Who had a Crash Bandicoot MOBA on their 2023 bingo card? After its debut world premiere trailer at The Game Awards 2022, Activision and developer Toys for Bob have been strategically tight-lipped on Crash Team Rumble. From what we could glean from sneak peeks on social media and a spare number of trailers, we knew it would see Crash’s iconic characters squaring up to each other in combat, but everything else was mostly kept a mystery. After going hands-on with a PS5 build of the game at GDC 2023, it turns out that this spin-off is more like Pokemon Unite than Crash Bash.
Matching the broad appeal of the franchise, Crash Team Rumble is very easy to understand. Two teams of four heroes attempt to gather a certain amount of Wumpa Fruit first; in our build, that meant 2,000 pieces of fruit without any time limit. Players mainly do this by breaking open wooden crates scattered liberally around the map, grabbing the fruit inside, and banking them by standing on their home base pad for several seconds.
But like any MOBA worth its salt, that’s not as simple as it sounds. Not only is the opposing team trying to grab all the fruit first, but they can use attacks to knock you away and/or damage you until you are forced to respawn, wiping out all the fruit you’ve gathered so far. Fruit isn’t the only thing to keep track of either. Several Gem Clusters on the map can be activated to give one side a temporary boost to Fruit banking, while relic keys can be used to activate relic stations for special items, forcefields, jumping pads, and other effects that can completely turn the battle toward your team’s favor.
Specifically, in one match on the Tiki Towers map, I was able to gather enough relic keys to call upon the powers of Uka Uka, which Crash Bandicoot fans will recognize as the voodoo mask spirit that serves as the overarching antagonist for the series. The blue sky turned into a deep purple as I rained fiery meteors down on the field, knocking out three of the four members on the enemy team. In another match on the Calamity Canyon map, the enemy team was able to summon a UFO that harried our team like a blue shell from Mario Kart.
Pick the right Bandicoot for the job
On top of that, your role on the team will largely depend on the character you choose. The build we played featured five of the eight characters that have been revealed thus far. Crash Bandicoot and Tawna Bandicoot served as the main Scorers, with high mobility and fruit capacity to bank the highest amount of points at a time. Crash’s younger sister Coco and Dr. Neo Cortex are Boosters who focus on relic keys and attempt to activate as many relic stations as possible. Meanwhile, Dingodile is a rough-and-tumble Blocker who can easily stand over the enemy’s banking pad like a goalie, not allowing their team to score.
Follow your character’s role well and you’ll fill up your item gauge quickly, providing minor boons to the party when your team critically needs it. For some defense, you can summon a Flytrap Spitter that fires on any nearby enemies or a Gasmozin Guard that can use his giant stature to prevent the enemy from blocking your team’s home base. If your team is in a tough slugfest, you can throw down a Healing Fridge that provides passive healing to you and your friends in a radius. Or if you want to score more points, you can use a Wumpa Stash that fills with fruit automatically.
Crash Team Rumble Preview: Final Thoughts
It didn’t take long for our team to work together, and I’m proud to say that we were able to win every match against the developers at Toys for Bob. Almost every match was close, though, and it took us a bit to figure out how to balance point-scoring with gem cluster boosts, our character’s roles, and relic stations. By the third match, I was so engrossed in the fight that I forgot I was playing a silly MOBA about stashing fruit. My hope is that the character progression and Battle Pass, with plenty of skins and cosmetic unlockables, are strong enough to sustain the game for multiple planned seasons.
Arriving much sooner than we thought, the Crash Team Rumble release date is June 20, 2023, with pre-orders available on March 21 and a multiplayer beta planned for April 20 to April 24. The game will feature crossplay between PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox One with no plans yet on a PC release. The Standard Edition will cost $29.99 and comes with the Season 1 Battle Pass, while the Deluxe Edition costs $39.99, comes with a Digital Proto Pack with hero skins and cosmetics, and extends the Battle Pass to Season 2.