When The Crew came out in 2014, it completely reimagined what was possible with an open world driving game by making it possible to explore over 5,000 square kilometres of US roads. Four years later, and The Crew 2 is almost here. The huge map is back, along with a host of changes that could make The Crew 2 one of the best driving games available in 2018.
We spent four hours driving, flying and boating around the virtual world of The Crew 2 at an Ubisoft-hosted event, and here’s our hands-on preview.
Release date, platforms and pricing
Before we get too far into the preview, let’s first quickly discuss the release date, platforms and pricing for The Crew 2. Following a setback earlier in 2018, The Crew 2 will finally be available to purchase and download on 29 June 2018, and will be available for PS4, Xbox One and PC, with enhanced support for the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.
If The Crew 2 sounds like your cup of tea, the good news is that you can already pre-order it for delivery on release day. Those interested in pre-ordering The Crew 2 in the UK can head to Amazon (£46.00), Argos (£48.99) and GAME (£49.99), while those in the US can choose from Amazon ($59.96), Best Buy ($59.99) or GameStop ($59.99).
The Crew 2 Preview
Following a slight delay earlier in 2018, The Crew 2 is almost here – and it’s back with a bang. The biggest change of all is the introduction of different modes of transport, namely planes and boats, to go alongside the plethora of street vehicles on offer. This completely changes the dynamic of not only races, but the game overall; you can now roam around the huge US-wide map not only by air but also by water, travelling on rivers and other natural water features.
But it’s not just the introduction of new types of vehicle that makes The Crew 2 one of the most interesting racing games coming to market at the moment – it also offers a wide variety of motorsports to participate in, or Disciplines as they’re known in-game.
While many racing games offer one or two different types of motorsport, there are twelve different types of race available in The Crew 2, from Street Racing to Pro Racing, and from Boat Races to Airborne Freestyling, split up into four ‘families’. The variety of races available in the game should keep players both entertained and motivated; you can only access certain disciplines once you’ve acquired enough followers and raised your fame ranking.
Oh, and don’t worry about sticking with a particular discipline, as you can switch between disciplines and families at any time with no penalty to the player.
Raising your follower count is one of the most important things you can do in The Crew 2; it provides access to additional disciplines as well as higher tier races for disciplines you’ve already unlocked. While you can replay almost every race in the game if you want to, you’ll find a varied catalogue of races and stunts that’ll send your follower count rocketing.
As well as winning races, style can also help build your following. By travelling fast, taking dangerous corners and generally making your race as thrilling as possible to watch, you’ll accrue additional followers and gain access to new content more quickly. This encourages you to showboat during races, and to look out for ramps and other shortcuts that may reward you.
Alongside raising your follower count, money is a necessity in The Crew 2. Why? Vehicles, on the whole, are purchased with in-game cash rather than being unlocked when you reach a new fame rank, and with twelve disciplines (all with specific vehicle types) you’ll need to buy a variety of vehicles to climb the ranks and become one of the best drivers in the US.
You’d be mistaken if you thought you’d gain access to the top-end model of each vehicle at purchase though; what you purchase is the ‘base’ model of each vehicle, with each requiring upgrades (split into common, rare and legendary) to really outperform the competition. You gain upgrades randomly by completing races, and while this urges you to race with all the cars that you buy, the RNG nature of the upgrades could cause frustration for some – especially if you’re looking for one specific upgrade.
So, what’s it like racing in The Crew 2? Though we haven’t tried out every available discipline just yet, we were impressed by the overall experience on the road, water and air.
Street racing is a personal favourite of ours, as races take part in iconic locations throughout the US, including the Vegas strip! But rather than being a closed-off event, there are other cars on the roads to avoid, shortcuts to find and ramps to jump from, all making the overall experience much more exhilarating. You’re always on the lookout for opportunities to take advantage of, as well as dodging oncoming traffic and taking tight corners at high speeds.
The handling of cars is great too; it’s not too realistic, but not too arcade-y either. It requires a certain level of skill, but at the same time is forgiving enough that you can take crazy risks that’ll often pay off.
Airborne races are a little different; you have checkpoints that you have to fly through, or, with Freestyle events, it’s all about stunts and how daring you can be, from nose-diving to inverted flying close to the ground and avoiding trees and other obstacles, it allows you to get creative, and with a decent controller setup, it’s not that hard to get used to either. One plus, especially for air and water vehicles, is the tutorial-esque first race that you take part in when initially unlocking a new discipline. It’ll explain the rules, how to play and provides an opportunity to test the water, so to speak.
Boat races are also a lot of fun, though they come with their own set of obstacles. While slipstreaming other cars when street racing can give you a much-needed burst of speed, it’s the opposite when sailing due to the disturbed water caused by the propellers. Little details like that really make you appreciate the level of detail that Ivory Tower provides in The Crew 2.
Most races in The Crew 2 are, admittedly, limited to one type of vehicle, but that’s not the case with Live Xtrem races. These episodic races appear from time to time in The Crew 2, and offer the ability to race on the road, in the air and in the water, all in a single race. These are the thrilling Hollywood Blockbuster-esque races that’ll take you through some of the most iconic places in America, across a number of different cities.
So, while the concept is similar to The Crew, The Crew 2 offers an enhanced racing experience with enough disciplines to satisfy even the pickiest gamer.