Crash Team Rumble beta: a promising premise that disappoints
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Featured Image Credit: Activision
Crash Team Rumble isn’t the fifth mainline instalment in the series that fans were hoping for, but it does provide for an entertaining dose of Crash-centric fun, albeit in very short stints. Created by Toys for Bob, Crash Team Rumble has just held its first beta period - offering select players the opportunity to sample three of the game’s maps in addition to getting to grips with the general feel of the gameplay. What I can say is that Crash Team Rumble is incredibly easy to pick up. It’s main flaw, though, is it’s incredibly easy to put back down too.
In the game, you’ll enter into a 4v4 battle where essentially, you’ll need to become the first team to collect 2,000 Wumpa fruits - dropping those off in your dedicated bank. There are three different roles you can play as: Scorers, Blockers, or Boosters. Each character is assigned a class so Crash is a Scorer, Dingodile is a Blocker, and Coco is a Booster. As you progress your skills, you’ll acquire extra characters to play as. Scorers focus on collecting Wumpa, Blockers attempt to sabotage and stop the other team, while Boosters focus on acquiring and claiming relics and gems that trigger team-wide power-ups.
Take a look at Crash Team Rumble in action below.
Before you begin, there’s a very helpful tutorial taking you through the basics before you’re then launched into a practice round against bots. This I was a fan of, seeing as there’s little I hate more than being dropped into a live-service game with no idea what to do. Thanks to the tutorial, it doesn’t take long to get the gist of Crash Team Rumble. Then again, the game is worryingly simple. What concerns me is that regardless of which class you play as, essentially all characters have the same ‘access’ to the map. Anyone can collect Wumpa, anyone can attack the opposition, and anyone can collect and activate boosting power-ups which essentially defeats the purpose of the three classes.
This soon became an issue. In one round, my mixed-class team entirely focused on blocking to the point where no one actually banked any Wumpa leading to an easy win for the opposition. In another instance, I realised we’d gone the entirety of the round without claiming any power-up gems despite having Boosters on our team. As there’s no regulation with regards to sticking to your role, it can make what is already a simple game even simpler. Racing to collect 2,000 Wumpa can be fun when you’re also contending with Blockers and Boosters. If it’s only a simple 4v4 Wumpa collecting race with the other roles ignored, the game falls flat.
When players stray from their roles, it can also kill scoring momentum. If all of your teammates decide to Blocker-style attack the competition and the other team gets a 600 Wumpa lead on you, there’s no way you’re coming back from that whereas in the games I played where people stuck more closely to their roles, it’s easily doable. I guess that’s kind of the point. Teamwork leads to success - it’s common sense really - and yet I played several matches where either my team or the opposition had doomed our chances within the opening few minutes.
The beta provided access to three of the game’s maps with plenty more promised at launch, alongside extra characters to play as, booster activations and more. Each of the three maps were well-designed and easy to traverse even if, again, they are a little simple. Crash Team Rumble very much continues Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time’s art style so if you like that, you’re in for more of the same.
There’s also a battle pass granting you the usual cosmetic options. I did notice that this filled incredibly slowly and considering this was a beta, I was only on the opening levels. I’d have expected it to climb a little more quickly to begin with. I dread to think how long it would actually take you to reach the end.
Despite these issues, Crash Team Rumble is undeniably fun at its core. Eventually, I think that players will come to understand that, actually, utilising the full breadth of the gameplay classes leads to better matches, but I also don’t think it’s a bad idea to block Blockers from being able to collect Wumpa for example, or lowering the number of Wumpa a Booster can carry (You’re capped at 120 before you have to drop them off in your bank). Simple tweaks like this could hugely help solidify that role system.
My main fear with regards to Crash Team Rumble is that it feels like it was designed to be free-to-play. Crash Team Rumble is fun in short doses but I’m not convinced there’s longevity there - not with the £34.99 price tag attached anyway. I wonder if Crash Team Rumble will be able to build a solid enough fanbase at that cost. While the game may be fun, it is repetitive. The full launch game will need to offer a few extra bells and whistles to convince players that it’s worth purchasing. That could be too tall of an order from what I’ve seen.