The Crew is a brand new driving MMORPG from Ubisoft, and if that sentence doesn’t raise a few red flags for you, you haven’t been paying much attention to the games industry lately. With the recent bungled launch of Ubi’s Assassin’s Creed: Unity, and the frustrating performance of always online games like SimCity and Diablo III, it seems like this ambitious racer has everything going against it.
Luckily, against all odds, The Crew is proving to be an absolute blast that keeps its promises. Check out these 4 features that make The Crew one of the freshest racing games in years!
It Really Is An MMORPG
The Crew’s marketing hasn’t been shy about defining it as an “Open World Driving MMORPG”. When you consider the number of high profile games that haven’t lived up to their hype in the last few years, it’s easy to be skeptical of such an exciting pitch.
Driving and MMORPG seem like two genres with differing gameplay styles and goals. The first tests you with reflex and finesse-based skill challenges, often against closely matched opponents. The second lets you outlevel most challenges that might otherwise hold you back. Bring the higher stats and better gear to a fight, and you’ll run roughshod over your opposition.
Somehow, this giant driving playground manages to deliver many of the features that make MMORPGs so appealing. Each car behaves like a separate character in a traditional MMO, complete with its own visual customization and stat boosting gear with color coded rarities. You’ll unlock character classes for your cars as you level up in the form of tuning kits, allowing you to swap between options like the off-road specialized Raid spec, and the raw high speed of Circuit spec.
A perk tree ties all of your cars together, letting you mold the game to reward you for doing whatever you like the most. Prefer to explore? Increase the territory radius that your car discovers wherever you drive. Love Dirt spec cars? Discount parts purchases for every Dirt ride you own. You can even spend points to buy more informative driving lines that’ll train you to take tough corners at the optimal speed and angle.
In The Crew’s scaled caricature of the United States, you can drive from Miami to Los Angeles in somewhere around 45 minutes, and that’s just one straight shot road trip on the fastest recommended route. The game’s map is utterly enormous, with enough highways, country roads, city blocks, and off road wilderness that you could explore for hours on end without touching the same stretch of ground twice.
Certain cities and landmarks have been moved or resized, but it’s all in service of great gameplay. For example, the Grand Canyon in The Crew sprawls across the better part of the American southwest, but the result is an exciting, winding drive with beautiful views and plummeting drops.
On a map so big, you’ll be thankful that the game features an exceptionally permissive fast travel system. When you’re not in an event, you can teleport to literally any inch of the map you’ve driven before. It’s a smart design decision that lets you explore without having to worry that you’ll be stranded in a remote area of the map when the mood to do something else strikes.
So go ahead! Scour for all of the hidden car parts that unlock bonus vehicles. You can hit the next race at the push of a button.
A massive world is a good start, but if everywhere you travel you’re facing down uninspired, repetitive events, those miles of territory will feel like nothing more than a slogging commute from one boring exercise to the next.
Luckily, the developers at Ivory Tower have seen fit to pack the nation from end to end with varied events. Some suit off-road vehicles, like dirt races and hill climb challenges. Others favor raw speed, like long distance highway drives and police pursuit escapes. Still more reward precise handling, like city races with their 90 degree corners and slalom events that ask you to keep control while zig-zagging down the road.
The game’s events cover every level of time investment too. If you only have half an hour to burn, try to blast out a few skill tests. They’re bite-sized challenges that test your talents against a single stretch of road or exciting jump. Eager to burn a whole evening instead? Try a 64 checkpoint cross country race that guides you from the Rocky Mountains to New Orleans before it’s even halfway over.
Some events can take an hour or more to complete, so you’ll need to bring your A-game to the table if you don’t want to have to call your race a lost cause 30 minutes in.
A Place To Race Together
Many racing games make multiplayer a feature in which players compete against others for their personal glory alone, so it’s a nice change of pace that The Crew makes driving so cooperative. Most of the game’s missions can be faced with up to 3 additional players, and for some of the harder ones, help is very welcome. Takedown missions, where you’ll try to ram an AI vehicle off the road, are way easier when you can cooperate with a friend to box in a rascally opponent.
Even if you don’t have friends playing the game, the quick co-op option let’s you see if any drivers in your vicinity want to join in on your next task, and all parties involved gain a boost to experience points and Bucks, the game’s currency.
The Crew also features organized PvP racing, but this too is pitched with more consequence than just racing for your rewards. Every player will choose to represent one of five factions in the game, and the more you race, the more points you’ll contribute to your faction’s standing.
In many games, this would result in most players gravitating toward the faction that wins the most often, but The Crew has a clever safeguard for that. The higher a player’s individual contribution to his or her faction, the greater that player’s reward. The best players will have incentive to swap to the worst factions, since a big fish in a small pond earns better prizes.
Start Your Engines!
If you’ve been skeptical that The Crew could possibly deliver a satisfying fusion of open world driving and MMORPG progression, worry no more! Get your hands on this varied and satisfying racer, and make your mark on the world in burnt rubber.
Leave your review of The Crew in the comments. Or, if you haven’t played it yet, ask a question about it! I’ll answer as many as I can.
Prefer your driving games more tightly focused? Try one of these driving sims for PC!