E3 2017: The Crew 2 Shifted Our Expectations (Hands-on)

June 22, 2017

Honestly, The Crew 2 was one of the biggest surprises for us when it was first announced and then revealed at E3 2017. When The Crew originally released back in 2014 we were relatively unimpressed with the game, but credit to Ivory Tower Studios – their Wild Ride expansion not only added more content to the game, it gave the visuals a makeover to make it look a lot more appealing. Adam got the chance to go hands on with the game at E3 and was surprised at just how much The Crew 2 seems to have improved over the original game.

Unlike The Crew, The Crew 2 won’t need any updates to its visuals, as the game looks fantastic right out of the box. The visuals are bright, detailed and a huge upgrade over the original game. They also have a weird Inception­-styled mechanic going on, where the game world bends around at right angles. It’s not clear what this is meant to indicate or express, beyond being a neat visual trick. It doesn’t affect the gameplay at all and only occurs in the E3 demo at a couple of set intervals when vehicle changes are forced. We don’t know if this will be a permanent transition when changing vehicles in the game and we’re unsure if you will be able to manually trigger it whenever you want.

The demo itself was brief, but was definitely fun. It started off with you in a car racing through New York against other drivers. You’re able to crash into objects in the streets as you drift around corners and narrowly avoid pedestrians. There were also more game-like elements added to the city to compliment it, like ramps to get up to roofs and then get some air when coming down the other side. After a short while of dodging pedestrians, hitting anything else we could see and jumping off ramps, the game-world shifted to dump you into a different track, racing a boat. Instead of dodging pedestrians, now we had to battle wave mechanics while trying to make it ahead. Across these and all other vehicle changes, it was interesting to see that the controls all stayed mostly the same – even the nitrous boost.

One final shift placed us into the cockpit of a plane, as we commenced an aerial race. Each plane emits a smoke trail, so you can keep track of where the other racers are at all time. You’ve got enough freedom of movement to barrel roll, fly upside down and more, but you have to be careful to stay on the track and avoid crashing into buildings. As you might imagine, crashing into buildings severely hampers your chances of winning. All of these races, and more in the final game, are part of a ‘Motor Nation EXTREM’ racing competition that you’re taking part in, with colourful overlays and visuals reminding you of this as you race.

Overall, The Crew 2 seems like it’s taking notes from titles like Forza Horizon and Burnout, placing the emphasis on fun, freedom and plenty of options, as well as being a very impressive and appealing visual package. It was one of the biggest surprises for us on the show floor and we can honestly say that we’re looking forward to the full game, especially if it retains the scope of the first.