Crash Team Rumble has serious potential, but its price might be its undoing

Crash Team Rumble playable characters jumping into the foreground
(Image credit: Activision)

There's been no shortage of bright and colorful competitive multiplayer games in recent memory, with Crash Team Rumble looking to throw its hat into the ring next. In a gaming landscape that’s been dominated by everything from MOBAs to shooters and car soccer, the marsupial’s latest offering does a good job of standing out - at least from what we’ve played in the closed beta. 

It’s been nearly three years since the release of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, which saw everyone’s favorite orange mascot platformer icon return with a true sequel to the beloved PS1 trilogy, hot off the heels of the N. Sane Trilogy remakes.

Developer Toys for Bob returns for Crash Team Rumble, and offers up some new ideas from within the confines of competitive multiplayer to the series many of us hold near and dear. Those who pre-order the game were able to play it this past weekend, though there's no news of an open beta ahead of the slated June 20 release date for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and last-generation consoles. Oddly, no PC or Nintendo Switch versions have been confirmed as of yet.

Given the success of Splatoon 3, Overwatch 2 and Rocket League, there’s certainly potential in going over-the-top with bright colors and cartoony visuals. That’s something that the Crash Bandicoot series has always excelled at, but how well do established platforming fundamentals slot into a competitive multiplayer setting? Pretty well, as far as the current state of this upcoming game is concerned. 

Crash Team Rumble: Price

Crash Team Rumble playable characters

(Image credit: Activision)

The biggest issue that we have with Crash Team Rumble is the price tag. Depending on which version you go for, either the standard or Deluxe Edition, you’re going to be paying $29.99 - $39.99 / £24.99 - £34.99 / AU$44.95 - AU$64.95 to play the game.

There’s no getting around the fact that these rates are quite steep, especially as the title fits the free-to-play business model to a tee. There’s a Battle Pass tied to progression, as well as in-store purchases for cosmetics, all things which are typical of titles such as Fortnite which are otherwise playable without charge. 

The closed beta only gave us a small slice of what’s to come: a total of five characters and three maps of varying sizes, so it’s hard to judge the value proposition upfront. However, given that Crash Team Rumble supports crossplay, we think it’s a missed opportunity to have a paywall up – albeit not one at full retail price – which could restrict the playerbase and the longevity of a game like this. Overwatch 2, also owned by Activision Blizzard, went free-to-play to great success after originally carrying an asking price, so this move seems a little regressive. 

Crash Team Rumble: Gameplay

Crash Team Rumble playable characters battling

(Image credit: Activision)

Crash Team Rumble keeps things straightforward with a fast-paced spin (get it?) on typical MOBA conventions. The aim of each match, which generally lasts around five minutes, is to be the team to collect 2,000 Wumpa fruit first. 

That’s easier said than done, of course, as you’ll also have to contend with active power-ups, such as a plant that spits acid and a magical healing fridge, as well as fighting over gem path boost zones. These are light platforming challenges which must be completed and then defended to give your team a serious Wumpa fruit advantage which can make all the difference between winning and losing. 

Each team consists of four characters which are made up of three classes; Scorers, Blockers, and Boosters. In the closed beta, there was no restriction on how many of each class you could choose, as we regularly saw more than one Crash and Tawna in our teams and the opponent’s. 

The pick up and play nature of Crash Team Rumble gave the game a moreish quality that made us want to continue playing, with each successive victory far sweeter than seeing the Battle Pass bar go up a few notches. It all comes together incredibly well, as Toys for Bob have built a really solid foundation when it comes to an easily understandable, yet surprisingly deep gameplay loop. 

Crash Team Rumble: Characters

Crash Team Rumble

(Image credit: Activision)

Characters are generally easy to grasp, and while not exactly tough to master, do offer varying degrees of depth. Each brings their own kit to the table, too. Crash is quite straightforward, playing mostly like he does in the main games with his triple spin attack, evasive slide and powered up body slam.

Dingodile can deal big damage with a charged tail swipe, suck in Wumpa boxes and push enemies away with his gun. Tawna, meanwhile, is great for enemy player encounters, with a melee combo string and a grappling hook for quick movement around the arena.

It goes a bit beyond that, too. Each character has their own stats, like speed and strength, and suggested difficulty of play (though no character feels particularly tricky). Each also has their own Wumpa fruit collection cap (Crash can hold up to 120, while nimbler characters like Coco can only carry 90), which helps to give every character their own pace.

This Wumpa cap also helps to distinguish each playable characters’ strengths. Coco may be able to hold less than the others, but her shield wall ability is great for map control, allowing her to focus on collecting relics to activate map-specific power-ups. Tawna, meanwhile, has a cap of 110, and is well-suited for rapidly collecting Wumpa with her fast speed and grappling hook.

Of the five characters available in the closed beta, not one felt like they were severely underpowered or at a disadvantage. Coco seemed a tad weak at first, until I realized her abilities are suited to a more control-oriented playstyle, making her a solid support character. Similarly, Dingodile’s dumpy speed doesn’t feel great at first. But he works wonders as a defender for your side of the map.

Crash Team Rumble: Progression

Crash Team Rumble map overview

(Image credit: Activision)

Progression, unfortunately, is where things start to fall apart in Crash Team Rumble. At least going off the impressions given by the closed beta. As with the vast majority of online multiplayer games, completing matches earns you experience towards the Battle Pass and your character. Leveling these up will unlock cosmetics such as skins, emotes, profile banners and accessories. Nothing we haven’t seen before, then.

While the rewards are nice and add flavor to the game, I feel that the overall experience earn is quite slow. While you will get larger dumps of experience for, say, winning a certain number of matches, you’ll only find yourself going up a few levels after exhausting these. Progression feels substantially more drip-fed after that.

The Battle Pass in the closed beta only had 40 levels, which is smaller than those found in games like Fortnite and Warzone 2. I suppose that somewhat justifies the slower burn, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a buff to experience earned in the final release as the balance doesn’t quite feel right at present. It remains to be seen just how substantial the final game’s Battle Pass – and its Premium counterpart – will be. 

The future of Crash Team Rumble

Crash Team Rumble enemy base guarded by a transformed N. Tropy

(Image credit: Activision)

As mentioned at the top, Crash Team Rumble isn’t a full-priced game, but it isn’t free to play, either. And as it’s a multiplayer-only title, that’s going to rub plenty of folks the wrong way. Of course, you’ll have the hardcore Crash fans and parents buying for young children on day one, but I think there’s limited appeal beyond that at the $29.99 / £24.99 price of entry. Or $39.99 / £34.99 if you opt for the Deluxe Edition.

It seems like it’s too late for Crash Team Rumble to pivot to a free-to-play model. And I find it unlikely that Activision Blizzard will change tact here. After all, Overwatch 2 is its dominant free-to-play game; it’s likely the company didn’t want to encroach on that territory.

More baffling is the lack of PC and Nintendo Switch versions. As a paid game, surely it would make more sense for Activision to target as many audiences as possible. Doubly so, considering Crash Team Rumble supports cross-platform play. Here's hoping the game's successful enough to warrant additional platform support somewhere down the line.

That’s a bit of a shame, as I came away from Crash Team Rumble’s closed beta with positive impressions. It’s a very solid and unique online multiplayer title, but it’s hard to say if the game will have staying power given its relatively high cost of entry. I’ll be rooting for its success, though, as I’m all for the online multiplayer space being shaken up by fresh new contenders. 

Aleksha McLoughlin
Hardware Editor

Aleksha McLoughlin is the Hardware Editor for TechRadar Gaming and oversees all hardware coverage for the site. She looks after buying guides, writes hardware reviews, news, and features as well as manages the hardware team. Before joining TRG she was the Hardware Editor for sister publication GamesRadar+ and she has also been PC Guide's Hardware Specialist. She has also contributed hardware content to the likes of Trusted Reviews, The Metro, Expert Reviews, and Android Central. When she isn't working, you'll often find her in mosh pits at metal gigs and festivals or listening to whatever new black and death metal has debuted that week.