Crossfire, a tactical FPS from Korea, is the second-largest game in the world in terms of player count with an astonishing 1 billion players. For those following, 1 in 3 gamers and approximately 1 in 8 people around the world have played the game. It has inspired a television series, a forthcoming movie, even a mobile RTS game. Yet, in the west, the game’s popularity is significantly lower. CrossfireX, a console conversion of sorts, by Smilegate Entertainment, hopes to fix this. However, after years of silence and delays, can it possibly, live up to the hype? Let’s find out, in XboxEra’s official review for CrossfireX’s multiplayer.
The Short Answer is No…
The long answer is absolutely f**king not. CrossfireX is the rare game where its issues are glowingly apparent from the main menu. After scrolling through a EULA the size of War and Peace, you are greeted to the menu selection screen, a glitchy, difficult-to-navigate mess. Between dropped frames, a distracting rain effect and a cursor the size of the tip of a needle tip (Don’t worry 120inch OLED users, yours will be the size of a canned pea!), the simple act of choosing a mode is in and of itself a nightmare. Once you do navigate this first hurdle, you’ll find options for Classic and Modern multiplayer, as well as for the “Operation: Catalyst” and “Operation: Spectre” campaigns (more on those in our campaign review).
Beginning with the Modern playlist, you’ll be greeted with 3 game modes. Wait, sorry? Did I say 3? I meant 2. A third one, “Escort on Babylon”, can be found greyed out with a big “Coming Soon” posted on top of it. Any web designer can tell you why this is a massive no-no, but that’s no matter. The other two modes are “Search and Destroy on Black Widow” and “Point Capture on GR Tower”. The first of these modes is similar to a match of Counterstrike or Valorant, the latter closer in line with a Battlefield map. Although using these two games in the same sentence is unfair, as this is the Dollar Tree brand version of those superior titles.
Both modes, to their credit, feature well-designed maps, and graphically are sound, utilizing Quixel Megascans. This is where the praise ends. From the unacceptable level of input lag making playing the game a challenge to the frankly awful aiming and gunplay, this experience is not fun. Made worse is the sheer amount of bugs and glitches. Inability to slide when the ability purchased, being kicked out of aiming down the sights, enemy and allied units looking like they came straight out of “Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse” by running at 15fps (consistently on quality mode, still a significant percentage of the time on performance mode). These are just a few of the issues my friend and I encountered playing. Couple this with sound effects that carry all the oomph of a pie to the face, a nonsense unbalanced progression system on search and destroy that allows certain unit types to dominate and severe UI issues and it just is not fun. Also of note, each mode maintains Counterstrike’s signature low TTK, so thank your lucky stars crossplay is not active for this title (a westernized PC release of “X” doesn’t even exist.
But Wait… It Gets Worse
What I didn’t tell you is that the modern playlist is the closest CrossfireX gets to enjoyable. It gets so, so, so much worse. The classic playlist differs from the modern one in two key ways: you can no longer aim down the sights, and dashing is turned off. While not a dealbreaker normally (Quake and Halo’s classic Multiplayer is as fun as ever), this playlist only accentuates the problems with CrossfireX’s gameplay. There are 4 modes available here. The first, “Search and Destroy on Black Widow” is the exact same as the modern mode, except for the aforementioned changes. It wasn’t great there, it’s worse here.
The second, “Spectre on Laboratory”, features two teams of 8 facing in a battle. One side is invisible except when moving (think Elites in Halo) and has to plant a bomb and pick off the enemy using knives. The other half are fully equipped soldiers. You have 2 minutes per round, first to 5 wins. Of course, Crossfire’s melee combat is inaccurate and brutally hard to pull off, and one shot in the vicinity of the head leads to an instant kill. So this mode is more a challenge of who gets 5 rounds as the soldiers first. Even the map here leaves something to be desired.
“Team Deathmatch on Transport Ship” is exactly what it sounds like. It’s Team Deathmatch, on a generic-looking ship that is oddly graphically worse than all the other maps by a significant margin. First to 100 kills wins. It isn’t fun, but at least with the low TTK, it goes mercifully fast.
Don’t worry, I’ve saved the worst for last. “Nano on Babylon Lab” is a clone of Halo’s infection mode. Except, somehow, they took one of Halo’s most fun modes and completely screwed it up here. 27 players are tasked with hunting 3 strong “Infected Nano Infectors” (yes, that’s what they’re called) who are tasked with infecting the lot. If all players are infected, “Black List” wins. If at least one remains, “Global Risk” wins. It makes no difference, as there is no incentive to win. The infectors themselves are as easy to control as a drunken Sonic the Hedgehog on ice skates, and if an infector and soldier collude, they can easily make it impossible to reach soldiers. The map itself also features disastrous “platforming” sections which are difficult to navigate as a soldier, and nearly impossible as an infector, especially since a shot to them mid-air will cause them to freeze up and fall.
For the Cherry on Top of the Sundae…
Once you move away from the main menu, there is one final “gift” CrossfireX has waiting for you. It is monetized to the depths of hades and back, and it’s not all cosmetics. Weapon varieties are locked behind a paywall (many can thankfully be earned through minor amounts of grinding), gacha mechanics lead to new perks every day, a Battle Pass exists to unlock not just cosmetics but even a shotgun. Yes, a shotgun, a basic weapon type in almost any game, is locked behind the Battle Pass (thankfully free, but still, it’s the principle).
You may note that I did not review the campaign. This is on purpose, as to date, CrossfireX’s first half of the campaign is still MIA in Game Pass despite a promised day one release. I did play the latter half, Operation Spectre, to completion, and my impressions are significantly more positive than the multiplayer, but until they fix this bug, the review for the latter half will have to wait.
Caught in the Crossfire
After several hours with the game, one thing shined above all else: a lack of priority. I am not one to haul out the “lazy dev” complaints. They are 99.999% of the time completely unjustified, unfair and insulting. However, what I am never afraid to call out is the sheer laziness of upper management. Looking to how well Smilegate’s other release (in the same week no less) Lost Ark is doing, I could see a reality in which CrossfireX was a sizeable hit. You don’t reach 1 billion players by being a bad game. But what was clear here was a lack of priority on almost all sides. Remedy’s campaign (which again, please consult our review) is super short. Smilegate’s multiplayer was rushed out and is missing key modes. Microsoft’s marketing slowed to a crawl.
The old adage is that you need to spend money to make money, and with the backing of 3 industry juggernauts and an IP beloved by a literal billion players, this should have been great. This could have been a disruptive, exciting introduction to a well-loved IP that showed the west exactly what they were missing. It could have given the CoDs and Counter Strikes of the world a run for its money. But what we got wasn’t just disappointing, it’s also just flat-out bad.
Played on an Xbox Series X. CrossfireX released on February 10th, 2022