After the CrossfireX campaign trailer debuted in the Xbox Games Showcase, I got to sit down with Remedy’s Head of Communications, Thomas Puha as well as Executive Producer, Tuukka Taipalvesi behind closed doors to watch a lengthy gameplay demo and have a quick chat about the game.
I wasn’t too familiar with CrossFire (outside of last year’s E3 reveal) but I now know that it’s one of the largest FPS games in Asia and has been since it released in 2007 by Smilegate and Tencent. The Xbox exclusive version of the game that is releasing this year (on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X) is split into two parts: the multiplayer is being handled by the original developer, Smilegate, but the single-player campaign is being created by Remedy, who are known for their work on games such as Control, Alan Wake and Quantum Break.
The game’s campaign has been in the works for five years with the collaboration between Remedy and Smilegate coming together in what was described as both studios bringing their best together to create something totally unique. Taipalvesi describes it an “industry happy story where Smilegate sought us out. They needed a partner to collaborate with to build single-player stories for CrossFire as well as some world-building for the CrossFire universe”. He continued by saying that “Remedy has had quite a lot of freedom within the IP. It’s our first time working in someone else’s sandbox, but it has been a happy place for us to be in. With them seeking us out to work on a game, our area of expertise has been understood and we’ve been left to do what we do best”.
The game is running on Remedy’s Northlight Engine and with this being their first venture into a first-person game, Tailpalvesi says that “we got first-person controls up and running really quickly, but the most important thing is the movement and what you see on screen as well as shooting and shooting mechanics”. Puha followed this up by saying that that the bar in first-person shooter games is “pretty damn high” and spoke about the fact that the biggest challenge was telling “a meaningful story in a first-person shooter game”.
The episodic campaign will begin to be released in 2020, with it being split into operations and then episodes within those operations.
The live demo that I got to watch the team play through was running on an Xbox One X and followed an operation from the Black List side of the story (the campaign will also feature missions from the Global Risk faction). Launching into the demo, playing as Luis Tores, who is a skilled thief and a civilian, it’s clear that despite this being a FPS, it’s going to focus a lot on story-telling, with the demo opening up with a lengthy cutscene, with many compelling characters introduced throughout.
This particular mission takes place in a small South American town. The art in-game was immediately different to that of the trailer, with it featuring that signature Remedy blurred, stylised filter that instantly sets a certain mood. The UI elements were immediately noticeable as being similar to Control with the simplistic, yet extremely effective yellow UI elements making their way over. Remedy’s Communty Manager referred to the campaign as a “James Bond style epic” and that was immediately apparent too. Like any good FPS campaign, the mission was full of set pieces and brutal takedowns from start to finish.
The gunplay looked to be up there with the likes of Call Of Duty, with the demoist moving in and out of cover. The demo was made up of both corridor like areas, but then also more open buildings, so cover was obviously essential. What makes CrossfireX different (and what I suspect will appeal to a lot of people) are the special powers (called combat breakers), which aren’t too dissimilar to those that we saw in the likes of Max Payne, Control or Quantum Break. You’re able to slow down time, which obviously makes enemies easier to pick off, and no doubt there will be other special abilities along the way.
The second part of the mission takes place underground after Luis gets blown out of a building. Taking control of the shotgun, I got an even better look at how effective that slowdown combat breaker is up close, with every bullet particle being blown out of the gun in real-time right in front of me. The demo ends with another epic set piece, with Luis in the back of a van, rocket launcher in hand, tasked with taking out several Black List members. The mission ends on a major cliffhanger, which I obviously want to know the conclusion to, so colour me intrigued.
Control and Alan Wake are two of my favourite games of all time and I’m a sucker for a great first-person shooter campaign, so I feel like this is a match made in heaven. Watching a playthrough of a lengthy mission, I’m quite amazed with just how much Remedy’s signature style shines through considering it’s a first-person shooter game. This could very well be the Xbox Series X’s killer game come this holiday season and it looks like it’ll be another Remedy story that needs to be played through.
CrossfireX releases on Xbox One and Xbox Series X in Holiday 2020.