Crash Team Rumble has all the ingredients of an engaging online multiplayer game. Its team-based fundamentals are strong with a small but well-thought-out roster of playable characters and varied map design that greatly complements the game’s quickfire matches. It’s unfortunate, then, that Crash Team Rumble is lacking the content – and progression – needed for a live service title to stand the test of time.
Moreish multiplayer fun
Easy to pick up and play
Playable characters all feel unique
Just a single competitive mode
Grindy, unsatisfying progression
Oddly long load times
Paid game with battle pass model
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Platform reviewed: PS5
Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
Release date: June 20, 2023
Crash Team Rumble is some of the most fun I’ve had with a multiplayer game all year. Its MOBA-lite setup, combined with a heap of platforming action, is unlike any other online game on the market right now, which in itself is commendable. Especially so when developer Toys for Bob has done such a superb job executing on the concept.
So it pains me to say that Crash Team Rumble might just be one of the most tragic releases of the year. Being a multiplayer-only title, it goes against the grain by not being free-to-play. And while not a full-price game, you will be paying extra for seasonal battle passes if you’re keen on earning all the cosmetics the game offers for progression.
And it’s rather slow progression at that, the battle pass’s experience gauge trickling upwards just ever so slightly after every match - even when you’ve managed to tick off a few EXP-rewarding challenges. And with just a single competitive mode available at launch, Crash Team Rumble is a game enjoyed in short bursts of play.
The silver lining in all this is that Crash Team Rumble is seriously fun, and even more so if you can convince some friends to play along with you. But given the bare bones state of the game around launch time, it’s most certainly going to be a hard sell for players who can just otherwise carry on playing some of the best online games or best free-to-play games instead.
Everybody jump around
It helps that Crash Team Rumble is hard-carried by its highly polished, MOBA-esque playstyle. Each match pits two teams of four against each other, and you’ll need to work with your teammates to run, jump and dash across the map in order to collect the series’ iconic Wumpa fruit. Once you’re capped on the delicious snack, you’ll mosey on back to your team’s bank to deposit them. The first team to deposit a total of 2,000 Wumpa fruits wins the match.
But that’s just the baseline. Crash Team Rumble throws several spanners into the works to elevate play to a much higher level. Capturing gem platforms will give your team a boost, increasing the amount of fruit they’ll be able to bank. These can be fought over between teams, though, so there’s usually some intense scrapping over these at the start of a match.
You can also collect relics scattered across the map, which can be deposited at various drop-off points to earn your team-specific perks. These include missile bombardments to keep the enemy team at bay, jump pads to launch you to the opposite side of the map, a bed of mushrooms that slows movement, and tornadoes that can make much of the map impassable for the enemy side. Relic powers can quickly turn the tide of a match, so it’s worth learning each map’s gimmicks to see how they can improve your chances of a win.
Crash Team Rumble's moment-to-moment action is almost constantly electric. When both teams are close to that 2,000 Wumpa fruit goal, the feeling of scrambling around the map for that last bit that'll push you over the edge is always a thrill.
Each of Crash Team Rumble’s maps bears a unique flavor, then, but it’s the characters themselves that add the spice. There are only eight at launch, but each is radically different from one another. Crash himself plays much as you’d expect, able to spin, slide, and body slam, making him a solid all-rounder.
Cortex, meanwhile, can apply various effects to opponents with his ray gun, such as slowing them down or temporarily zapping them into an animal. Want a character who can throw their weight around? Dingodile is a real problem. High HP and strong crowd control make him an absolute nightmare to deal with when he’s guarding an enemy bank, totally preventing players from depositing their hard-earned Wumpas.
There's very little to complain about when it comes to Crash Team Rumble’s match-to-match play. Like Splatoon 3, matches are over in mere minutes, lending the game a strong element of pick-up-and-play, while being easy to learn and somewhat challenging to master. I do hope Toys for Bob elects to add a ranked mode, though, as matchmaking is all over the place without it.
Taking the pass
In a perfect world, we’d all just be playing Crash Team Rumble for the fun of it. On its own merits, it’s brilliantly fun online multiplayer action. But with it comes modern multiplayer design in the form of a linear battle pass; XP which you’ll earn upon completing matches and various weekly challenges.
The pass offers strictly cosmetic rewards, from character skins and backpacks to emotes and profile banners. All pretty standard stuff. The problem is that the pass is strictly linear, and offers nothing particularly exciting unless you’re keen on collecting Crash-themed cosmetics. Crash Team Rumble’s battle pass only has one linear track; you’ll get your rewards in the same order everyone else does.
That’s perhaps to be expected, but nonetheless a bit of a shame. We’re now seeing games like Fortnite make their battle passes significantly more interesting. In the popular battle royale’s case, you’re often able to choose the rewards you want most and leave the ones you’re not too fussed about. It’s a great feature in that game, particularly so for those who don’t have all the time in the world to play.
Not so in Crash Team Rumble. Want that flashy skin for Neo Cortex? You’ll need to grind it out like everybody else. And grind you will, as experience gain starts to drop off once you’ve worked your way through the limited weekly challenges. Thankfully, there are cosmetics unique to each character that you can earn just by playing as them, no battle pass needed. That goes some way to justifying the cost of the game, but not by much.
A curious Crash
Crash Team Rumble is certainly worth your time, but at its current price point and relative lack of content, not necessarily your money. At present, servers seem populated enough that we had no trouble queuing into matches quickly. Though, I did note that loading times are strangely lengthy for a title that’s wholly reusing Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time assets.
At this early stage, it’s hard to say if Crash Team Rumble has a healthy life ahead of it. Paid live service titles typically haven’t had much of a shelf life; see Anthem and Marvel’s Avengers for proof of that. But it would be a crying shame to see Crash Team Rumble share the same fate.
I strongly believe that Crash Team Rumble should be a freemium title, especially as it’s already got the infrastructure of one. Crash is a popular IP, but not so much that it can excuse the fact that you’re paying for a single multiplayer mode, no matter how fun that mode may be.
Unfortunately, there’s not much in the way of accessibility options for Crash Team Rumble at present. For one, there are no colorblind options, a strange omission for a multiplayer game that has color-coded teams and items. And when it comes to the options menu itself, it’s relatively bare bones, featuring just a motion blur toggle and the option to switch between stereo and mono audio output.
One option I do recommend, though, is the one that enables the bank arrow. This will provide on-screen guidance to your team’s bank while in-game. This is just a fantastic thing to have enabled for everyone, as it’ll provide easier navigation and have players spend less time swinging the camera around searching for the bank.
How we reviewed Crash Team Rumble
We played Crash Team Rumble over the course of several nights with multiple members of the TRG squad. In our time, we endeavored to try out as many characters as possible, on all of the game’s maps, to get as strong a feeling for it as possible for this review.
We also analyzed progression in the game, from the battle pass to individual character leveling. During our testing, we found progression to be fairly slow, and we were only able to rank up a few levels on the battle pass each night during sessions that lasted anywhere between two to three hours.
Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.