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There's a moment where I knew what kind of experience I was in for with CrossfireX. At one point, after trying to open a door, an enemy—entertainingly labeled "Surprise Soldier" in subtitles—bursts through, attempting to kill you. The main character is saved by a decked-out military man named Nicholas, a PMC soldier here to save you from the other PMC. And then a follow icon appears over him.
Due out this year for Xbox One and Series X, CrossfireX has its Modern Warfare inspirations seeping out from every pore, but it's not coming from a studio that normally makes that style of game. Remedy Entertainment, the developer behind games like Alan Wake and last year's Control, is building a campaign for Crossfire's Western debut alongside original developer Smilegate. The Crossfire games are already popular overseas, but for its entry onto the Xbox, Remedy is adding a campaign that rivals the likes of Call of Duty. Or at least, gets the style right.
We got to sit down for a hands-off extended demo of one of the campaign missions, dubbed Operations, for CrossfireX, running on an Xbox One X. It's the sort of thing you probably expected when you saw the trailer debut during yesterday's Xbox showcase: lots of pushing forward, aiming down sights and firing, and moving towards the next objective. Playing as Luis Torres, a thief who's suddenly become a target for recruitment by one PMC, Black List, and targeted for death by rival PMC Global Risk, the mission follows an escape throughout every level of a hospital, culminating in a car chase in the middle of an oncoming hurricane.
It's standard fare for the genre, but when asked afterwards in an interview about how Remedy would leave its own mark, Executive Producer Tuuka Taipalvesi said he hopes players will "see [Remedy's] watermark to a degree on the content itself." Not just known for eerie atmosphere and storytelling, Remedy is also drawing inspiration from some unlikely places for crafting its narrative campaign.
"Obviously we're a first-person shooter, but like, we look more at games like Metal Gear and even Resident Evil in terms of just kind of being a bit larger than life with the characters, the kind of vibe," Thomas Puha, director of communications, says.
Remedy is, of course, working with another company's outline for its campaign. CrossfireX is bringing a long-running tactical shooter series to the Xbox ecosystem, and that includes a long list of past developments and a good deal of lore. Taipalvesi compared digging through Crossfire developer Smilegate's years of information as "archaeology," eventually resulting in a timeline the studio could lay out and work with.
It's for this reason that Remedy's campaign is broken up into Operations; essentially, vignettes starring various characters on both the Black List and Global Risk side of the PMC conflict. An easy comparison is G.I. Joe, where two organizations clash against each other in warfare across the globe, featuring a cast of expressive characters. There's a snarky one, a brash one, and even an evil general. At one point, a character derides the decision to use an ambulance as a getaway vehicle as the team is pursued by military humvees; the comedic-relief character chimes in that they chose the car because she "likes the lights."
Yet the hope is that, as Puha says, players will still be able to identify those "Remedy hallmarks" that appear in the campaign. From my early impressions, CrossfireX certainly seems like a Modern Warfare-alike, with even more over-the-top action and witty quips. Maybe a less self-serious, more Saturday morning cartoon action-romp can make a dent in the genre's years-old campaign conventions. It's certainly piqued my interest.