It might be premature seeing as E3 is around the corner and we’re bound to see more of it over the coming days, but Crackdown 3, a title that is seemingly set to be the Xbox One X game to own this November, still seems strangely lacking as a full package, especially as a game set for release in only a few months after having been in development for years.
I’ve always seen Crackdown as an under-appreciated franchise by both Microsoft and gamers, which is strange because open-world action games that offer as much freedom as Crackdown does tend to be wildly popular. It doesn’t help that Crackdown 3 seems to have made little progress since it was first announced at E3 2014 and revealed at Gamescom a whole year later. It’s also bizarre that Microsoft decided to spend 15 minutes talking about Sea Of Thieves — which we’ve seen plenty of — and even got someone out to talk about Minecraft, but the second-biggest Xbox exclusive on the horizon behind Forza 7 got nothing more than a bombastic trailer with Terry Crews.
For what it’s worth, I liked (but not loved) the Xbox briefing today, and there was a really nice combination of timed exclusives, gameplay demonstrations and indie showcases. However I came away bewildered as to why Crackdown 3 wasn’t more front and centre, as it seemed like the perfect opportunity to showcase it, particularly considering the lack of Halo and Gears of War. Admittedly, Crackdown is way down the line when it comes to Xbox exclusive interest — probably even below State of Decay — but I still find it weird that a game perceived to be AAA was so casually brushed aside as it was, so close to release, just as it has been since it was first announced.
To be frank, I’ve had concerns about Crackdown 3 — probably my most anticipated Xbox game as it stands — since seeing it at Gamescom 2015. I was anticipating a hands-on session with some open-world shenanigans, collecting orbs and building up my Agent. Instead I was presented with a 20-minute demo about destruction and the “power of the cloud”, a message Xbox has since dropped and hasn’t muttered for a while. Destruction is cool, and thinking of the core Crackdown experience and how it might enhance the offering is certainly something I can appreciate. But the reason people played and loved Crackdown was because of the freedom it offered from an evolutionary standpoint, inviting an addicting and rewarding sense of upgrades and power that was — at the time — quite unique.
What we’ve seen of Crackdown 3 so far — including today’s trailer — hits home a vision of generic action game, not “definitive Xbox One exclusive” that is “best on Xbox One X” (although in Microsoft’s defense, neither of these terms were muttered about Crackdown 3). I could understand if it was just announced and revealed, but this is a game that is more than three years in the making, and still all we got was this trailer.
Press will get to see Crackdown 3 this week — and I suspect some of the public lucky enough to go to E3 will as well — but I find it strange and a little concerning that it wasn’t part of the showcase to demonstrate Xbox One X’s power. That third party games like Anthem and Assassin’s Creed: Origins got more of a showing than Crackdown suggests Microsoft either isn’t that confident, doesn’t have much to show, or simply values third-party exclusives more than its own lineup, which would be strange considering the press surrounding the Xbox brand’s lack in that department.
I’m genuinely hoping Crackdown 3 presents better during E3 — and that we’ll actually get to play it — because it’s a game that could really strengthen and celebrate what it is that makes Xbox One X a must-have.
Crackdown 3 launches November 7