Preview of the game is based on the Alpha version played in January 2016. It is not a review of the upcoming full release version.
I must start with one important statement concerning the game and its cross platform development. Because PC players will pay a high cost to enjoy the game. Unstable framerate is a serious torn that will impact the great gameplay Eternal Crusade offers. Supporters might also be disappointed in the lack of MMO aspect in the game. The game's poor optimization has left some of its backers out of the action. Eternal Crusade is currently available on Steam through its early access program for $40 and is being developed by Behaviour Interactive, a studio that hasn't really made anything groundbreaking prior to the reviewed product in question. You can visit the official game website to find more information.
Eternal Crusade delivers on that front. The last gameplay video I saw of this game was over a year ago, back then buildings and tanks didn't have textures, even some characters were lacking them but today things are different. Battlefields have been touched by the war. Corrosion, dirt and broken pieces are there to be seen. Character models are almost at their final stage of development, weapons could use a little bit more work to make them feel real. Unreal Engine 4's potential can definitely be explored with this title. Simple things like rocks look stunning in the game. Explosions are also breath-taking because of all of the particles that fly around when something is set off.
It reminds me a little of Warframe though, because that game was also trying very hard to introduce as much particles as it could to make the title more visually appealing. Lighting and shadows have been barely touched. To be frank I was expecting at least lights to look more realistic but most of them at this point are static and it is possible to mistake them for a label on some object rather than a glowing object. Grenades also leave their mark on the battlefield. Once you throw one and it explodes, it leaves behind it a scorched ground and it is there to stay for a while. You can go into a building and notice at least a couple of places where the ground had been burned by a grenade, it is incredible.
Thrown into the center of battle as a Space or Chaos marine, your main goal will be to purge the enemy and take strategic locations on the map in order to gather points and win the gameplay session. Since a new patch was released very recently in the customization department, you now have even more freedom to make each character your own by switching his primary and secondary weapons and also equipped throwables. The presets that are available in the game are tactical class (which has a standard bolter), the devastator class (the machinegun type of person, using heavy bolter, the fearful lascannon or a devastating plasma cannon), the assault class (comes equipped with a jetpack which has three energy bars each one granting a small amount of flight time or better described-jump time) and the apotheracy class who mostly serves as a medic replacement (he can instantly heal a friendly unit with his first aid vials) but that doesn't mean he cannot fight, his armory includes bolt pistol and chainsword which are both powerful enough.
Eternal Crusade also offers vehicles to make things a little bit more interesting, there are two of them. One is the gloriously crafted Predator Destructor which is the main battle tank employed by the Space Marines and the Chaos Marines. The other vehicle is a transport one which I am not familiar with but to its top there is a wielded machine gun that is powerful enough to take out enemies with ease. A very important part of gameplay at least for me were the executions, they make everything better. Finishing off an enemy and getting that extra one hundred XP is what all of us wanted while playing the game. The problem is executions take time to perform so you have to be sure there are no enemies around you. The good thing is that executions are different with each class.
One is where you simply put your foot on top of the enemy and shot a couple of rounds in his head, another drives your chainsword into his body and lifts him up in the air (a sight to behold). I do want to mention that one aspect of the game felt very out of balance, chainsword carrying marines had the advantage over those who prefer a long ranged weapon. One hit with a chainsword leaves a player dizzy and sometimes even unable to roll out of an incoming attack, it’s like not having any control over your character. One has to keep away from enemies with chainswords and kill them at a distance because up close they become a massive problem. Also marines with Jump Packs have an auto targeting mechanism which I consider an unfair advantage. It is great to see suppression make its way into the game, marines with heavy bolters can use their massive weapons to completely throw off the enemy's aim.
When facing heavy bolter fire, there is a 1% chance you are able to kill someone, the screen gets all fuzzy and blurry and you can hardly tell enemies and friendlies apart. There is a leveling system in the title but at this point it doesn't do anything. You just collect experience and level up and nothing else happens. You don't use the XP collected for anything, at fist I thought it might be for buying weapons but it would appear not. Weapons are unlocked for all classes in the customization menu, you just have to choose which ones you want to take with you.
In over four years of alpha/beta testing, Eternal Crusade is the first game I have encountered that most of the time dips below 30FPS when playing with a very powerful hardware. I don't want to judge the optimization to quickly because no one focuses on that in this point of development but I do have to state that most likely one will never be able to achieve a solid 60FPS in this title. If even at alpha a game has such an unstable framerate, by its final release it won't be any better. Developers keep claiming that the final stages are the ones meant for optimization yet I never see such a big difference from when the game was introduced to the moment it was finished, that even counts in a game such as Arma 3 which to this day performs horribly.
One tip I have to give is that playing on servers with less people is definitely better because your CPU won't start throttling performance and going near the 70C mark which isn't good for any CPU. Matchmaking is also a torn in one's sight. Having to wait over half an hour for a single game is unthinkable. At first I believed it was because a lot of players were in the game, soon I found out it's the opposite. There were at total around 400 players at peak hours of the game so it was hard to find games. I ended being up in queue of around 22 people wanting to be part of a match. Keep in mind this game is meant for consoles as well so there is the holding back of less powerful hardware in play here. One more thing that wasn't mentioned is that when buying items from the Rogue Trader, they still can't be used in the game which makes zero sense. I bought a couple of skins for my characters and was dying to try them out only to find the feature was not yet implemented.
Changes in development:
Changes happen in the development of every game but they are quite rapid in Eternal Crusade. None of them are good to be honest. When the game was first pitched to early adopters it was supposed to be an MMO, now it's a simple multiplayer shooter, the dream for a single server open world is gone, now it will be sort of a simulated experience with some RPG elements. Also there was suppose to be a free to play option for users that would allow them to test the game to some limit, that is no longer the case since January 2015. There has been some controversy on this because no one seems to remember the announcement happening that early in the year, myself included. Users have not be able to find an official statement on this anywhere on the site for the game in that timeframe, also the FAQ on the website hasn't been updated to claim that the free to play option is gone(as of January 27 at least).
On a positive note, Tyranid tests are happening which could mean we get to do some PVE soon. There is a video showcasing a tyranid swarm. Now at this stage it will be just a simple survival mode basically but I know there are many players including myself who are looking forward to it. At the current state of the game I would rate it 7/10 but we still need to wait several months for the release and see the final version!
Enough different classes
Frequent changes in development for the worse