 2016, AGS performed at a major Amazon-related game-obsessed event: TwitchCon 2016. (Amazon had acquired Twitch two years earlier.) One of his newly announced games, Break awaywas built by Double Helix, a game studio that Amazon bought in 2014, and it was advertised with strong Twitch integration. The game was similar to the TV series of the late 1980s / early 90s American gladiatorsIt was about teams attacking each other while controlling and immersing a “relic” on the opposing half of the battlefield.
After his blowout debut in 2016 and an alpha test closed in 2017, however Break away disappeared. It finally reappeared in 2019, but only in the form of a cancellation – which occurred after a “pause”, so it was probably dead for some time. Break awayThe development team was Affected by a layoff later this year – and this happened during the massive Electronic Entertainment Expo, no less, maybe in an attempt to bury the news under a series of brand new games.
crucible was the second of three games revealed during TwitchCon 2016, while the other – the medieval MMO New world– apparently still marching towards a possible retail launch – which was originally planned for this month, but has since done so slipped until August 2020. If you keep score this is separate from that Lord of the rings-themed MMO, which AGS develops together with the Hong Kong studio Leyou Technologies. There was also the start of 2019 great tour-themed racing game based on the Amazon Video TV series of the same name, but our car racing guru Jonathan Gitlin has decided not to stack up on it disappointing reviews.
crucible: Yes, it’s an action MOBA
Since then, AGS has decided to rename its Seattle space crucible Game Studio as Relentless Studios, and the developer confirmed in an interview with Ars Technica that he postponed the start of his game from March to this week, largely due to complications in moving the studio to a work-from-home -Environment is attributable. (Amazon was among the earliest American technology companies to move non-distributors to a remote work place because Seattle played a pivotal role in the American COVID 19 outbreak.)
Even though crucible was originally teased as a Battle Royale-like game in 2016 and has since developed into a surprising genre in 2020: the “Action-MOBA”. It is loudly similar to Games-as-a-Service preferences Paragon (launched by Epic in 2016, then canceled in 2018) and Battleborn (launched by Gearbox in 2016, then set to “End of Life” in 2020). Although the goals are different, two teams of “hero” characters compete against each other on a battlefield, where they have to set goals and collect “experience points” to level up and become stronger. These points can be earned either by killing opponents or by destroying weaker, computer-controlled enemies (“creeps”) on the battlefield.
In short, action MOBA games translate strategic fighting from Dota 2 and League of Legends to a boot-on-the-ground perspective, emphasizing more precise, targeted battles. Where crucible The main difference from the others is to sting the predictable elements of other MOBAs, including regular spawning of creep and target points defined in some modes. That means you cannot jump into a match and necessarily plan your matches based on known “upper, middle and lower” lanes.
Our mission crucible The test earlier this month included the same content that was released completely free this week: 10 hero characters, all available for free, and three online combat modes. Like many other popular free online shooters, crucibleThe current money model revolves around cosmetics that players can either buy à la carte or unlock via a paid “Battle Pass” system.
Over / under on Overwatch?
In our two-hour test phase, the thriving online player population and repeated encounters that we would need to check a game of this kind were missing. It would be daring for me to offer one Dota 2 Check this out after just two hours of play, for example, as strategies and gameplay evolve and you better understand how each character combination could develop.
But this assessment alone should also provide information about what to expect. Unlike a free-to-play shooter like Apex Legendswho immediately impressed during his starting week thanks to speed, mechanical depth and satisfactory fight, crucible ends up being a more methodical and less exciting free-to-play option. For example, you can see the colorful cast and compare these characters to Blizzard’s Overwatch, whose cast shines with unmistakable, tough superpowers. crucible doesn’t quite have this. The effects of weapons, lasers, and traps on audio-visual and damage feel fairly weak – an intentional measure to increase the Time to Kill metric and therefore require more teamwork to take out enemies. And characters aren’t endowed with “ultimate” superpowers that take just a few minutes to recharge in other games.
Relentless decided not to add the ultimate moves crucible because they were concerned, such forces would destroy the balance of the game’s optional Battle Royale mode, in which eight teams of two compete against each other. But this is the mode for which press representatives have had the least time to try it, and in my only test, my duo – two of the standard machine gun carriers – chewed apparently unbalanced by the competition. The crazy boosts, speed-oriented moves and special buffs of other duos had no chance against boring, generic firepower.
Meanwhile, crucibleThe objective standard modes were difficult to understand during operation, which was partly due to a painfully generic standard arena. The low-poly fantasy forest world and its repetitive geometry and blue-green-purple aesthetics blurred in my two hours of play with little obvious orientation points. A few hours more with the game could contribute to this goal, but an action that MOBA lives and dies through the ability of the players to call landmarks and regroup accordingly – and that applies twice crucible. Damage and health spurts sometimes appear randomly on the map, and their team-wide effects can give a losing team a good reason to change strategies and move to another end of the map.
And that doesn’t even count the technical difficulties I faced in my test, especially an uncomfortable four-second delay each time I pressed a button to look at the game’s map overlay. If crucibleThe bugs will be fixed in time for tomorrow’s start. It remains to be seen.
We keep our fingers crossed that we are wrong
Although Relentless announced its plans to introduce regular content updates, including new heroes and modes, over time, its statements about the game were somewhat lacking to convince key points about how special or striking this game is. The heroes are in a pretty good mood and their skills – teleport, become invisible, put down damage waves, blind enemies, etc., etc. – happen to feel torn out of solid games that have previously taken place. A kind of conspiracy hovers over all of these fights, but nothing in the single arena I fought in, or the voiced chatter shared between characters during a game, gripped me with a sense of unity.
I would love So that this article ages badly, because I got a glimpse of Relentless ‘A unified four-person squad will have some strategic options if they romp around for 15 minutes crucible I am a fan of this strategic depth, coupled with an optimized, action-oriented variant of standard MOBAs. The team also has interesting ideas about “damage over time” as a constant factor: almost every time you take damage, you get a short window to contain the bleeding (or a clear “only five seconds to take” one) beat last time and wait for a respawn).
However, this kind of good news requires commitment from AGS – to continue supporting this game as players discover, share, and provide their feedback. And if massive, established studios like Epic and Gearbox couldn’t her With Action MOBA trials, I have to ask myself how AGS’s lower track record will hold up in comparison.