Besides rethinking its approach to entertainment, Microsoft’s change in leadership brought about a renaissance in exclusive games. Xbox head Phil Spencer has been on a tear, breathing life into old franchises when possible and locking down exclusives on games that the company doesn’t make itself. That there’s a Crackdown 3 release at all seems like a small miracle.
The original Crackdown was a third-person shooting and action game that had the look of a comic book and a broad sandbox. Players could do almost anything they wanted by gathering orbs and improving their character overtime. For Crackdown 2, developer Ruffian Games layered on more. The studio took players back to Pacific City, but added layers on top of the original experience. There were more orbs, more guns, more options and a new deadly enemy roaming the streets.
The Crackdown 3 release is surprising in that it’s actually happening. Critical opinions on Crackdown 2 were mixed. Here’s what we know about Crackdown 3 thus far.
The Crackdown 3 Release Window
The Crackdown 3 release, is about as mysterious a thing as Microsoft has done in the last few years. The company confirmed the game way back in 2014. Its teams didn’t discuss the game again at any major forum until last year’s Gamescom and Electronic Entertain Expo trade shows.
The game will consist of at least two modes, a story mode and an online multiplayer that’ll require Xbox Live to work. There’s some speculation that these two halves won’t actually launch as a whole game, but ship separately.
Talking to video game website IGN, developers working on the game confirmed that the multiplayer portion of the Crackdown 3 release is set for sometime in the second or third quarter of 2016. The company’s clarification on that launch detail is why there’s so much speculation about how it’ll be delivered. Typically, video games are offered up in one complete package. After release, they’re updated with new fixes and content packs. Microsoft might be trying something different here.
The whole situation is a bit confusing since the Microsoft Store is offering Crackdown 3 pre-orders for $59.99 now.
Crackdown 3 and Xbox Live Cloud Compute
The Crackdown 3 release is uncharted territory for Microsoft in some other ways beyond its delivery. During its Xbox Revealed event, Microsoft asserted that Xbox Live Cloud Compute, a series of servers around the world, would allow developers to build worlds that would have previously been too resource intensive for a single Xbox One to handle. Later on, Microsoft confirmed that Xbox Live Cloud Compute was the same as its Azure platform.
Other games have used Xbox Live Cloud Compute to offload small things in their experience. Forza has used the service to allow a player’s Drivatar to race against their friends when they aren’t available. Titanfall, a game launched exclusively on Xbox One, used the services to power the auto-pilot of user’s robots and more.
Crackdown 3 will use cloud computing power to enhance the player’s feeling of being a superhero. Developers Reagent and Cloudgine are using the extra power the service provides to make the multiplayer environment in the game fully destructible. From office buildings to skyscrapers, players can take out a support beam and watch as buildings collapse in on themselves. The game takes physics into account too, connecting to Xbox Live to make sure that a building falls as it would in real-life.
The game’s campaign experience, won’t include fully destructible worlds, but will let players pulverize the landscape to some degree.
Crackdown 3: Story & Mechanics
As for setting and mechanics, Microsoft has confirmed some things. The skill system previous games used to let players enhance their character are coming back. Agility, Strength, Explosives, Firearms and Driving are all confirmed as appearing as Skills in Crackdown 3 by the official Crackdown website.
Microsoft says in a post on its Xbox Wire blog that the things folks liked about the series aren’t changing. The game still features super-powered agents patrolling a huge city in the name of stopping crime. Upgrades include a city that’s bigger and more vibrant than in previous versions. Buildings are taller than they were before, giving gamers more vertical play space and reasons to climb. On the narrative, the company plans for the game to have “more actual story” this time around. Dave Jones, creator of the original game, is acting as Crackdown 3’s director. Co-operative play will make a return too.
Crackdown 3: When We’ll Know More
Even still, Microsoft maintains that it plans to launch at least the multiplayer portion of Crackdown 3 in 2016. With the year nearly halfway over, we should hear something concrete about the Crackdown 3 release date soon.
Presumably, the company will use its Electronic Entertainment Expo briefing to talk about Crackdown 3 in more detail. The company’s briefing is on June 13th.