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I’ve been a big fan of everything strategy related from a very young age. I started my gaming journey with Age of Empires back in the day (the Skooma for my younger self). Later on, I moved on and explored more genres like FPS and RPG later on – but I was always more into RTS games. Of course, the genre has dwindled to almost nothingness now – but some games still manage to generate enough interest to stay relevant for a while in everyone’s feeds, before everyone moves on to the next entry in their favorite annual franchise. The vacuum left in the AAA space has mostly been taken over by indies now. One good indie that I was on the lookout for was Crossfire: Legion, since it adds a huge amount of replayability with the help of the unit variety that it promised. The game also has a sci-fi setting, something which I adored in RTS games ever since I played StarCraft 2.

Crossfire: Legion is a sci-fi RTS game developed by Blackbird Interactive and published by Prime Matter. The game was released in Early Access on Steam on May 24, 2022.

Inspirations Galore

The game’s story has a format similar to Command and Conquer, particularly that of Command and Conquer: Tiberium Wars or that of Command and Conquer : Red Alert 3. You have a hyper-advanced race full to the brim with weapons and gadgets that seem to come from many years in the future, the mainstream good guys who are shown to be bad guys underneath, and the token freedom fighters who have a purpose for their own. I expected the campaign to play out a bit different considering that the similarities were a bit too jarring, but I was wrong. In early access, the game has only launched with one act for showcasing the story – which sadly proves that the writing was never the priority. Act I is about the renegade faction called Black List – Crossfire: Legion’s Brotherhood of Nod. The real problem starts when you feel out of place while playing the story. In StarCraft as well as Command and Conquer, you have a well-fleshed out story that explains the background of the conflict and why it came into being in the first place. In Crossfire: Legion, the conflict is assumed to be in place already, and for some reason the developers assume that the player will know the background of the factions and the conflict beforehand.

The writing for the characters also seems to be very shoddy. Most characters are very lifeless and seem like generic everyday soldiers risking their lives of their battlefields. It’s difficult to make out their exact purpose or their relationships with one another. The story does hint toward the relationships shared between characters, but nothing major is told. For instance, Commander Freefall shares on the last mission of the campaign that she suspected Commander Phoenix’s brother Viper of betraying the cause of the Black List – she does not specify why she had a reason to suspect him, the player is forced to just swallow the reason and go with the flow. The storytelling needs to be a lot more polished if the devs want to make Crossfire: Legion the “next-gen RTS experience” as they had promised. But Early Access products have proven themselves to pick the pieces up through content updates before. So, here’s hoping that this will also be a similar case.


Crossfire: Legion borrows heavily from Command and Conquer and StarCraft for game mechanics too (as if I didn’t stress on that heavily enough). In fact, there are times when it is really difficult to spot differences in units and even their abilities for them. For example, the Troopers for Global Risk have a special ability called Combat Boost which allows them to increase their firepower by 10%, but they start taking damage as long as it remains active. StarCraft 2 veterans may be quick to recognize this ability. Even the Supply Depot for Terrans is renamed as Logistics Depot for Global Risk – used to increase “supplies” for more units.

The game lays a focus on collection of two resources which are given generic names (but somehow have a close resemblance with minerals and vespene gas, StarCraft’s signature resources). To make the game seem more authentic, a small drip of Command and Conquer was added. It would have worked if the game is a “throwback” to the glory days of RTS, but that is not seeming to be the case here. There’s hardly anything new that makes the game unique in the genre.

While there are unit counters in the game, it seems that the game mostly focuses on numbers. Whichever side controls a bigger, better army with more troops will win battles even if they have a type disadvantage. This makes skirmish games extremely boring – it becomes all about spamming units till the base of one side is destroyed completely. Skirmish games have little to no variety – they are played on the same maps which are used for the main campaign missions. The amount of content available in Early Access isn’t doing the game any favors either. Moreover, I found out that the game didn’t like me trying out new build orders or strategies – there’s little to no advantage to having map control (other than surplus resources, which helps train “more” troops – the key to winning in Crossfire: Legion). I do remember winning with a bunch of Medivacs and a marine army with Stimpaks on when I was playing on the StarCraft 2 ladder – in Crossfire: Legion, even a worker rush to a proxy Headquarter in the middle of nowhere sounds like a boring idea.

If that wasn’t discouraging enough, the game has a “daily mission” system reminiscent of gacha games. Daily missions are done to collect premium currency which is used to unlock units. The only problem with this system is that this system forces one to play the game online to complete these objectives. No matter what, if you do not play against human players, your objective progress won’t count. This is a very poor tactic used by the game to force people online, as it’s a choice between this or being forced to be locked behind progression gates. Needless to say, I am not the only one who is going to be upset with a system like this. The feature of going out to battle with varying unit builds, supposedly the main reason Crossfire: Legion was anticipated as being the “next great RTS”, might just be the cause of its downfall.

Uninspiring, Yet Decent

The game’s graphics are decent, but it’s not something to go over the top with. I really liked the design of the units – both 3D (on the actual battlefield) and 2D (in the cards). The full art for the commanders is really admirable (I like the artwork for Commander Angel the best, but that’s just me). The game’s map design is also really decent, even though there aren’t enough maps in the game right now.

The game does have a few performance issues. The game has huge framerate drops when fights The only real issue with the game is possibly the loading times, which were quite long. It’s not really excusable in the age of lightning fast SSDs.

Maybe Not Now?

Crossfire: Legion is currently in a very early stage of “Early Access” and a lot of development is required to bring the game to a state where it is actually enjoyable. However, the roadmap promised in a recent dev-blog does inspire some confidence in the product. But the truth of the matter remains. This is probably the first strategy game where I was really disappointed with the gameplay. I’d definitely suggest sitting this one out for the time being and waiting for some content updates.


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