In my mind, there are two types of Ubisoft games. There are the fantastic character-based open world epics (Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, The Division, etc.), and there are the strangely formless extreme sports franchises (Steep, Riders Republic, The Crew). Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all of these games. It’s just that with the sports titles, my brain hitches a little bit as I ponder what to pursue next. There is something loosey-goosey in the structure of these titles that leaves me a little bewildered.
I was expecting to go into The Crew Motorfest and encounter the same issue. I enjoyed messing with The Crew 2, but I kept getting distracted to the point where I never felt like I was making real progress. Should I be doing boat races? Car races? Fly planes? Should I just drive around? Should I interact with other people in the game? I had fun with it for a while, and then wandered off to go do something else.
I’m pleased to say that The Crew Motorfest resolves a lot of those unmoored feelings that I had with The Crew 2. Sure, you can still pursue a bunch of stuff at once, but the structure has been tightened up just enough that when I play, I actually feel like I’m accomplishing something. I understand what to do next, and can make a mental checklist of stuff to pursue.
I hate to make the obvious comparison, but The Crew Motorfest has clearly taken a long, hard look at Forza Horizon and “borrowed” some stuff, which is entirely to the franchise’s benefit. The titular Motorfest is one of those god-level racing events, similar to what is found in Forza, where some majestic entity has cordoned off a gigantic swath of the Earth and opened it up so that lunatic racers can rip across the landscape and destroy everything with impunity.
With unlimited funds and boundless enthusiasm, the powers-that-be stage the Motorfest on the islands of Hawaii, on a tighter and more-easily-parsed map than existed in the previous Crew games. The visuals on display are fantastic, bringing the United States’ Pacific jewel to life with a variety of biomes and settings. Some races go tearing through downtown Honolulu, while others skirt the edges of Hawaii’s volcanoes. Off-road vehicles smash through tropical jungles, and boats slice through crystal-blue waters. It’s a bit of a visual feast.
But the best thing about The Crew Motorfest for players like me who flounder in freedom is the new sense of structure brought to the proceedings. The activities in Motorfest are divided into “playlists”, which are series of curated races built around themes. Each playlist takes around 45 minutes to an hour to play through, and by the end you’ll be sitting on a tidy sum of reward money and a shiny new vehicle.
These playlists can be wildly entertaining. The “Made in Japan” playlist pits you against a team of dedicated Japanese racers, putting the best cars that country has to offer to the test in a series of races and drift events. The playlist that partners with Donut Media puts the player in ridiculous contests, pitting Ferraris against Lamborghinis, for example, or running time trials with a base car vs. one that has been tricked out with high-end mods. Even the boring sounding “Tour of Hawaii” playlist offers a great introduction to the game, and ends up gifting the player with a car, boat, and a plane.
I ended up being extremely grateful for that gift plane, as many of these events take place at various far-flung points around the island, and The Crew Motorfest does expect the player to drive extensive distances to trigger the next event (fast travel doesn’t completely unlock until late in the campaign). I found that hopping into my plane save me a ton of time bouncing across the landscape, as I could just make an airborne beeline to the next checkpoint and crash into it with impunity.
Many of the playlists are hidden behind purchases, meaning that you have to expand your stable of vehicles to access some of the coolest content. Things are a bit more grounded in this department; don’t expect that Forza-level slot machine barrage of vehicles to make their way into your stable. Though the game contains more than 600 vehicles, they are delivered at a rate that makes gaining a new car feel like an event. I’ve been playing for a week, and I have less than 30 vehicles in my garage. I use almost all of them and am pretty happy with my little collection.
I spent my time with The Crew Motorfest hopping between the PS5 and PS4 versions of the game, and obviously, the PS5 version offers a far superior experience. I played in performance mode, and found the game to run extremely smoothly, with nary a hiccup or framerate drop to be found. The DualSense utilization for Motorfest is particularly impressive. I loved the way I could feel the car shifting gears in my hands, and the rumble of the engine while revving at the starting line is always a great way to get hyped for a race. That said, the PS4 version is an acceptable way to experience the game. A little less smooth, a few less bells and whistles, but the overall experience isn’t terribly different.
As usual with this franchise, The Crew Motorfest focuses on a variety of different vehicle types. That said, cars are clearly the focus here, with boats, planes, bikes, and four-wheelers taking more of a “featured role” in the proceedings. There are playlists that focus on these vehicle types, but in previous iterations of The Crew franchise, they felt more like equals than side attractions.
For those that just feel like cruising the streets, there are a ton of side activities, mostly in the form of the genre’s usual speed traps, photo opportunities, etc. Still, the amount of content here is impressive, and is further expanded by the slightly less interesting multiplayer options.
I honestly haven’t felt compelled to spend much time on multiplayer with The Crew Motorfest. There are just a few activities you can jump into, with a couple of ongoing races and one team-based demolition derby which takes place on far too big of a map for my taste. I tried them all out, decided they weren’t for me, and determined that I would check back in after a couple weeks to see if they were switched out for anything that might appeal to me a little more.
More interesting are the weekly activities. These asynchronous contests have players completing a number of activities based around a theme, with special vehicles purchased just to be part of the contest. For example, the current American Pop Culture contest has players bashing around in a Jurassic Park-ish Jeep, and racing tracks in a silver DeLorean. The player picks up points for each activity, with an overall ranking netting them some extra prizes at the end of the contest period. Overall, it’s a fun way to add to your car collection and participate in a few activities that aren’t otherwise available in the regular playlists.
The Crew Motorfest isn’t a groundbreaking racing title, but it is a remarkably well-made one. I’ve been having a blast playing (and replaying) the various playlists and bopping around the island in my different vehicles. This is an open world racing game I can vibe with, which is rare for me. If you’re a fan of the franchise, or you’re a PlayStation fan that has wondered about Forza, this is one to check out. So much to do, and it all feels good.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories. I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS4, PS VR2, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.
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