Remember the car scene from 2015's Mad Max film? Actually, remember all the car scenes from Mad Max? Crossout, a vehicular-combat MMO by Gaijin Entertainment, meshes car upgrades and dynamic modes with the spirit of Mad Max's frenetic action sequences.
"The game was announced a year ago at E3 2015," Gaijin's PR manager Yulia Shveyko told me. "Since last year, we have changed the game a lot."
Crossout's premise is simple. Players inhabit a post-apocalyptic desert dotted with the usual vistas: burned-out factories, abandoned cities, scrap yards. To survive, you use in-game coins to deck out vehicles with cabins, wheels, weapons, and cosmetic implements, and shoot enemy cars until they erupt in a blaze of glory. PVP battles are the main selection on Crossout's menu, but lately, players have taken it upon themselves to barge into the kitchen and whip up mixtures of their own.
"Our players have come up with some crazy stuff," Shveyko said. "Not so long ago, some of them tried to modify PVP, the mode itself. They joined a basic PVP mode where you capture a base; nothing special. But they created huge, heavy vehicles with lots of guns so they couldn't move, and settled around the base and started working together to create a tower defense mode."
Off-the-cuff creativity is possible in Crossout thanks to the game's deep car creation system. Outside of matches, you can enter your garage and put coins toward new parts to create virtually any type of car you like. In Shveyko's example, a group of players got together and diverted resources into heavy cabins and weaponry, turning mobile cars into stationary turrets of the sort one would find in a tower defense game like Kingdom Rush.
Cabins, wheels, missile launchers, guns… Any part can be targeted to turn the tide of a match--custom or otherwise--in one team's favor. "The game features advanced damage models," Shveyko said. "You can shoot off any part of an enemy vehicle. You could shoot off all his wheels and leave him immobilized, or shoot off all his guns and leave him defenseless. A car that has already lost one wheel is alive as long as his cabin is okay. As soon as it's destroyed, he's dead. You could be lying upside down with no wheels left, but if you've got guns, you can shoot at anyone who comes around."
While Crossout centers on PVP, Gaijin recently added a PVE mode to give players more opportunities to earn currency and car parts by completing objectives like gathering fuel barrels and destroying targets. As in PVP modes, PVE's goals act as a foundation for players to build on. "One of the best PVE features we have is that players can create final bosses for battles," said Shveyko. The boss will be operated by artificial intellect, and if your boss creation wins, you get a reward. If players beat it, they get a reward. You can see the results of battles and bring your boss [back to the garage] to change and improve it, create a new monster to terrorize players, anything you want, then send it back to battle to see how it performs."
Cars can be decked out with parts won by playing the game or purchased in Crossout's marketplace. "The game has a player-driven economy, so players decide on prices themselves. They need to decide if they want to sell something cheap and quickly, or raise the price and wait for a sale," Shveyko said.
Dynamic threats keep things interesting regardless of which mode players choose. Sandstorms reduce visibility and cause damage, herding players toward the center of the map and keeping the pace of matches like free-for-all deathmatches.
Crossout is far from finished. Like a vehicle able to accommodate a host of new parts, Gaijin and its community share a common goal: to filter every design decision through open-ended mayhem.
"We launched a closed beta in early April, and now we keep on testing it, improving it, and adding new modes, maps, and so on," Shveyko told me as our demo came to a close. "The more freedom we give to players, the less we can predict."