Crackdown 3 is a mysterious beast. Since first being announced in 2014, it has succumbed to repeated delays and rumours of huge issues in the development process. That being said, E3 seemed to be something of a renaissance for the game, as a new trailer, featuring the excellent Terry Crews, confirmed the games’ February 2019 release date and all seemed to be relatively well. When you really dig down into the game’s recent history, the lack of information really does seem telling.
Dave Jones, who created the Crackdown IP, had been attached to the project from the outset and this was a factor that Microsoft really pushed when they first started to talk about what Crackdown 3 was going to be like. Not only that but his new company, Cloudgine, promised a new kind of cloud based multiplayer gameplay which would allow a level of procedural destruction not possible on the base console.
It was these two factors in particular that led people to believe that Crackdown 3 was going to offer something that we hadn’t seen before. When talking about the destructability engine in a conversation with the print magazine GamesTM, Jones said:
“Unlike other games, this wall has compute power and memory on demand. Each single bullet will take away a little bit of the geometry. And everything is physical. In true Crackdown style if I want to be at the top of a building, any building, and create a little sniper nest and shoot my friends from there so they can hardly see me, then that’s pretty exciting. That’s the kind of thing we can do.”
All things seemed to point to quality, but with Epic Games stepping in to purchase Cloudgine and install Jones in a new role as the director of cloud and eSports strategies at Epic, it was unclear where that left Crackdown. Not in a particularly good place, I would imagine. Recent comments on the games unique destruction potential made by Microsoft studio head Matt Booty, in conversation with Polygon, did little to assuage those worries:
“It is still part of [Crackdown 3]. We’re not showing a lot of details about that here. We’ll have more to show as the year goes on. You know, we’re super lucky as part of Microsoft that we get to work so closely with the Xbox platform team, that the cloud shows up in all of our games in pretty exciting ways. […] Over time, things will evolve and I can’t really speak to what’s in the game, but it’s — these days with a big game like that, we’re very fortunate to have access to industry-leading cloud technology.”
At this juncture things really don’t look great for a game that, not too long ago, seemed to have limitless potential. This is conjecture, so it could be that Booty is trying to keep his cards close to his chest, but generally when things are going really well for a game as important as Crackdown is to the Xbox, those involved are keen to shout it from the rooftops.
Crackdown 3 is (probably) releasing on the Xbox One and PC on February 22nd 2019