During today’s Xbox event, Remedy Entertainment revealed the single-player campaign for CrossfireX, the next instalment of a long-running multiplayer franchise developed by Smilegate Entertainment. Later, I sat in on a preview of a single mission, which lasted around 15 minutes. Even with the folks behind Alan Wake and Control at the helm, I didn’t see anything that made this Xbox-exclusive military shooter different from every other military shooter of the last several years.
CrossfireX’s single-player campaign tells the story of warring private military contractors Global Risk and Black List. In a private demo shown to media, the former is in pursuit of protagonist Luis Torres, while the latter is attempting to protect him. The skirmish plays out through the abandoned buildings and streets of a fictional South American city that has been evacuated due to an impending hurricane. Luis used a limited mechanic called “Combat Breaker” to slow time and line up shots, and also shot environmental hazards like an electrical box to get an edge on enemies. We were also introduced to several members of Black List, many of whom went out of their way to save Luis’ butt over the course of the presentation in various cutscenes.
“We’re trying to convey that sense of camaraderie of a finely tuned special operations team heading into battle and showing you some of the chaos that happens behind enemy lines in this unique cinematic experience,” Remedy’s communication director Thomas Puha explained.
The story of CrossfireX will be told across multiple “operations,” which in turn are split into smaller “episodes.” Puha said Remedy plans to have two operations available at launch, each of which should take around three hours to complete. The developers were coy about future plans, but did hint at the existence of a battle pass system through which players will access additional operations.
If you’re familiar with modern military shooters, you know exactly what you’re going to get with CrossfireX. Guns were plentiful in my brief look at the game, strewn about like some sort of second amendment wet dream. Characters exchanged witty banter between clearly marked objectives. Big dudes shot big guns and created big explosions. A lengthy vehicle chase sequence gave the player a chance to mow down dozens of faceless enemies with infinite ammo. At the end of the demo, the ostensible “good guys” demolished what looked like an important freeway tunnel out of town and drove over a cliff into the ocean. It was loud and intense but felt devoid of substance.
I don’t look to Remedy for massive, destructive set pieces, but rather world-building that adds some humanity to extraordinary situations. And while it’s clear the studio has done its best to piece together a universe for a franchise that has focused exclusively on multiplayer for over 10 years, very little of Remedy’s pedigree came through in the CrossfireX demo. Nothing I saw can’t be found in the countless military shooters already on the market. I guess we know gaming’s fascination with war will carry over into the next console generation, at least.