Behind the wheel in Ubisoft’s open world, multiplayer racing game ‘The Crew’

Crew1

Ubisoft introduced us to two next-gen titles at E3 2013: The first is the online open world RPG Tom Clancy’s The Division, while the second inhabits the opposite end of the spectrum as a massive online multiplayer, open world racing game called The Crew. The game is developed by Ivory Tower in conjunction with Reflections, best known for their work on Ubisoft’s iconic Driver series.

But where Driver was tailored to a more one-on-one driving experience, with multiplayer mode occasionally tacked on, The Crew exists in expansive online realm. Like The Division, you can tackle it solo, but it’s designed to be more socially interactive. Besides, there’s really no such thing as a crew of one.

Crew3

Story

Pedal to the Metal. While The Crew is mainly about driving fast and winning, there is a deeper, narrative story built into the game. Although the game takes place in a stylized version of the United States, the storyline takes you and your crew down to the 510s, a Detroit-based crew that revels in illegal street racing. Although born in the Motor City, they have spread to different areas of the U.S., including Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Aspen, Monument Valley, and other locations that are idealized within the game.

Since The Crew takes places in an “open world version” of the states, the map is a quasi-realistic version of the country. According to the developers, it will take about two hours to race across their version of America – though everyone knows it takes a lot longer than that in real life. Of course, that two hour estimation assumes you aren’t distracted by the numerous side missions and multiplayer events throughout the game. It’s up to you to assemble your own crew, choose the preferred style of racing, and customize your car for the best experience.

Crew2

Gameplay

Go Fast. The gameplay in The Crew is simple: Be a speed devil. Sure, there are naturally nuances that come into play depending on the mission you’re running, but for most part that concept holds true throughout the entire game. With that in mind, The Crew controls like a standard driving game, with accelerator, brake, drift, and steering controls that will vary greatly depending on the way you outfitted your car. Car customization is a big part of the game, and you can change your ride all the way down to the chassis in an exploded view, swapping out parts and creating your own look.

Outside of the straight up racing, where you might be looking to increase your own street cred, you’ll also have various side missions like escaping the police or taking down other cars. You’ll be doing this across a wide variety of locales, including downtown city streets, suburbs, hillsides, cornfields, canyons, desert dunes, and race tracks. You can compete in open world events, or put together your own crew with friends and other players you come across. This can be done on the fly without dropping out into a lobby, and makes the game extremely dynamic during our hands-on experience. We were racing around Miami checking out the city and seamlessly responded to a crew invite for a target takedown.

1370793252_thecrew_render_ruf_3400k_fullstock_nologo_e3_130610_415pm

Presentation

Even at 100 mph, it looks good. The power of next-gen continues to make itself known in one of the best ways possible: By eliminating load screens. When you’re driving in The Crew, anywhere you see is somewhere you can go. Mountains far off in the distance? Yes, you can drive there. A stylized Vegas far below? Yep, you can head down and cruise the strip. When first presented with the choice of starting areas across the country, we opted for Miami and immediately leapt into a sun-baked version of that city, complete with palm trees and neon-colored buildings. There were plenty of options and side races to get into, and we cruised the streets prowling for events before responding to the call of a crew and pursuing a subject across a crowded beach. The entire time, things were seamless and gorgeous. It’s a rare moment in a game about driving when you actually want to stop just to soak in the scenery.

Ubisoft continues its tablet integration with this game, offering up the chance to customize cars with parts and paint on the tablet while you’re on the go. The company also promised that there will be some crew options as well, allowing you to assign tasks and gain XP, even when you aren’t in the game. During our demo, despite the minimal interaction, both the map selection screen and the car customization were active and looked very slick. There may soon come a day where you’ll want both your controller and a tablet with you as you boot up your favorite game. 

Takeaway

The Crew is heavily influenced by American car culture and the rise of entertainment like the Fast & Furious film franchise. Instead of focusing on just being at the top of the leaderboards, you now have a crew to build and missions to accomplish. Racing games like Forza 5, with its obsessive attention to detail and focus on the pure artistry of racing isn’t for everyone, but The Crew offers an entirely different experience. While the driving itself is just as adrenaline-charged, the different types of driving you’ll do here set the game apart from your typical racing fare. In our minds, The Crew is poised to reinvigorate driving games like Burnout did way back when.

The Crew will be available for next-gen consoles and PC in early 2014.

Gaming

Still trying to unlock your main in 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'? Try these tips

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is Nintendo’s biggest entry in the series to date with over 70 characters to unlock, but the process can feel tiresome. Here are our tips to unlock your roster as quickly as possible.
Computing

You’ll soon be able to scribble all over PDFs on your Chromebook

Chrome OS users may soon be able to doodle all over their PDF documents with the possible addition of a new feature in Chrome OS' PDF viewer. The annotation feature is expected to allow users to hand draw or write over their documents.
Gaming

Everything about 'Red Dead Online', including its new microtransaction store

Red Dead Online will gradually rolled out to Red Dead Redemption 2 players via a beta. We've got all the details about the beta's suite of competitive and cooperative modes, as well as what to expect going forward.
Product Review

‘Just Cause 4’ is mindless fun that leaves little room for much else

Just Cause 4 revels in explosions and over-the-top action, but its world feels empty and hollow. With few new ideas and a stale open world, it's a fun but shallow piece of escapism.
Gaming

Trash at 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'? Use this guide to train up and get good

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the biggest game in the entire series, and it can be overwhelming for newcomers not used to the universe-colliding fighting game. Here's what you need to know when you're starting.
Gaming

Where we droppin’ (presents)? Perfect ‘Fortnite’ gifts for the fans in your life

Chances are someone on your holiday shopping list is a fan of Fortnite. As the most popular game on the planet, there are plenty of Fortnite-themed gift options available for purchase in stores and online. Here are the best ones we found.
Gaming

Sega Genesis classics now playable on Amazon Fire TV, no retro console required

Sega released the SEGA Classics app for Amazon Fire TV devices, allowing gamers to play Sega Genesis classics without having to buy a retro console. The $15 app contains 25 games, including three remastered Sonic titles.
Gaming

Have a spooky dance party at an abandoned mansion with Fortnite's new challenges

The Fortnite season 7, week 2 challenges have arrived in Battle Royale. From searching for chests to dancing off at an abandoned mansion, here's how to do them and the rewards you get for completing them.
Deals

The Super NES Classic is the perfect holiday gift for Nintendo lovers

Whether you're a long-time Nintendo fan looking to relive the 16-bit glory days or just doing some holiday shopping, the SNES Classic -- now in stock at multiple retailers for $80 -- might just be the perfect Christmas gift for gamers of…
Computing

Turn your Raspberry Pi into a Steam streaming hub with Valve’s Steam Link app

Valve's Steam Link app is now fully supported by Raspberry PI hardware, meaning that just about anyone with a few dollars to spare can build their own Steam streaming box in a matter of minutes.
Gaming

Nintendo pulls the plug on making more SNES Classic, NES Classic systems

Nintendo extended production of the NES Classic and SNES Classic into 2018, but once the current supply of consoles is gone, the company won't be making more. Instead, you'll have to use Nintendo Switch Online.
Gaming

Fancy ‘Kingdom Hearts III’ PlayStation 4 Pro launches alongside game in January

A limited edition PlayStation 4 Pro bundle for Kingdom Hearts III will launch alongside the game in January. The system included has a special design on the side, as does the controller.
Gaming

Want to share your Xbox One games? Here's how to do it

Sharing games on modern consoles is possible, but it takes a few steps. Here's how to start sharing games on your Xbox One console, so friends and family can easily access your library.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.