The Gaming Nexus gang once again hopped into a closed beta this weekend, this time taking on the new 4v4 competitive game Crash Team Rumble. As usual, we walked in with all the confidence in the world, and were met with the unpleasant reality that people had been playing this beta all weekend long, and there were organized teams laying in wait to smoke us like cigarillos.
Crash Team Rumble - at least what we've seen of it - is a fantastic online competitive game; quick, easy to learn, and fun. It is also very, very unique. Some of us were expecting Smash Bros with Crash characters, others were expecting some sort of cartoonish first person shooter. The reality is much different; the developers at Toys for Bob have actually created something new here. As much as I sit here and think on it, I can't come up with a comparison. This isn't a clone of...anything.
Teams of four hop into small arenas. The object of the game is to gather Wampa fruit and take them to your team's bank. The first team to 2000 Wampa fruit wins the game. But there are enough distractions to make that more difficult than it sound - this isn't just a race. Any of the game's characters can pick up and carry Wampa fruit, but they are each tuned to be good at a specific job. Scorers - like Crash himself - are made to do just that, turn in Wampa and rack up huge scores. Boosters are there to add boosts to your team, which is accomplished by jumping on a series of gems and holding them for a specific amount of time, which will add a multiplier to your fruit when you turn it in. And then there are characters that are just there to harass the other team, blocking them, knocking fruit out of their hands, and generally starting a ruckus.
This combination of characters and goals leads to some really fun spontaneous battles, with entire teams of four turning a bank or a boost point into an impromptu game of capture the flag. It's wildly fun, and if you aren't playing with four adults that swear nonstop, the whole game is cartoonish and absolutely kid appropriate. But there is a depth to this structure that belies the simplistic set-up, as we soon found out:
Our entire session is here. Watch what happens to us in the second match.
I had played by myself a few times over the weekend and had been pretty successful in pick-up games with randos. But what we didn't realize was that by entering the game with a team of four, we would be matched with other teams of four. Teams that might have been playing all weekend. Teams that had strategies. Teams that were clearly used to mopping the floor with a bunch of level 1 players coming into a new game with a surplus of unearned confidence.
But Jason, Joseph, Elliot and I learned our lesson the hard way. There is a lot to learn about each character type and how best to play them, and the team dynamics need to be taken seriously to have any sort of success. We were eventually able to squeak out a few wins, but they were definitely hard fought, and by no means a sure thing. More than once, a skilled team would let us get ahead, just to lock us down and pull ahead from behind with ease while we sputtered and swore.
The bottom line is that Crash Team Rumble has a lot of room to develop into a serious - and seriously fun - competitive multiplayer game. It has unexpected depth, and each character type - while easy to pick up - has nuance that can help a team ascent from "gang of idiots" to "killing squad". The lesson has been learned: take other players seriously in Crash Team Rumble, or Crash Team Rumble will smack the jokes right out of your mouth.
We're looking forward to digging deeper into Crash Team Rumble when the game releases on June 20 for PlayStation and Xbox consoles.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories. I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 to my headset collection. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, PS5, PS4, PSVR, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host Spielberg Chronologically, where we review every Spielberg film in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.
Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here.View Profile