Crash Team Rumble is a surprisingly strategic multiplayer | Hands-on preview

by on April 24, 2023

Crash Bandicoot has been a part of gaming for a long time now, whether as part of a platformer, racer, or something else. Now, Crash and friends are back to take on the medium of online multiplayer, and so far, Crash Team Rumble is pretty good. It is by no means going to appeal to everyone, and it took me a while to appreciate what it was trying to achieve in the closed beta, but there’s a surprising element of strategy to it, and if you can team up with players who actually want to work as a team, it can be a fair amount of fun.

The main purpose of Crash Team Rumble is to collect 2000 wumpa fruit and drop them off at your team’s base. By breaking boxes and picking up the fruit, each character can collect a limited amount. As long as you don’t get killed before dropping them off, they’ll build your team’s amount and edge you closer to victory. Of course, there’re variables which stop this from happening. Your opponents can attack you and take you out, but there’re various traps you can unlock to hamper their progress as well.

There were three specific classes in the beta, and each one serves a purpose when playing. Characters like Crash are Scorers, better suited to collect fruits and drop them back on base due to their effectiveness and speed when breaking boxes and getting around the map. Dingo Dile is a Blocker, fundamentally a big strong boy who uses brute force to both protect the scorer and wipe out any meddling opponents who try to take them out. He can whip enemies with his tale and use his vacuum to suck the life out of them, quite literally. Finally, you have Boosters like Cortex who are better suited at utilising traps across the map, and activating the score multipliers.

These score multipliers are key to collecting more wumpa. Gem platforms are available for each team, and to activate them you simply need to jump on them, however, enemies can also jump on them and break the chain. Once they light up in your team’s colour, they’ll add a percentage bonus depending on how many you activated. A 40% increase in wumpa means if you plan your strategies effectively, you can gather in excess of 500 in a manner of minutes, something I witnessed first hand, if only it was my team making the most of this. One of the biggest issues I had, and not something the developers can control, was a lack of teamwork by players who either don’t know what they’re doing, or simply prefer to just go around and kill their opponents.

The multiplier mechanic is a great way for your team to plan their approach, but if everyone isn’t working together, you’ll often find your dedication to the role you’ve chosen proves to be futile. If you are intending to play Crash Team Rumble with friends, this isn’t going to be an issue. You will find players who want to work together, but for the most part of my time with the closed beta, not everyone wanted to play ball. It’s a shame really, because there’s a strong foundation of gameplay to be built on, and while at first I wasn’t particularly gripped with it, I did start to appreciate the nuanced mechanics of each class and objective when I was part of a strong team.

With many live service games, the reason for returning follows two distinct paths: enjoying the game and what the Battle Passes reward you with. While Crash Team Rumble does have potential for plenty of enjoyment to be had, the Battle Pass at present doesn’t feel that exciting. Certain rewards like cosmetics look fine for what I’ve seen, but levelling up seemed relatively slow compared to the likes of Fortnite. Of course, we’re not at full release just yet, and the likelihood of player feedback being taken into consideration for the full release is a given. Time will tell with just how these improvements come to fruition.

Based purely on the closed beta, Crash Team Rumble has potential. Its simple gameplay structure works great if teammates work together, and the visuals are vibrant enough for fans of the Crash series to appreciate. The Battle Pass could do with some improvements, especially to how slow you seem to level up, and when more maps and characters are added, there’ll definitely be a market for more players to join and enjoy as time goes on.

Crash Team Rumble is coming to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, Nintendo Switch, and PC on June 20th.