The Crackdown 3 multiplayer game will blow you (and everything else) away

We were privileged enough to not just see it in action, but actually to take the multiplayer game out for a spin.

One of the headline features of Crackdown 3 is the use of the cloud to take on the physics computations which allows for the sheer scale of destruction possible. We'll touch on that in a minute, but it's important not to neglect the single player, story driven game. The important thing to put out there right at the start is that the cloud physics are not in the main game. The reason for this is simple: people want to play offline. Since you're already connected to play multiplayer, it makes total sense.

Crackdown 3

The single player game doesn't take anything away from what Crackdown has always set out to be. It's still a 3D platforming game; you can climb any building you can see, and you're still trying to take down the Crime Lords as a member of the Agency. It's skills for kills, so you'll get better the more bad guys you take out, but there's a new gameplay mechanic in action known as the Hate System.

The Crime Lords are more difficult than ever to beat in Crackdown 3. They're not putting themselves out there in harms way for you to just find and kill. Instead, you have to draw them out, and that's where the Hate System comes in. You'll need to target their businesses, their runners, essentially cause trouble for them and make them hate you. It's not a static measure, either, and hate will drop after a while if you don't keep plugging away. Once the hate bar reaches 100%, the boss comes out and you get your chance. The one we saw in the demo was protected by an exo-suit that bullets couldn't penetrate. So, you have to be more creative, using destructible elements in the world around you to help finish them off.

Something that adds to the futuristic look and feel of Crackdown 3 is what they're calling "Digital Fabric." It's cast over the whole city and allows for digital signs to be projected around you. But the Crime Lords can also hack into the Fabric and use it to track you as you move about the city. Digital Fabric is also present on vehicles, and fans will be pleased to know that transforming vehicles are back, redesigned for the new generation experience.

There'll be much more to it than that as we've only seen very, very early pre-alpha gameplay in action. But so far, so good.

Then we get to the multiplayer. Where things are going to get crazy.

Crackdown 3

The multiplayer game is a different map to the single player experience, and it's where the power of the cloud physics comes into play. None of the graphics rendering is affected, all of that is still done on the console. All that goes off to the cloud is numbers, calculations. By freeing up the computing power of the console to concentrate on the rendering, the effects are mind blowing. Truly mind blowing.

The game will dynamically switch and add more servers as it needs them. If you're not blowing anything up everything is being done on the console. But the more you destroy, the bigger the effects, the more servers are pulled in to do the calculations. You'll never see how many it's using at any one time, there's no choppiness, nothing player facing that would indicate that any of this is going on. The gameplay remains smooth, even if you've got several enormous buildings toppling at once. It's remarkable to see.

As you fire weapons on buildings, pieces of it begin to fall away. The bigger the weapon, the bigger the impact. But as the outer layers begin to fall off you expose what's inside. The superstructure is there for you to carry on hacking away at. If you fire on higher floors, you can watch huge pieces of debris fall to the ground. These pieces don't disappear, either. You can blow them up into smaller pieces, and so on, and so on.

Crackdown 3

You may also be wondering how much bandwidth you're going to need to be able to take advantage of this. The simple answer is; not much. The developers told us that the system is optimized to be used on a 2-4mbps connection, though that's based on 4-player multiplayer only at this time.

Besides being enormous fun and technically astonishing, there is also some method inside the madness. Imagine in a giant multiplayer arena, your opponent is standing on a bridge. Just blow up the bridge and take them out with it. They think they can hide from you at the top of a skyscraper? Bring it crashing down. The destructible elements are going to add a whole new direction of multiplayer gameplay. Unpredictable, if nothing else.

So, are we excited for Crackdown 3? Absolutely. It's still a long way off being finished (the multiplayer we went hands-on with is still pre-alpha), so we're going to have to tough it out. But based on the time left until launch to polish and perfect, and what we've already seen, this is one to beat for 2016.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

46 Comments
  • The visuals are just beautiful!
  • I forgot to read the word 'away' i was like what? Blow you? But im glad u guys enjoyed it. :)
  • Sounds incredible and puts Titanfall to shame
  • How does it put Titanfall to shame? It's an entirely different genre of game.
  • I think Titanfall used a sort of "cloud rendering" like this for it's background imagery. This game seems to improve on this tech.
  • Titanfall uses cloud for npc ai like forza's drivavatars.
  • No it didn't. Titanfall used Azure mostly for game servers with AI bots. It didn't do any graphics-related work on Azure.
  • Titanfall used Azure for dedicated servers, AI and some physics.
  • I love the Crackdown series and I'm glad this one looks to be going back to it's roots with just the gangs.  I really hope they still include Online Co-op for the regular game.
  • Co-op is the only reason I bought the first ones.
  • The problem won't be bandwidth in this case. Its latency that will really slow things down (as is the case with all online games)
  • Nope, cloud calculations are not used for real time physics. When you hit a building cloud has already calculate what will happen and told it to your local machine to be rendered.
  • Don't believe that's how it actually works. It is actually doing it in real-time.
    There's an extended about 10min demo(you can find it on youtube) where he talks a bit more about the technical side of things. Obviously not a deep dive though.
  • Correct. The calculations are real time, but since they're only numbers they require low bandwidth to be performed. It then renders locally on the console using the data provided from the cloud. Or so I understand (or tried to understand)
  • Glad to hear that the game will be able to be played offline. That was my big concern when I heard of the cloud stuff. 100% destructible environments sounds amazing. They should be tossing that out in the marketing every chance they can.
  • I'm just curious how many people have an xbox or PS4 that are not connected to the internet. I bet it's a really small amount of people and they are holding the rest of us up on the true potential of the internet as it relates to gaming.
  • Some people live in areas where they can't get high speed or unlimited internet.
  • I want this!
  • If they get this right, I'll be happy. Looking good so far.
  • Lmao way too many words between "blow you" and "away"
  • We're you able to record any footage from your game time?
  • Maybe this can show the cloud naysayers that the cloud can and will make gaming experiences amazing. With the cloud technology the xbo has a really long lifespan if done and managed correctly. Imagine how awesome a game could be with cloud only processing and the console only displays prerendered frames from the cloud, if a high speed/low latency connection is available. The possible resources is almost infinite. The hardest thing to overcome is the connection speed and latency.
  • That's streaming like ps now.
  • So can we play the single player online and have the same amount of destruction or are we forced offline with limited destruction?
  • I think that would fragment the experience for users. I think it'll be forced offline. But since its campaign, there's probably already a lot of destruction.
  • I personally don't see anything wrong with people having different experiences if they don't wont to go online.
    But that's not the way they have gone, campaign is offline with limited destruction. As long as its a good game that's what's important though.
  • No, they pretty much said you can destroy the entire city. How can they design a single player campaign around that?
  • Fair point. Then again, Mercenaries did that too.
  • The destruction seems more linear in single player from what I've seen. You can still blow things up, but it's more controlled. The multiplayer environment seems basically totally open for you to go completely bananas in.
  • @Richard Devine Were you playing it on an Xbox One? Or is it still running in engine?
  • Xbox One I believe. Just a sandbox of the multiplayer environment. About all we can expect this far from launch.
  • I had fun playing the first Crackdown so can't wait for this to come out
  • Awesome
  • it looks like ok. nothing to drool about. I am sure a videogame will look better soon and that would be the "best new thing" even if the gameplay sucks or it's the same generic one.
  • I thought the destruction looked great. Never like Crackdown, but like that destruction.
  • I have high hopes for this game. Rich you're definitely reassuring me. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Bring it to PC, xbox one is crap, who want to game on such low refresh rates and slow hardware.
  • aw poor pc fan we're all fans of microsoft 
  • The writer acts as if this type of destruction is new. Battlefield has had that type of destruction for quite a while. It would be novel if the destruction is truly physics based and can be different every time. Not sure if that is the case here.
  • Red Faction Guerilla also.
  • I feel you misunderstood. Sure, destruction isn't new. The scale of it in Crackdown 3 is unlike anything we've ever seen before. Topple a building, it falls into another, which falls into another. Nothing slows down, nothing lags. The cloud computing means that what's possible is leagues beyond anything in Red Faction, Battlefield or anything else where everything is being done locally.
  • the power of the cloud is real!!!!!!!!
  • Odd i know, but they never had any kind of environmental destruction in any other previous crackdown games, i wonder if this is going to be good, this just reminds me of Red Faction on steroids LOL :P
  • Crackdown 3 sounds like a mix of Crackdown 1, Red Faction Guerilla, Battlefield, and Shadow of Mordor to me. I'm in!
  • I want this game!
  • So, if you destroy a building and then leave the area, will the building still be in ruins when you come back...?