Amazon readies 'Crucible' for May 20 launch with salvo of trailers

Six characters and three game modes have been profiled in a barrage of videos for Amazon Game Studios' "Crucible," a slick-looking May 20 release that's positioning itself for a piece of the free-to-play pie.

Looking like it's equal parts team shooter and battle arena, "Crucible" is being readied to take a chunk out of big hitters like "Overwatch," "Fortnite," "Dota 2" and even a pre-launch "Valorant."

After a week of character profiles, Amazon Game Studios is showcasing three game modes from its third-person perspective multiplayer action game ahead of a May 20 debut on PC.

(Console launches have not been announced, but are expected to follow in due course).

The Heart of Hives mode has two teams of four fighting against each other -- so far, so familiar for fans of "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive," "Overwatch" and the upcoming "Valorant" -- as well as a selection of AI enemies.

If that addition of server-controlled grunts sounds a lot like esports giants "Dota 2" and "League of Legends," then the Harvester Command takes the comparison even further, as two sides -- now expanded to eight players each -- compete to collect the most resources. Then they can level up their characters and gain a power advantage over the other team.

Alpha Hunters, by contrast, implicitly acknowledges the impact of battle royale games "PUBG," "Fortnite," "Apex Legends," "Call of Duty: Warzone" and "Free Fire."

While its 16-player headcount might be dwarfed by many of its fully fledged competitors, the mode throws a couple of curveballs into the mix: temporary alliances can be forged by hunters who survived their partners, but dynamics revert to free-for-all should they progress to the final three.

"Crucible" is to be the first of two large-scale video games from Amazon Game Studios in 2020, with online MMO "New World" expected in August.

It's also elbowing in on "Valorant" from big-hitting "League of Legends" studio Riot, which emerged in April as an exciting hybrid of "Counter-Strike" and "Overwatch" gameplay.

That "Valorant" nudge isn't just to do with release dates -- Riot's latest has its full launch a month or three later in northern Summer -- but also in terms of platform advantages.

Where Riot introduces a global "League of Legends" fanbase to its upcoming slate, Amazon owns enormous video game streaming service Twitch, which holds court to tens of millions of viewers and, where developers allow it, lets audiences influence how live games unfold.