When the original Crew was first announced, it was a compelling concept: An open-world racing game that would take players on a road trip around the continental United States getting into all sorts of vehicular-based racing hijinks. However, there were some issues with the execution. The open world had to be opened through completing a hefty number of challenges before you could even get out of Detroit. It wasn’t quite the get-in-the-car-and-go experience I was personally expecting. However, it would appear that developers Ivory Tower have gone back to the drawing board in the hopes of rectifying past transgressions with the upcoming The Crew 2.
I got a chance to go hands-on with an Xbox One build of the upcoming racer and it seems like they heard the call of the open road and want to give fans a chance to explore the highways and byways of America mostly unhindered. The Crew 2 looks like it will start off by taking players through a race that gives them the basic overview of piloting land, sea, and air vehicles before letting folks explore whatever tickles their fancy.
As players do things like complete off-road monster truck time trials, stunt plane score attacks, and fast-paced street races they’ll unlock more social media followers, which is the new way of leveling up and unlocking new gear. While the original Crew took a creative heist-based approach to gameplay, The Crew 2 is taking a more practical approach to the story this time around and making it all about coming up as an amateur racer looking to go pro. Overall though, it seems like the story will be rather and the game will instead focus more on its various races than telling a story.
When not involved in a race, players will be able to freely explore cities like San Francisco, Las Vegas, and New York in search for side challenges like high-speed records to set on strips of road or points challenges. While exploring the vast open world freely, players will be able to switch between boat, car, and plane at the touch of a button. If one was so inclined, they could just drive from one coast to the other very early on in the game.
The racing itself during my hands-on demo felt looser and more arcade style to me than during my last try at the upcoming sequel. This didn’t feel like it had as much friction from the tires gripping the road. Whether I was flying off a cliff off-roading or kissing some treetops while in a plane I found it remarkably easy to maintain control of my vehicle. The arcade vibe was also emphasized by things like ramps in street races that send cars flying with a little help from a nitro boost onto waiting rooftops.
My initial impression of The Crew 2 is that it's looking to right the wrongs of the past by providing players access to a large amount of options that only expands as players level up in the game’s world. While I can’t guarantee that it will hit the mark when it launches, as someone who enjoys open world racing games like Burnout Paradise, I’m hoping that The Crew 2 will help revitalize the market for arcade-style racing.
The Crew 2 is set to launch for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on June 29.