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November 2018

The Crew 2

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: June 29, 2018


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'The Crew 2'

by Cody Medellin on June 4, 2018 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

The open-world racing game returns in The Crew 2, letting players experience the thrill of the American motorsports spirit inside a fully redesigned USA.

Pre-order The Crew 2

Roughly a year ago, Ubisoft revealed that it was working on The Crew 2. While the wide-open version of the United States was still intact, the story and vehicles are very different. With less than a month to go before The Crew 2 is released, Ubisoft decided to throw together a closed beta, and we gave it one last look before an eventual review.

If you're only familiar with the first game, then prepare for a number of changes. From a story perspective, the revenge tale is out, and a more festival-like atmosphere is in, taking a page from the Forza Horizon series. Your goal is to become a superstar racer, and to do that in the modern era, that means signing up with the best crews and performing stunts to get followers and boost your status. Each discipline has its own superstar that you need to take down, so the journey from rookie to megastar is eventful. The small snippet of story we've seen is interesting, but we'll definitely need to see it in the full game before we determine whether it's decent.

The list of disciplines has multiplied this time around. Car racing is still a big focus, and that means being able to take on different race types, including drag races, drifting and street races. Off-road racing is also available, so you can take to the open field with a buggy, dirt bike or even a monster truck. New to the game are speedboat races and airplane racing. The former is similar in nature to off-road racing but with wider turns, while the latter is split between actual racing and performing stunts for points.

Even though there are a multitude of vehicles, they all control similarly. The game adopts an arcade style of handling that is far more relaxed than many other arcade titles in the last few years. You can scrape by buildings with barely a reduction in speed, and running over rocks is treated as a means of jumping rather than a full stop. The tracks contain loads of ramps and a few camera-worthy moments where you'll narrowly miss something or take a huge leap and land completely unaffected. The spectacle is present, but so is the sense of speed, which feels good no matter which vehicle you use.

There's more to The Crew 2 than races. The game sports a pretty nifty video and photo editing system, so you can snap stills in any weather condition with special filters. The game helps you along by automatically keeping the last 10 minutes of your travels in memory, so you can go back a few races if you forgot to take a shot of that event.

Since The Crew 2 is a Ubisoft game, you'll be doing all of this in an online, open-world setting. For the most part, that means you have the ability to travel from one racing spot to another if you don't want to use the menus to jump to an event. It also means you have a whole playground to drive or fly in, and you'll occasionally run into other online players. The world felt empty during the beta, but the game tries to spice things up by giving you picture missions to earn more cash and followers, but that system feels problematic at the moment. For starters, finding the object you want to take a photo of isn't intuitive, so you'll spend your time driving around, jumping into photo mode, and then scouring the landscape for 10 minutes in the hope of stumbling upon what you're seeking. The photo system also seems generous when it comes to doling out significant rewards; we maxed out our follower number just by doing initial races and taking two snapshots. Here's hoping that the system is improved before it breaks progression.

The other thing the open world has you doing is chasing down randomized crates to give you parts for all of the vehicles you own. The tediousness of driving for random loot aside, the upgrade system feels different from other racing games, since there's little guessing about which parts are better or worse than one another. The gear follows a ranking system similar to Destiny, so you immediately know via a number scale if something is worth replacing.

Based on the beta, The Crew 2 looks to be pretty interesting. The racing can be fun no matter which vehicle you're using, and every vehicle feels appropriately fast. Cheesy story aside, it looks like there's enough here to be engaging. The open-world section is where the worry starts to kick in, as photo hunts and crate hunts can't make up for the rather empty feeling you get when not racing. With less than a month to go, here's hoping the hiccups are unique to the beta and that once other gamers are present, the full experience is much more entertaining.

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