Since yesterday I’ve been playing the Closed Beta of The Crew 2 and today I’m here to share some of my opinions on it and conclude what it means for the potential of the full release on June 29th.
First let’s start and talk about the story and characters: from the game’s onset you get to choose your playable character from a few preset models. The Crew 2 features a silent protagonist, meaning all the talking will be done by NPC’s and you’re just along for the ride (pun intended). But it probably comes as no surprise that the plot in these games is rarely one of interest and you shouldn’t expect much more than “Win this race. Prove you are the best!”
Furthermore, I wasn’t a big fan of the character models; it’s very clear most of the attention to detail went into the vehicles.
One thing I found strange, was that you couldn’t rotate the camera around your vehicle in the stores, especially when you’re in the process of buying new ones I found it an odd ommission.
The cars, boats and planes all do look pretty great though and the level of customisation on just the models present in the beta is pretty impressive. You can create your own logo’s and decals or if you’re not into that you can just pick a pre-existing one or make your selection from templates uploaded by other players.
You can also tune your ride with upgrades that you earn by beating challenges or finishing races. Yes, this is a lootbox system and yes, we’ve all collectively agreed we don’t very much care for them. But the truth is that The Crew 2 does a pretty decent job with the progression speed so you should never feel tempted to spend real money. I love how any rewards you get while completing tasks in the world are automatically for the vehicle you’re currently driving. And if you don’t want to wait for them, you can always just spend in-game cash.
The map in The Crew 2 is pretty huge and it was possible to explore all of it in the beta (even though not all events were available) and I was truly impressed with how fast all of it loads. You can zoom out to the world map, and zoom into any location manually, without a single loading screen. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this technique is the one used in Beyond Good & Evil 2.
Restarting an event is super easy and you hardly have to wait. Ever. I can’t express how important that has become to me as a gamer with a family-life: I don’t want to waste one second more staring at a loading screen than is absolutely necessary and The Crew 2 really delivers on this front. It does however come with some consequences: The game’s graphics aren’t always as consistent as you’d expect. It’s not very noticeabel during events, but when freeroaming the open world, there are some really muddy textures and any objects on the horizon haven’t fully loaded their details yet.
The above screenshot was taken from my Xbox One X which draws the obvious comparison to Forza Horizon 3. Sadly, FH3 is playing in a completely different ballpark, visually. I may need to remind you that this is a beta though, so it shouldn’t reflect how the final game looks (there may be 4K assets that aren’t present here).
Luckily the driving is amazingly fun and arcadey (personally I prefer those types of controls to realistic ones) and there is plenty to do so I still feel like The Crew 2 will warrant a purchase from fans of open world racers. Just have a look at this race to get an idea:
What makes The Crew 2 really stand out among other racing games, is the variety. While driving cars obviously received the most attention and you’ll spend most of your time behind the wheel on (or off) the road, you also get to drive boats and pilot planes. Especially the boatracing was something I enjoyed,skipping across tall waves and jumping off a damn.
Just make sure you limit the boat-use to the water only as the vehicle wheel strangely lets you swap to boats on dry land as well.
The airplanes are mostly present for performing arial tricks. I feel this category is the one people will grow tired of the quickest though, as there are only so many loops and rolls you can perform before you’ve seen it all. The arial controls are also a bit of miss for me, but results may vary depending on your own preferences.
I’ve left one of the most amazing aspects of the game for last though: The Crew 2 has one of the best photo modes I’ve seen in a game yet. You can replay your last moments of gameplay in a video mode and rewind/fast forward to the perfect moment and then use the different settings to take some pretty awesome pics. You can easily change the time of day, the weather, presence of other vehicles or even hide your own etc…
The photo mode is even used in the game itself, as you can track down certain photo ops where you have to snap a certain monument or animal. I liked this inclusion as it gave you yet another reason to explore the open world. You might even encounter some lootboxes in hidden locations as well.
And a final “mind=blown” moment was sadly only present in the opening level (that you can’t replay at will for some reason): in the opening segments of the game you swapped your vehicle from car to boat to plane on the fly (again, pun intended) and just before the swap you could see the horizon bend over towards you, very much like the famous scenes in inception. That trailer we saw last E3… was actually advertising an ingame feature!
I hope to see a lot more of this effect but unfortunately the XTREM events (which I think are the ones in which it’s used) were locked away behind a progression stop. I have to admit, the game wasn’t especially on my radar before, but having played with it over the past few days, I’m totally on board with a day one purchase. I just hope they manage to polish the graphics a bit more.
What I liked:
- Loads amazingly fast
- Cars & Boats control very arcadey (a plus for me, may be a strike against it for others)
- A giant map to explore
- A Great photo (video) mode
- Innovative worldfolding effect
- Vehicles look great + plenty of customisation
What I didn’t like:
- The plane controls
- Non-vehicle assets and environments need more graphical polish
- The story is too basic
- It’s not out yet!
In case you still want to join the beta, I’ve got good news for you too, I have a code that should work for at least a thousand more people:
— BloodyGoodReviews (@Bloodyspasm) June 1, 2018