Crossout isn't the first game to use the idea of "build your own vehicle for PvP combat" and it likely won't be the last. However, if the phrase "build your own vehicle..." gets your motor running, then Crossout has plenty to offer already in its early beta.
The concept is as simple as it sounds. Pick a chassis, mount a wide variety of armor plating, wheels, and weapons; the combination of which gives you a vehicle power score (PS). Enter a battle and fight either alongside other players in PvE combat or against them in PvP combat (teams and solo are available).
This is my current car, two rocket launchers under... er, above the hood. Also an extra engine in back for high speed hi-jinks.
A Little Polish and your Car Shines
Where Crossout shines as opposed to, say, Robocraft or certain others in the genre is it focuses down entirely on wheeled and tracked vehicles. The 3D plane is there as far as map design goes and a handful of airial combat drones you can potentially launch, but keeping it terrestrial allows them to dial in the physics and structure of combat.
They also kept it squarely on the post apocalyptic 'realism' you'd expect. No magical healing, no weapons that are pure fantasy. Instead we see your standard fare of machine guns, shotguns, cannons, missile launchers, drones, blades, mines, and the very rare flamethrower, artillery, and guided missile.
Given its early beta stage, the game is probably not that well balanced, but the reality is combat can be so chaotic that it doesn't seem to matter to me yet. When you watch your masterpiece of metal get reduced to two wheels and a single machine-gun, but managed to still ride full-speed into someone firing a cannon, knocking them off target and tipping them over... well, that's the kind of cinema that makes Mad Max wet behind the wheel.
Crossout features the ability to share and vote on other people's creations. A StuG III - Neato!
Simply put, the chaos and carnage is fun. The physics feel good, though imperfect. The balance is close but probably not quite there (I'm of the distinct opinion that shotguns are a bit under powered and cannons likely overpowered at my ~3k powerscore level). For a game that literally just entered beta, we can forgive these kinds of issues.
It Really Grinds my Gears
Not perfect though. Crossout is a GRINDFEST. Weapons are broken into tiers (grey, blue, purple, and orange). The higher the tier of the weapon the more diverse and powerful they seem to become. While the old weapons appear to continue on, simply getting more powerful upgrades of themselves (which do add extra power score of course), new weapons begin appearing - like homing rockets, self guided rockets, mine layers, and so on. They also begin getting magical artifact like bonuses, like "Does up to +100% damage at full charge."
That in and of its self is not a problem. Grind up, get cooler gear, re-build your car. What gets me is that the power score add of some of these weapons and abilities means you can create a water-down version of your car that focuses on massive firepower and head into lower power score battles.
As an example you can mount a TOW rocket to a chassis and 4 wheels and end up at a power score of about 2,000. This puts your purple level super weapon into battles with people still grinding their early gear.
Ok now this is getting silly.
You don't have to grin up to purple to see this trolling, even with two (grey) 57mm cannons and a blue generator you can end up in battles at the 2,000 mark.
Compared to most people you're facing, that means you're literally dealing 2x the damage they are. While this does, in turn, mean your armor is going to be fairly low, the game certainly favors offense over defense. Having a bunch of extra armor and HP is meaningless if your weapons are blown off. As a result, more weapons is better than more HP.
Winning the Race
I'm a bit concerned of the Gaijin reputation for free to play games. So far the grind is steep and the economy seems relatively stable, but it won't be too long before plenty of people are hitting the power cap. If Gaijin can not right the course of offense being so much more valuable than defense, then the eventual increased power scaling of stronger and stronger weapons is going to continue to skew the feeling of players with a lot of time (or money) sunk griefing the newbies. On top of that, Gaijin does not have a fantastic reputation for avoiding adding in a few pay to win elements. Should any of these things begin to occur the fun of Crossout will fade quickly.
However, for the moment, with a ton of people experimenting with wacky designs and most people not taking it too seriously (or griefing TOO much) it has been an enjoyable ride through the dusty wastes of tomorrow.
Ok, this has gone beyond silly, circled full around, and has re-entered the realm of awesome.
Now, back to smashing some grills with my dual-wasp pickup truck. Vroom vroom!