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‘Crackdown 3’: This is what we know so far

Remember when people bought Crackdown because it was cleverly bundled with access to the Halo 3 multiplayer beta? That was back in 2007, and since then, the Crackdown franchise has provided two beloved, over-the-top sandbox experiences. At E3 2014, Phil Spencer unveiled a cinematic trailer for a third game in the series, Crackdown 3. At that point, four years had already passed since the release of Crackdown 2, but the announcement was still, perhaps, a bit early. In August 2015, the first gameplay footage was released at Gamescom, as well as an extended look at the gameplay via IGN. Even though the game went dark in 2016, Crackdown 3 is still officially project to come out this year.

If you’re eagerly awaiting the return of the Crackdown franchise, we’ve put together an up-to-date guide of everything out there about Crackdown 3. We’ll be updating this guide as more info comes to light, so keep checking in for the latest news.

A return to its roots

Crackdown 2, perhaps in an effort to resemble Grand Theft Auto, abandoned much of the humor and irreverent wit from its predecessor, and replaced it with a more serious approach. Based on the Gamescom 2015 trailer, Crackdown 3 appears to be a spiritual successor to the more lighthearted original. The somewhat cheesy, movie-style voice narrating over the trailer seems to indicate the Crackdown charm will return in Crackdown 3. Fast-paced, third-person action, complete with ridiculously high jumps, has been on display in the footage released thus far.

Dave Jones, the game’s director, and his team demoed at Gamescom 2015. The game ran relatively smooth for an early build. Since then, though, we haven’t seen newer versions in further along stages of development.

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, took to Twitter recently to offer his thoughts on his experience with the game.

Until gamers outside of Microsoft’s umbrella take a spin with newer builds, this is all we have to go on. Right now, it looks like an ode to the first Crackdown updated for a generation, and that’s not a bad place to be.

The Cloud lets you decimate the city in Crackdown Online

When Crackdown 3 was first announced, much of the initial excitement stemmed from its implementation of cloud computing features. High octane explosions were a major part of the first two games. As first mentioned in the E3 2014 trailer, Crackdown 3 will use the cloud to add a serious boost in computing power, far beyond what the Xbox One can achieve. We’ve seen the use of the Microsoft Azure Cloud in small ways — the Drivatar feature in Forza games, and for the enemy AI in the Titanfall franchise — but this is the first time we will see cloud-computing implemented on such a large scale.

The boost in processing power, however much it ends up as in the final product, will serve as a means to make the entire open world of Crackdown Online, an entirely separate portion of the game set in a different environment from the traditional campaign, a destructible playground. Think Grand Theft Auto Online, Crackdown-style. Everything, from cars to small buildings to towering skyscrapers, can be decimated as you please. Even cooler, the wreckage will pile up instead of vanishing like it did previous entries and most games, as shown off in the extended gameplay video from IGN. The video shows new vantage points and ways to explore your mess of a metropolis.

Or, when you’re done destroying everything for fun, this new mechanic can be used strategically. You can shoot through walls to open up large enough to fire at enemies through, but small enough to remain mostly shielded. Thinking about what you destroy first and why, will give you a tactical advantage over your foes. You can also pick up pieces of what you’ve destroyed and use them as weapons in addition to your gun arsenal.

Your actions will have consequences, though. In an interview with Game Informer, Shannon Loftis, general manager of Microsoft Studios, said, “Depending on what you choose to destroy in the environment, there will be massive, big reactions all over the city. Gangs will get together against you.” So, in other words, choose wisely before blowing up that shiny building.

The power of the cloud and what it means for you

In an interview with Gaming Bolt, Cloudgine, an independent studio developing the cloud-based components of Crackdown 3, explained how the feature works from a technical standpoint. “We are enhancing the gaming experience by using compute power and memory that is available server-side. We offload the expensive computations to Microsoft Cloud through our platform and send the results back to the Xbox One for rendering,” Cloudgine said. The process allows users to keep bandwith at 2-4 mbps. According to the interview, it’s unclear if the Microsoft Cloud mentioned is the same Microsoft Azure system used in the Forza and Titanfall franchises.

Just how much additional power will the Cloud add? Well, according to the trailer, “20 times the computational power of the Xbox One.” This number has only ever been claimed in the 2014 promotional trailer, though. In a media demo with Ars Technica at Gamescom 2015, Jones said, “We’re hitting about nine times the power of the Xbox One here in this demo due to the way the guys are playing. I think 13 times is our record, though. You really can raze the entire city if you want to.” In a separate report from VG 24/7 about the same demo, Jones claimed that the record for servers utilized in one session is 14 to 16. It’s unclear if the ratio of servers to Xbox One computing power is equal. The game seamlessly attaches to as many servers as needed, but the maximum number of servers accessible for a single game session has not been announced.

More: ‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’: News, rumors, and everything we know

New metropolis, still corrupted

Once again, the game will drop customizable Agents in a crime-laden world. According to the E3 2014 trailer below, your job as an Agent is to take down Vincente Villareal and the Los Muertos gang Crime Lords. This time, the futuristic Pacific City has been replaced by a currently unnamed city referred to only as “Gang Land” thus far. There appears to be connections to Pacific City, though. Villareal is friends with the kingpins from the first two games.

An exact timeline of when the story takes place is not known, but it appears to start after the events of Crackdown and Crackdown 2.

The world of Crackdown 3 is interconnected, and if the 2015 trailer is an accurate representation of what’s to come, you will be free to dismantle the Los Muertos gang in a variety of ways. Player choice has been a key component of the franchise, and this game seeks to up the ante. There’s also a new gameplay mechanic called the “Hate System” that will factor into the cause and effect of your decision making process.

That new system, combined with previous features like collecting orbs, is expected to make the game more expansive and dynamic than its predecessors. In the Game informer interview, Loftis said, “So the Crackdown campaign is definitely the most fully featured campaign we’ve ever done. It’s basically running a sim on top of the traditional Crackdown environment.”

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