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Amazon's free-to-play PvP shooter Crucible is now live on Steam

Update: As of the morning of May 21, Crucible is now available globally.

Original: Crucible, the team-based PvP shooter from Amazon Games, is now live and open to all on Steam, and to mark the moment the studio has dropped a new trailer showcasing the game's oddball cast of "hunters," which includes aliens, robots, and a cat packing heat.

Each character in Crucible has unique abilities and weapons that can be upgraded over the course of a match, modifying and enhancing their abilities as the game progresses. Unusually, those unlocks are pre-selected at the start of each game rather than on the fly, which in theory at least should enable you to more effectively plan and pursue your upgrade path.

Three modes are available in Crucible at launch, including objective-based 4v4 and 8v8 modes, and a third called Alpha Hunt that sounds like a potentially interesting twist on battle royale: Eight duos do battle to be the last team standing, which is fairly standard stuff, but players who lose their partner can opt to team up with other involuntarily-solo players they encounter on their travels, so they're not stuck at a firepower disadvantage for the remainder of the game.

The catch is that these alliances of convenience can be broken at any time, so if your teammate thinks they're better off alone, you can very suddenly find yourself catching three in the head from an unexpected direction. This becomes a major risk near the end of the game, because once the match is down to the final three players, all alliances are broken to force a free-for-all finish anyway.

Unfortunately, we didn't get a very good look at this mode in action in our recent hands-on preview. Emma was cut loose almost immediately due to technical issues, and she was downed before she could connect with anyone else. She, like me, found the idea intriguing, but wondered how it will work out in practice.

"Working as a team feels integral to survive these intense encounters, and had I spotted another solo player I would have been eager to team up. I imagine this could add an unsettling—if not exhausting—edge to the mode," she wrote. "Maybe I'm a horrible teammate, but playing mind games on the lead up to betraying my buddy sounds very appealing. While it's a fun addition to battle royale, I'm unsure how realistic this expectation is in a real match."

After a delay of a couple of hours—it was supposed to go live at 3 pm ET, but didn't actually show up until around 5 pm—Crucible is available now on Steam, but only in North America: A "launch update" note on the Steam page says that players in other parts of the world will be able to get into the action "soon."

Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.