In most Western markets, the majority of players may not even be aware of Crossfire, which has been overshadowed by the legendary franchise that inspired it: Counter-Strike. In other parts of the world, especially China and other Asian regions, Crossfire is legitimately one of the most played games of all time. CrossfireX is the latest generation of that PC-only title, and brings Crossfire's Counter-Strike-esque gameplay to consoles for the very first time.
Developed and published by Smilegate Entertainment in partnership with Microsoft and Xbox, with a single-player campaign crafted by Remedy Entertainment, CrossfireX seemed poised to carve out a new space for itself in the bustling first-person shooter segment. Unfortunately, CrossfireX screams "incomplete" out of every ugly crack, ultimately demoting itself to a game that can provide a few hours of fun to some, but is best left alone by most.
Bottom line: Hints of a solid, finished shooter shine in CrossfireX at times, but at the end of the day, all you're getting is a short, average campaign and a multiplayer experience that lacks content and feels torn between two worlds.
- Semi-decent campaign
- May satisfy CS:GO fans on console
- The potential is there
- Movement and aim controls feel unrefined
- Game feels unfinished and incomplete
- Campaign is short and generic
- Terrible UI and UX design
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by Smilegate Entertainment. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
CrossfireX: What's good
I'll be upfront — there's not a ton of good things to say about CrossfireX. That isn't to say you can't have fun with it, but any nugget of good you find in CrossfireX is often mired in mud. CrossfireX's ultimate saving grace is its low cost of entry, making it easy to test the waters in the free-to-play multiplayer, or spend a little money to invest a few hours in a middling campaign.
|Smilegate Entertainment & Remedy Entertainment
|Xbox Series X|S & Xbox One
|Single-player & Multiplayer
|Xbox Game Pass
|Yes (Operation Catalyst)
|Feb. 10, 2022
|Free (Multiplayer) / $10-25 (Campaign)
|Xbox Series X
I'll start with campaign. CrossfireX's single-player narrative aims to provide context on the ambiguous conflict that dominates Crossfire's in-game universe, between opposing forces Global Risk and Black List. It does so with two 3-hour stints from the perspective of either side.
Operation Catalyst, the half of the campaign included in Xbox Game Pass, tells the story of an elite Global Risk squad infiltrating Black List territory to eliminate a dangerous threat. Operation Spectre tells the contrasting tale of Black List operatives attempting to stop Global Risk from destroying their organization. The latter is by far the superior campaign experience, making it doubly unfortunate that it, for some reason, is not included in Xbox Game Pass. It has a final mission that I actually quite enjoyed outside of the frequent glitches, half-baked and suddenly-introduced mechanics, and an abrupt end.
Completing both campaigns took me just under six hours, an experience that I found to be... just OK.
If you were expecting CrossfireX to fill in the gap left in the first-person shooter campaign space by the likes of Battlefield 2042 and others, this is not that. If, on the other hand, you can forgive the campaign's numerous faults (more on that below) and enjoy a vaguely plot-adjacent romp through hordes of faceless enemies, the campaign's short length actually plays into its favor.
Overall, the multiplayer side of CrossfireX is in the worst shape. Still, the "Classic" multiplayer mode does hint at the unique flavor of gameplay that makes these games so popular. I had a few moments of fun playing Search and Destroy (this mirrors Counter-Strike's popular Defusal mode), Team Deathmatch, and the ridiculously silly Nano game mode.
CrossfireX is probably never going to fight its way onto the list of best Xbox games, but there is some potential here. I may even choose to return from time to time if CrossfireX eventually improves in any way.
CrossfireX: What's not good
CrossfireX is a mess, the kind of mess that oozes into every orifice until nothing is left untouched. It's hard to know where to start when breaking down this mess, so I'll start where the game does: the interface. From the moment you begin, CrossfireX meets you with UI and UX that feels confusing and lacks natural direction. It seemingly changes from screen to screen, is filled with obfuscated layers, and often doesn't give you the information you need.
At least the campaign's respective menus are more traditional, but this is only because each campaign is effectively treated as a separate game within the game. Want to play CrossfireX's campaign? Load up the multiplayer, choose which half of the campaign you want to play, and then load up the campaign, which features its own unique interface. Of course, CrossfireX's campaigns were developed by a different company, but the integration on offer here is still the bare minimum.
Some may argue that Crossfire is a PC game first and that it's difficult to translate it to console, but bad UI and UX design is bad no matter the platform. It's just easier to notice on a controller, which relies on clear navigation and easy-to-find information to peruse comfortably. CrossfireX's interface is constantly fighting itself, and is further soiled by frequent freezes, hangs, and loading screens.
When you actually begin playing, you'll notice CrossfireX's visuals are lackluster, generally lacking detail. This is especially true in the campaign, which is disappointing given Remedy's knack for environmental storytelling and art direction. From almost every angle CrossfireX looks like a generic one-of-a-thousand first-person shooter, even on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.
One of the most egregious flaws holding CrossfireX back, however, is its horrendous movement and aiming controls. Every movement in CrossfireX feels off, as if someone else is controlling the character. Aiming is overtly sensitive, which can only be partially rectified by aggressively lowering aim sensitivity and aim assist. There's no way to tweak aim acceleration, so any attempts to fix the movement and aiming controls are further hampered.
Even with aim acceleration settings, CrossfireX would still lack the polish that games like Halo Infinite and Counter-Strike have mastered. One of the most important things to get right in a shooter is how players control their character, and CrossfireX falls short in many ways. Granted, it's difficult to translate a PC-based first-person shooter to consoles, but CrossfireX just gets it wrong.
These issues are further accentuated by animations that constantly glitch and even break. For example, for a full half-hour of the campaign, any time I attempted to sprint would be met with a few seconds of my character sliding across the ground aimlessly. In a multiplayer match, the entire second half of the game saw my character endlessly vibrate up and down, even when aiming or standing still. It feels like literally every animation in the game related to movement fell apart or glitched in some way during my playtime, making it even more difficult to move and aim the way I intended to.
While I previously asserted that the CrossfireX campaign can be worth playing, that comes with a caveat: How important do you consider narrative? Both halves of the campaign are generic and droll, with basic plots punctuated by blunt writing, and a cast of characters comprised almost entirely of ruggedly handsome macho men and a handful of witty femme fatales.
Operation Catalyst, in particular, is headlined by a series of dreadful tropes such as "There's no way this could've happened unless one of our own...betrayed us?"; and, "Oh no! This character I just met, but am supposed to care about for some reason, was shot in front of me (and died off-screen)." Operation Spectre was an improvement, but it still had majorly rushed plot that felt all over the place.
There are plenty more faults I can discuss regarding CrossfireX's campaign, but for the sake of brevity I'm moving on. CrossfireX's multiplayer experience is divided into two modes: Modern and Classic. Modern attempts to imitate other shooters with its own unique mechanics, but ultimately falls flat by feeling wildly unbalanced, unfocused, and similarly affected by all the issues I discussed previously. It's best to avoid Modern entirely. Classic mode is, for all intents and purposes, Counter-Strike on consoles. It does accomplish this, for the most part, even if it lacks refinement in the interface, maps, moment-to-moment gameplay, and practically everything else.
What stands out in the multiplayer is the blatant lack of content. There are only six modes in total — two for Modern and four for Classic — and each has exactly one map assigned to it. That's right; any game mode you play will be played on the exact same map into perpetuity.
There are only five maps in CrossfireX, meaning you can effectively see everything the game has to offer and all its game modes in about an hour. After that point, your enjoyment of its repetitive gameplay loop is all that's left since you can't rely on CrossfireX's progression. The Battle Pass provides no direction on how you're supposed to progress (in three hours of multiplayer matches I didn't progress even one tier). Almost everything in CrossfireX beyond the default weapons and equipment is locked behind a confusing storefront laden with in-game purchases and microtransactions, and there's an arbitrary, separate rank from the Battle Pass that appears to do absolutely nothing, and doesn't have its own menu you can access for further information.
CrossfireX: Should you play it?
CrossfireX is the inevitable conclusion after months of sporadic communication, mystery-laden delays, and an eventual launch that arrived before anybody could review its merits. It meanders near the edge of "disastrous," but barely manages to salvage itself thanks to its decidedly average campaign and the allure of CS:GO-like multiplayer on Xbox consoles. CrossfireX is burdened by a myriad of flaws, ranging from the generic and poorly written narrative to fundamental flaws in the movement and aiming controls.
With sustained commitment from its creators and a robust post-launch support plan, CrossfireX could blossom into a solid first-person shooter for Xbox players. Unfortunately, there's no assurance that this game will ever receive the attention it desperately needs. In the meantime, CrossfireX is just OK, worth playing only if you can forgive the numerous flaws in its content-baren multiplayer or generic campaign.
Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.