First impressions of Amazon's premier game title, Crucible

Benjamin Levin, CNN Underscored
Fri May 22, 2020

Fans of team-based shooters, there's a new kid on the block: Crucible. Amazon's first game title mixes some fresh gameplay elements with many familiar ones. Did we mention it's free to play and available now? Well, we took a hands-on look at the game and wanted to share our initial thoughts.

An intro to Crucible

Crucible takes place on a far-off planet full of killer creatures, violent vegetation and seriously scenic surroundings. You'll choose one of 10 hunters, each with an arsenal of unique abilities. In a standard match, you'll face off in a four-versus-four against enemy hunters vying for control of this planet's garden. There's also a mode where eight teams of two battle it out to be the last pair standing. Throughout each match, you can also fight plants and animals, as well as interact with various tech, to gain precious "essence" to improve your character's abilities. You can also gain damage boosts, turn invisible and much more.

Every hunter plays differently, and about half are aliens. You can pick support characters, melee warriors and nimble gunners. Our personal favorite, though, is Earl, an interstellar trucker with a massive minigun. His role is to be a tank — to absorb tons of damage on the front line (though he can dish out a lot, too). Among the familiar gameplay elements is Overwatch, wherein a small team of elite and unique heroes go head to head in vibrant environments. Naturally, the battle royale-style mode with eight teams of two is more akin to Fortnite or Apex Legends. Plus, there's a healthy amount of humor and fourth-wall-breaking.

However, this is where the similarities end. The addition of essence, varied objectives throughout the match, and the ability to fight nonplayer creatures all really spice things up. It can be confusing when you're first dropped in, and the tutorial doesn't give you much info outside of the controls. This makes for an overwhelming experience for new players, but we're already getting the hang of it as we pop into more matches. Our advice: Stick to your teammates like glue.

Crucible also employs the popular battle pass system. As you fight in matches, gain experience and complete challenges, you'll level up and earn skins, voice lines, emotes and more. You can even deck out the drop pod that spawns you into the match. We were pleasantly surprised when we saw that, when you first pick up the game, it gives you enough credits to get the first pass for free. Hopefully as it continues to be updated, we'll see more features like in-game voice chat, a feature we've come to expect in games like this.

Hardware we suggest

If you're looking to get a headstart on your skills in Crucible, it can't hurt to reassess your gaming gear. There's a bunch of HyperX gaming gear on sale right now — you can read more about it here. But for now, we wanted to highlight a few of our favorites.

The HyperX Alloy FPS RGB Pudding Keycaps Edition ($89.99, originally $119.99; bestbuy.com) is a full mechanical keyboard. It features a steel frame decked out with dynamic RGB lights behind each key. These provide a lightshow right beneath your fingers, enhanced by the "pudding" keycaps, which better distribute the RGB lights via a semi-transparent layer on the lower half of each individual key that makes them look like layered pudding. Beneath every key is also a Kailh Silver Speed switch. This little mechanism reduces keypress travel time. And though this speed increase is usually marginal, its ultimate purpose is to make each input happen a little sooner.

The Razer Huntsman ($109.96, originally $149.99; amazon.com) is an equally beautiful mechanical keyboard, made of aluminum. Behind the keys is vibrant RGB backlighting, along with incredibly fast Razer Optical switches. These switches rely upon the interruption of a laser beneath each key for input rather than a physical switch. The result is superfast, reactive input. Plus, with Razer Hypershift, you can totally remap your keys to your liking, as well as create useful macros to automate otherwise complex commands.

The Alienware Elite Gaming Mouse ($79.28, originally $84.99; amazon.com) is an ergonomic mouse with an adjustable palm rest and two interchangeable side wings. You can even interchange several 5-gram weights inside — talk about customization. And with up to 11 programmable buttons, you can keep most of your controls right on your mouse.

The HyperX Pulsefire Core ($29.88; amazon.com) is a great mouse for a great price. It's light and versatile, featuring large mouse skates for easy gliding. It's also packed with seven programmable buttons, which should be more than enough to bind controls and get a leg up on your fellow gamers.

Even though there's no in-game voice chat, the HyperX Cloud Revolver S ($99.99, originally $149.99; amazon.com) will keep you in communication with your team. This headset features comfy memory foam cushioning for those longer sessions. And the built-in microphone is both noise-canceling and detachable. Last, but certainly not least, the Cloud Revolver S features Dolby Surround 7.1, which will keep you well aware of your surroundings.

The Samsung 32" Curved Gaming Monitor ($529.99, originally $599.99; amazon.com) is an epic monitor with a slightly concave screen for a better view. And you won't miss a single detail, thanks to the HDR QLED making darks darker and brights brighter. On top of stunning visuals, you'll enjoy a 144Hz refresh rate to keep your response time top-notch.

Overall, we've had a great time with Crucible so far. It brings in enough unique content to set it apart from others of its kind, and we're looking forward to giving it a full review, coming soon.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed prices at the time of publication.