Ubisoft recently held a preview event for media and content creators to experience the next iteration of its open-world arcade racing franchise The Crew. I was fortunate to attend this new look at The Crew Motorfest on behalf of Gaming Nexus, and as soon as I left the event, I was ready to go back to this gorgeous rendition of Hawaii that Ubisoft has created. From the nearly four hours I was able to spend with the game, I can tell you that it is shaping up to be an arcade racer’s paradise.
As someone who has dabbled in the previous two games, one of the coolest aspects of the series is its sandbox nature that lets you engage in multiple different racing disciplines, and even swap between them on the fly. Thankfully, The Crew Motorfest carries over that heritage, but now in an open world location that feels worthy of the franchise’s ambition.
After some brief housekeeping, my Ubisoft rep cut me loose in Motorfest’s tropical paradise, and I was mostly free to explore and do as I please. They did recommend we first check out the Playlist feature, and specifically a Porsche-themed playlist that saw me behind the wheel of various iconic rides from the brand. The Playlist feature is designed to provide these curated experiences from subgroups of car culture, which is incredibly vast.
In addition to the Porsche playlist, there were a few others available for the demo, including a Japanese-themed one, and another that let me take a guided tour around the island while a narrator discussed cultural landmarks, and just culture in general. I enjoyed this tour-focused playlist the most, because it let me soak up the beautiful world and drive some cool rides. At one point, I was driving some sort of old van with surfboards strapped to the top – it was awesome. The island is littered with landmarks and locales that are inspired by real life locations in Hawaii, and again, its flat out beautiful. The preview event was done remotely (streaming), running on an NVIDIA 3090 rig at a locked 60 frames-per-second. I must admit that my internet is not the greatest for streaming, but even so, I walked away thoroughly impressed with how the game looked and performed.
The racing itself feels good, presenting a real sense of speed, depending on the vehicle. Ubisoft provided us $10 million (of fake money, relax) to purchase whatever vehicles our heart desired for the demo. Naturally, I purchased a Bugatti Chiron, and let me tell you – that thing flies. So much so that I was having a hard time keeping it on the road. Luckily, the Rewind feature is back for Motorfest, letting you literally rewind time for up to 15 seconds to give yourself a do-over. I utilized it a lot, and I’m sure my Ubisoft rep that was along for the entire ride got a good laugh out of my poor driving skills. I eventually had to tweak the settings and turn on a bit of traction control and other assists, but I mention this because the handling did feel quite loose.
Of course, every vehicle can be upgraded with better components that increase its stats, including handling, so that could help a lot in the final product. It’s also likely that Ubisoft still has some tuning to do before the game’s release in September. There was also a weird difficulty spike with the AI opponents that I experienced. On level one, I would crush them by several seconds nearly every race. I was winning so bad, in fact, that the game kept prompting me to increase the difficulty. I obliged, but thereafter proceeded to come in dead last, forcing me to drop the difficulty back down. Hopefully this is something Ubisoft will be looking at over the next few months as well.
If you’ve played any prior The Crew game, you’ll know that the vehicle catalog is vast, featuring cars, motorcycles, boats, planes, trucks, and off-road apparatuses – a trend that continues with Motorfest. In fact, I was so certain that I had access to the entire collection of launch vehicles for the preview, because of its sheer size, that I asked my Ubisoft rep if that was indeed the case. They replied with a quite matter of fact “Oh, no!”. In other words, prepare for a huge collection of rides in Motorfest, especially as the game evolves after launch.
Speaking of post-launch, my preview ended with a look at an area called Main Stage – a hub for live-service content that will be updated weekly after launch. Each week will feature three timelines, or XP bars essentially, that let you complete events in various categories to fill those timelines. The more events you complete, the more XP you earn, and the more rewards you unlock. Rewards range from cosmetics to new vehicles, and utilizing vehicles that fit the theme of the week’s event will grant an XP boost to help you reach those unlocks even faster.
They say time flies when you’re having fun; it also flies when you’re doing over 200 miles per hour in a Bugatti across Hawaii. Just like that my time with The Crew Motorfest was over, but I’m looking forward to heading back to its breathtaking world when it launches on September 14th. The best looking locale in the franchise’s history is worth the price of admission alone, but combined with its wealth of vehicles and racing disciplines, The Crew Motorfest is showing signs of being an open-world racing dream come true.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Jason has been writing for Gaming Nexus since 2022. Some of his favorite genres of games are strategy, management, city-builders, sports, RPGs, shooters, and simulators. His favorite game of all-time is Red Dead Redemption 2, logging nearly 1,000 hours in Rockstar's Wild West epic. Jason's first video game system was the NES, but the original PlayStation is his first true video game love affair. Once upon a time, he was the co-host of a PlayStation news podcast, as well as a basketball podcast.View Profile