Crossfire: Legion review (PC)

With Crossfire: Legion, we’re getting another classic RTS experience at the tail end of 2022 – does it live up to the classics of the genre? We checked out this PC exclusive.

Whenever a real time strategy game is announced, we usually think the same thing – will this one reignite our Command & Conquer spark? We weren’t expecting that to come from Crossfire: Legion though – we only know the Crossfire franchise as first person shooters, so when developer Blackbird Interactive (known for their work on the Homeworld franchise) and Prime Matter announced Legion we first had to convince ourselves this wasn’t actually a shooter.

Unsurprisingly, the game’s set in the same universe as the shooter games, and pits the Global Risk and Black List factions against each other with New Horizon joining the fray. They’re not the greatest names perhaps, but in a nutshell the Global Risk is a force of peacekeepers that wants to keep big corporations safe through mostly traditional military means whereas Black List aims to disrupt, using guerilla tactics. New Horizon, perhaps as the name suggests, aims to provide a third way to play – a more futuristic one, with powerful mechs at their disposal.

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Having multiple factions to choose from is a mainstay within the genre, and much depends on how well they’re balanced. Crossfire: Legion does a good job in this regard, and we have a good time with all three factions, which all lend themselves to different gameplay styles. There’s a unit cap in place that prevents you from building massive armies, but other than that you have a choice to be aggressive or more tactical and scheming in your approach.

Zooming in on the gameplay, Legion uses a familiar template of harvesting, building and upgrading, and while there’s not much between Black List and Global Reach in how this plays out there’s a fun tech tree to explore with the more tech-heavy New Horizon faction. The included single player campaign is a great way to get to know them all, as well as the mechanics, though many of those will feel like a refresher course for genre veterans.

We thought the campaign was on the short side though, wrapping up in under ten hours. It’s fun, fully voices and features a narrative, and we wish it was more substantial in length, rather than feeling like a prelude to the multiplayer – even though we realize that that’s where a lot of people’s hearts are in games like this.

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For them, there’s a good number of ways to play with others. There’s the usual skirmish mode for up to six players competing and collaborating in 3vs3 scenarios, but Crossfire: Legion also features a few modes that are a bit more unique. Operation Thunderstrike has you playing together with a friend in order to defend checkpoints against incoming waves of enemies, while Payload has a similar but more offense-oriented approach, in which you safeguard your supplies while also taking out the enemy. Brawl and battle lines are described as arcade-like, and require quick thinking – with battle lines in particular making for a fun twist on RTS warfare.

But while you can play these multiplayer modes against AI opponents if humans aren’t available, the game always requires you to go through the online lobbies – which isn’t great if you’re looking to play while traveling, for example. This is something that’ll hopefully be improved post-release, just like the pathfinding – a bit of a staple for the genre, where units don’t go the intended way or get stuck somewhere. It’s nowhere near a dealbreaker as Crossfire: Legion is a fun RTS to play, but we couldn’t help but think “they should have found a fix for this by now””.

Perhaps issues like that make it more “retro” though, and Crossfire: Legion is a lot of fun as a throwback to the golden era of RTS games. Its audiovisual delivery is excellent as well, so if you’re looking for a polished take on a classic formula then this should fit the bill nicely. We had fun with it, even though we wanted more from the campaign.

Score: 7.1/10

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