In today’s game market innovation is key. With the wide variety of developers, nearly every major genre is being flooded with titles from indie to AAA studios. And MMORPGs are no exception. In an attempt to differentiate itself, Crush Online combines MOBA gameplay with a persistent PvP world.
Taking two popular genres and melding them together often has positive results. Look at nearly any multiplayer shooter; RPG mechanics are now core with leveling and progression systems. However, not every combination works out so successfully. Crush Online happens to be one of those games that doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Not a Great Start
Upon logging into Crush Online, players are asked to select a channel. Unlike servers, players can switch between channels while in the game. This means that everyone is essentially on the same server but there are different instances per zone. Having everyone on a world isn’t necessarily a bad things for a PvP focused game, but it does create its own set of problems.
After selecting your channel, it’s time for character creation. By character creation, I mean it lets you decide which gender-locked class you’d like to play. Of course the support character is the only female, while the DPS and Tank classes are males. If that wasn’t bad enough, there are only 18 unique combinations for customization total (not counting color), as only the face and hair make any real difference.
During the character creation process, players are also required to choose one of three factions: Arslan, Erion or Armia. The only real difference between the three are the crest designs and a two-sentence description about their struggle to power. Even the starting zones and quests are the same.
I do appreciate the three-faction design and wish that more games would adopt it instead of the standard two. As of writing this, each faction appears to be decently balanced, or at least putting up a fight, on each of the different channels. Multiple factions usually helps balance PvP instead of allowing one side to dominate a single server.
An Awkward Design
Typically, MOBAs and MMOs are not something that go well together. In its essence, a MOBA is meant for instanced arena combat and not a persistent world. Instead of getting the feeling of fierce competition from a MOBA, or meaningful progression from an MMORPG, what Crush Online delivers is a watered-down action RPG experience.
Basically, most MOBAs already rely on standard ARPG combat mechanics. They’re click to move, or WASD, and usually allow the player to have access to a set number of skills, but as players level up they gain access to a plethora of choices.
Not in Crush Online. Instead, the game decided to borrow a bit too much from the MOBA side. Instead of earning skills as you level up, they’re locked to each weapon. Players can equip two weapons at once, so this means eight skills total but there’s no progression or choice. Currently, there are only a handful of weapons available for each class and the skills can’t be mixed and matched. It also appears that weapons can only be crafted, as I didn’t obtain any while questing and there are none on the auction house.
Too Much MOBA
I really like MOBAs; it’s one of my favorite genres, but Crush Online has put too much of them into its MMO. From the aesthetic design to the map-based PvP, it feels way too much like a persistent version of League of Legends without the interesting character designs or balanced gameplay.
Instead of having any sort of meaningful progression system, Crush Online has resorted to copying the League of Legends mastery design. This means that as you level up, you unlock amazing perks like +3 damage or +2% critical damage.
Perks like this work in MOBAs because you’re only trying to tweak your gameplay in one direction or another, and all players start out on an even playing field during each match. However, in an MMO such small stats don’t make a difference when higher level, or better geared, players are easily killing you.
There’s also this incredibly awkward SP system that’s supposed to act as a way to level for each zone. As you kill monsters you can upgrade your equipment, but once you leave an area you lose your SP. This reinforces two rather bad scenarios. First, it allows players to easily snowball out of control. Second, it rewards players for not attacking other areas. Basically, players are encourage to farm a ton of SP in a single area and then wait to slaughter any unfortunate enemies that might come by.
Crush Online also isn’t a true MMO. It’s broken up into a series of very small instance. This goes for both PvE and PvP. The PvP zones act like a pseudo MOBA battleground without allowing for nearly as much strategy. Random monsters will spawn that players can farm and there are a couple of elite enemies that players can recruit to their cause. Other than that, it’s just a handful of randomly placed towers and a “Nexus.” Once a team’s Nexus is destroyed, they lose control.
Player levels and gear also play a huge role in balance. Having numbers doesn’t seem to matter as a few slightly higher level players can steamroll a horde of low to mid-level characters. The trailer makes the PvP look exciting when there are teams of 15+ players on evenly matched teams. Unfortunately, the reality is either a train of players zerging the most vulnerable areas or a handful of powerful, high-level characters massacring a bunch of newbies.
While Crush Online attempts to do a lot of things, it doesn’t do any of them particularly well. Combat overall is rather clunky, unresponsive and feels outdated. The PvE zones are bland looking and the PvP combat is repetitive. Given the choice, I’d rather play an actual MMORPG when it comes to PvE or a true MOBA for PvP.
When it comes to grindy, PvE combat MOBA combat mechanics simply don’t translate in a fun way. Using the same four skills, and an auto attack, to kill the same monsters over and over becomes stale within the first few levels. There simply isn’t enough depth to the combat to create a rewarding PvE experience.
The mixture of the two worlds doesn’t mesh very well and it makes me wonder what the point of the PvE section even is. As far as I can tell, it’s simply to grind to a high enough level to be able to compete in PvP, which is the main draw of the game. Therefore, it seems like the game would benefit if there was no character leveling or progression that instead came from PvP.
I have to give points to Crush Online for at least attempting something different, but it just doesn’t deliver enough on any of the fronts. While there are a lot of MOBAs and MMOs around, there aren’t a lot with such a major focus on open-world PvP. It’s simply too bad that the game didn’t have better design choices.
Despite the competitive, PvP nature of the game, most of the other players in the game were relatively friendly. This could have something to do with the rather small community during the game’s launch or the fact that players can only communicate within their nations, which minimizes trash talk.
Guilds, which are called Legions, play a major role in the game. Joining one is the only way to gain Fame and take part in the PvP leaderboards. Furthermore, Legions can create fortresses or provide benefits to zones they control. Unfortunately, there’s also no easy way to join a Legion. Either you have to create one, which is rather expensive for a new player, or you need to spam the chat channel until someone invites you.
Reminiscent of the League of Legends graphics before the recent visual update, Crush Online isn’t particularly pretty. There’s a lot of bland, open space that’s covered with generic tile sets. There’s really nothing unique looking and the isometric style isn’t even put to its full potential.
As far as sound goes, there only appear to be a few tracks that loop after a couple of minutes. Again, the tracks are so generic that you’ll either forget they’re playing in the background or turn them off completely.
Value for Money 6/10
Currently, Crush Online is free-to-play, but it does include microtransactions. Oddly enough, they’re actually difficult to find and the game doesn’t spam you with ads like many F2P titles. In order to purchase currency, players are required to go to the game’s website and buy it there.
There’s nothing wrong with selling premium currency, but it’s what players can do with it. On first glance, players can only buy costumes, VIP status, and some guild items directly through the shop. However, on closer inspection, players can also sell in-game items for premium currency. That means that players can literally buy power directly with money.
Overall 4 /10
-Major focus on PvP
-Competitive zone warfare
-Attempted something new
-Gameplay balance issues
Related: Crush Online, MMORPG, MOBA, PvP, Review, Steam