One thing about me is that I really love mascot platformers. Aside from Spyro, Crash Bandicoot is my favourite, and I will eagerly play any new game released in the franchise. As such, I jumped on the chance to buy this new brawler game. I was excited to play it, but I very quickly noticed several ways that Crash Team Rumble could be improved.
There’s a lot of great stuff going for it, and it’s a strong premise. However, I feel it needs some work by the developers or it may well find itself leaking players. I’m probably gonna stick around regardless as I enjoy the core mechanics. However, with a few improvements, Crash Team Rumble could become something truly great.
Some of my fondest gaming moments are when Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled was released. Those first few months were incredible. Every month, we’d get a new theme which would bring a whole host of characters and customisation options, as well as a new map. But the coolest part was being able to compete against players from all around the world. Unfortunately, after a few months, the player numbers dwindled, and the game fell apart. It became nigh on impossible to find enough players for an online lobby, and so it’s now essentially only playable in Campaign Mode or Couch Co-op.
I’m very worried about Crash Team Rumble being doomed to a similar fate. I have huge concerns about its longevity, not least because it doesn’t offer a Campaign Mode. Online Mode is all it has going for it, so if there aren’t enough players, it will become totally defunct. I bought the Deluxe Version and I’m starting to regret it, because I’m worried that by the time Season 2 rolls around, there’ll be hardly anyone left playing. It’s only been a week and I already sometimes struggle to find a lobby depending on the time of day.
They really need to do a better job of promoting the game so that it can bring in new players. With an active player-base, the game could thrive, but it’s already showing signs of a struggle.
One of the major ways that Crash Team Rumble could be improved is if they did a better job balancing the teams. They should use an algorithm or something to track player stats over time so that the more experienced players and the people who play their roles get to be on a team with each other. It’s really frustrating when I lose a game because my teammates are running around doing nothing instead of fulfilling the objective. This is especially the case when we have a Blocker who decides to play as a Scorer, because then we’re left defenceless. The other day I was playing as a Blocker, and there was a Scorer just camping the enemy team’s base with me, just dancing around. I wanted to scream at him “Go and score some points!”.
I understand that they are probably working with fewer player numbers than they’d like, but that’s not really much of an excuse. At the very least, they could put the best players on opposing sides so that it’s more of an equal battle. But honestly, I wouldn’t mind waiting a bit longer to get into a lobby if it meant I could be teamed up with better players. Being in a team where everyone plays their roles is so much more rewarding than being stuck with confused noobs who are doing everything wrong. Nothing wrong with noobs, everyone has to start somewhere, I just don’t want to be on a team with them.
More Game Modes
One of the reasons why I enjoyed Crash Team Racing so much is that there was plenty of variety. Even though it was a racing game with powerups, it was so much more than just that. You could play races, you could play battles, there were CTR challenges, relic races, and tournaments. The range of game modes kept it feeling fresh, and that’s what’s lacking here. Every match is pretty much the same, just with a new location and different powerups. It’s fun, Crash team Rumble could be improved if there were multiple game modes.
Game Mode Suggestions
Off the top of my head, some game modes that could be really fun are:
- Immunity – All players are Scorers, and they have to try and bank as much wumpa as they can. Just like in regular mode, the first team to bank 2,000 wumpa is the winner. There’d be no gem multipliers, and the relic powerups would all be speed boosts or team multipliers. You’d be immune to attacks from the opponent, so the only way you could die would be by falling off the map. This game mode would be a challenge in reflexes and strategic thinking. You’d have to decide whether to prioritise relics or wumpa, and which ones to go for.
- Free For All – Instead of being a 4V4 challenge, it could be a free for all between the 8 players, each with their own bank. There would be more relic stations on the map, meaning a better chance to claim powerups for yourself. In this one, you’d have to decide whether to just try and bank your own wumpa, whether to try and collect relics for powerups, whether to fight for the gem multipliers, or whether to attack enemies at their banks. It could lead to some really unique tactics, and would be very different to play.
- Frenzy – Pretty self-explanatory, this one would be a frenzied chaos of speed and powerups. Players would move twice as fast (including the time it takes to bank/ capture gems), deal twice as much damage, and there’d be twice as many relics and relic stations. It would be a super-fast game mode that requires quick thinking and excellent precision.
Think of literally any other game that has a Battle Pass (which is most online games these days). Admittedly I haven’t played all of them, but every one that I have played has included challenges. They’re a core part of a decent Battle Pass mechanic. Yet, for some reason, Crash Team Rumble has elected to exclude them. Levelling up on the Battle Pass is relatively slow, and highly dependent on your teammates. It doesn’t matter how well you personally play, you’ll still level up a lot slower if you keep getting stuck on losing teams. Challenges would give you the opportunity to be more in control of how much XP you earn.
They give you one ‘Weekly Expedition’, but it can only be claimed once, and quite frankly it’s not enough. Not to mention that it encourages only a single style of gameplay. For example, this week you had to earn Scorer badges. Which mean that there was no incentive to play the role as a Booster or Blocker. There should be multiple Daily Challenges for a small amount of XP for steady Battle Pass progression. There should also be more than one Weekly Challenge, as well as Monthly Challenges. Currently, you’d have to put in several hours of play every day to stand a chance of getting to level 100 in the Battle Pass.
Challenges could be used to encourage multiple styles of gameplay. More importantly, they could serve as an incentive for people to actually play their roles.
Access to a Store
Let me be clear here. I am absolutely NOT advocating for microtransactions. They are a plague upon modern gaming, and the only excuse for ever having them is if a game is free-to-play. Even then, it’s usually done in a pretty scummy way. However, I do think that Crash Team Rumble could be improved by providing a Store. We should be able to earn in-game currency by completing games and challenges. This, in return, should let us buy skins, emotes, hats, etc from the Store. It’s good that the game provides a Battle Pass, but that’s still limited, and a Store would offer players more variety as they could choose items that suit their personal aesthetic.
There’s hints that this could potentially be coming in the future as on the Battle Pass screen you get to see a crystal icon at the top. I’d assume that will be a future currency used in the game. My only hope is that its one earned through play, like with Crash Team Racing. If the crystals are only available through purchase, I’ll be pretty ticked off. Customisation plays a huge role in games like this, and players deserve more options.
The bots in this game SUCK. I know bots are never great, but these ones are beyond useless. In an ideal world, teammates wouldn’t leave, and bots would be unnecessary. But unfortunately, sometimes it happens, and Toys For Bob should be making sure that the bots can pick up the slack. In a 4V4 brawler game like this, every player counts. I played a game the other day that took over 20 minutes because both teams had 2 bots in them, and my team didn’t have any Blockers left. It was excruciating and not at all fun.
Firstly, they need to make sure that if a teammate leaves, they’re replaced with a bot of the same role. When in the gaming lobby, smart teams cater the roles so that there’s a decent balance. If a Blocker leaves and the game puts in a bot who’s a Scorer, the team will be at a huge disadvantage. There’s no way this should be difficult for them to do. Admittedly, my next suggestion probably requires some tricky coding, but this particular one should be super easy, barely an inconvenience (where are my Ryan George fans at?).
My other suggestion would be to give the bot a skill level that reflects the average of the remaining team members. This goes back to my earlier point about team balancing. They should be tracking player stats to see how well they play their roles, and how skilled they are. I don’t want bots to be so overpowered that they dominate the opponents. However, they also shouldn’t be so weak that they’re a hindrance. A healthy balance is crucial.
The above are my main grievances, but I think the below would also be great. Here are my further suggestions for how Crash Team Rumble could be improved:
- Add a HUD – Each map has a different layout, so it’d be useful to be able to reference the map at any point. You see it briefly for a few seconds at the start, but that’s it. The game should have an HUD that can be toggled on or off. It could show your bank, the enemy’s bank, and any gem and relic locations. It could also show the location of your team’s pings. Speaking of…
- More detailed pings – The game allows you to ping teammates, but it’s a simple ‘help’. That’s incredibly ineffective. It would be much better if the pings were used to alert to different situations. So, for example, you could have things like: ‘enemy here, need a Blocker’, ‘relics here, need a Booster’. It would allow the team to work together more efficiently without headsets.
- More Heroes – Only 8 Heroes wouldn’t normally be so bad, but because they’re split into categories, choice is limited when playing a role. Currently there are only 2 Boosters which is a pretty pitiful selection. I feel like adding just a few more Heroes so there were 4 for each role would be more fun.
- The ability to switch between powerups – Sometimes you anticipate one powerup being useful, but after adjusting to the other team’s playstyle, you realise something else would work better. I wish you were able to switch your personal powerup on the respawning screen after you die. The actual range of powerups is solid, I just want to be able to use them more effectively.
I’m aware that it’s early days, but that’s why I think player feedback is so important at this stage. Crash Team Rumble could be improved in several ways that’ll improve player retention and encourage more players. I really hope that the developers decide to take player feedback on board. Oh, and Toys For Bob, if you’re reading this, I’m available for hire as a consultant!
I really hope we get to see the game grow in the coming weeks and months, as it can be a lot of fun. When you’re in the right team, on the right map, it’s a dream to play. It just needs a few tweaks to become perfect.