During a recent Crackdown 3 (opens in new tab) hands-on event where I tried to take on the final boss at Level 1 (opens in new tab), I also got some quality time with Wrecking Zone, Crackdown 3's 5v5 multiplayer mode. You can watch one of those multiplayer matches in full above or on YouTube (opens in new tab), complete with rocket launcher blasts, melee charges, and high jumps all in 4K.
This particular mode - one of two available at launch - is Agent Hunter, where killing your opponents makes them drop an emblem you need to collect in order to score a point (just like Call of Duty's Kill Confirmed mode). To justify Agent-on-Agent violence, the lore explains that Wrecking Zone is just a simulation the Agency uses to train recruits as they shoot, leap, and dodge around giant virtual arenas. We got to run rampant on the Hall of Heroes map, a highly vertical playground full of breakable statues and walls that crumble differently based on what you blast them with.
Because the map is so vertical, and with so many destructible walls you can hide behind, traditional aiming would be almost impossible - so Wrecking Zone features copious auto-aim, denoted by a giant red line whenever someone's got you in their sights. As a result, the firefights feel like lock-on festivals, where skill seems to be of less consequence than getting the jump on someone before they can swing around and auto-aim you back. Sadly, the environmental destruction doesn't feel all that empowering when it's so easy to run and hide behind cover, or leap far away using a jump pad to hide and recover health.
You've also got some abilities at your disposal, like a deployable shield or instant super jump, but they're barely noticeable during the course of a match. Irritatingly, your ultimate ability - which charges up on a bar in the bottom left corner of the HUD - doesn't persist through death, and doesn't seem to do much when it's active. From what I played, Wrecking Zone was entertaining for a few rounds, but it seems like it'll be a short-lived distraction from the open-world campaign that's always been the core of the Crackdown series. You can see if you have a better time in Wrecking Zone when Crackdown 3 launches for Xbox One and PC on February 15.
"We didn't know if we could make it fun" admits Crackdown 3 developer (opens in new tab) in a recent interview.