Aloha! The Crew has come a long way in its eight year history. What started as one of the most ambitious open-world racing games flourished into the sequel The Crew 2, adding motorsports competition and refining many aspects of the game to make it more accessible and flexible for the player. What we’ve seen from The Crew 2 is that Ubisoft has a passion to maintain a constant flow of new content for the game, and now the torch has passed to The Crew Motorfest. Enter Oahu, Hawaii. Bring your cars, boats, planes and bikes, welcome to Motorfest.
Now, you may be saying, ‘Hold on one second, that sounds an awful lot like Forza Horizon.’ You’re not wrong. Motorfest is basically the same as Forza’s Horizon Festival, in that it’s a party hub where you can link up with other drivers and find new events, but the game setup is more reminiscent of its predecessors. From the Main Stage of the motorfest, you can jump into playlists such as American Muscle, 911 Legacy, Hawaii Scenic Tour, Electric Odyssey and even a couple of playlists featuring influencers that we’ll get to later.
The coolest feature of The Crew Motorfest (and all The Crew games) is of course the Fast Fav feature which allows players to switch between land, sea and air vehicles seamlessly and instantly at the push of just two buttons. This obviously allows you to traverse the map in very unique ways and also means you can get a perfect photo of a boat flying through the air or a plane manoeuvring between low-altitude objects. There are some playlist races that will switch vehicles during it, but unfortunately we found that there are still no feats that require the use of the Fast Fav feature, which we think is a missed opportunity considering the game has Red Bull licencing. There also weren’t any moments where the entire map bent over itself a la Inception, which we found absolutely jaw dropping in the original game and could have worked really well with the volcanoes and oceans of Hawaii.
Another cool part of The Crew Motorfest is just how customisable the game is right from the get-go. Accessibility and flexibility were on the developers agenda while developing The Crew Motorfest, and it soon becomes clear that you can tweak every feature of the game to your desire. Don’t like the sick beats? Shake Switch it off. Don’t like nitro boost? Switch it off! Even the game’s photo mode has a lot of customisations, with the ability to rewind a few seconds to get that perfect snap, though we did notice some issues with the game hanging when taking a photo, often until pressing the Xbox Home button to return to the dashboard, then reloading the game using the console’s Quick Resume feature.
Speaking of Quick Resume and being generally idle in The Crew Motorfest, disappointingly, the game’s ‘always online’ requirements means that you’ll be kicked from Ubisoft’s server if you’re idle for too long. Given the game takes about a minute to load up, we found it quite frustrating to jump in and out of while trying to review it, and depending on the way you game, you may too. Considering we’ve just come from Starfield where you can leave it for days and instantly jump back in, perhaps Ubisoft needs to figure out a way to keep the player in their own open-world single player experience without having to be connected to their servers. It’s not like the leaderboards are ever fairly maintained anyway.
Racing is the core mechanism of The Crew Motorfest, and we’re pleased to report there is no shortage of race options. Through the Main Stage, players can complete the playlists, revisit them, compete against other drivers in events that need no explanation like Summit, Demolition Royale, Grand Race and Custom Show, and for end-game racers there’s a Legend mode where you can race against other experienced drivers to engrave your name for posterity. The online features in The Crew Motorfest were fairly seamless, and the game seems to have a bubbling community at launch, but the ‘drivatars’ or whatever they’re called in this franchise were a bit over-the-top and more distracting than entertaining. The fact that there was always a random vehicle that would crash into a playlist event one second before we did caused more eye-rolls than any racing game should.
Other than races, The Crew Motorfest has land feats including speedtraps, slaloms and escapes, air feats including aerobatics, low altitude and bull eyes, and marine feats including buoy gathering. The more playlists you play, the more feats that unlock so we found it’s better to race a lot first, picking up treasure along the way, and then completing the feats later unless they’re on the way to your next race event, and here’s why.
For the first ten hours or so of adventuring through the tropical paradise of The Crew Motorfest, fast travel is limited to playlists that you have signed up for. While frustrating for those that want to explore at their heart’s content, we found that this system actually helped us properly explore (although switching to a plane is always a convenient option). Once a certain amount of playlists have been completed, you can then fast travel to any event or feat, and the fast travel system is actually a real treat. If you haven’t played a The Crew game before, it has one of the best open-world real-time maps in any game. You can move around the map and see live traffic as you go, and then at a touch of the button your vehicle instantly spawns exactly where you tell it to.
The Crew Motorfest has a few different currencies but the main two are Bucks and the premium Bucks purchasable with real money (or a once-off purchase of 10,000 premium Bucks via Ubisoft Connect). Both of these currencies can be used to purchase vehicles, and Ubisoft has unfortunately done the maths on this one. In all honesty, it doesn’t take too long to earn bucks through events, feats and treasure hunts to buy the specific vehicle that you have your eye on, but if you’re wanting to purchase every vehicle in the game then your mileage might vary greatly. From the previous two games and Motorfest, we’ve found that you can get away with only having a couple of vehicles in each class type, so earning millions and millions of Bucks isn’t really necessary, and if anything, saving your money for future release vehicles is a better option.
Just like in real life, words can’t describe the beauty of Ubisoft’s Oahu. There’s something about the positioning of the camera over the car as it cruises slowly through the lanes, roads, highways and off the beaten track in this tropical paradise that sets it apart from other racing games. With the usual 60fps performance and 30fps quality modes, the eight unique biomes bless the island including rain forests, beaches, mountains, urban areas, fields, dry zones, volcano slopes and meadows, each with their own racing conditions to master. Soon enough, another racing game will take the crown (we’re hoping it’s a game that rhymes with ‘molar frown’) but for now, when it comes to pristine graphics and gorgeous cars, The Crew Motorfest sits on top in 2023.
The Crew Motorfest has an excellent range of voice acting (and real acting!) throughout each of the playlists with influencers like Supercar Blondie and Donut Media talking you through their life stories. While the racing and vehicles are great, the stories are less than inspiring and often left us as sleepy as the Oahu volcanoes. It felt like a swing and a miss by Ubisoft in what is meant to be a fast-paced game slowed down by forgettable fables of fast cars and how totally awesome they all are. Yes, we know. The Lotus Evija is rare, but not as rare as the Lamborghini Sián, and yada yada yada we’re never going to get our hands on them. Just let us race in peace! Furthermore, the soundtrack is very hit and miss, with monotonous repetitive tunes blaring over the top of what should be a nirvana of wildlife blending with the roar of exotic engines. Fortunately, all aspects of the audio have their own volume control in the settings.
Lastly, The Crew Motorfest has full wheel support at launch across the big three brands (Fanatec, Thrustmaster and Logitech). We tested it out using our Thrustmaster TX wheels and found the plug & play to work well, but Ubisoft has also implemented a dynamic wheel range, automatically applying to your wheel for a 1:1 racing experience, no matter what vehicle you’re in. The only issue with using a wheel in Motorfest is that it’s a bit hard to fly with one, so you want to be committed to land or sea vehicles if you’re going to connect your wheel.
After all is said and done, The Crew Motorfest feels like a very elaborate stand-alone expansion of The Crew 2, and that’s not a bad thing. Yes, we’ve had an open-world racing game set in Oahu before (with its own sequel also set in Oahu), and no, there are not a lot of new features in The Crew Motorfest, but there is more than enough content to satisfy open-world racing fans, and weekly playlists promised in the Year 1 Pass which now comes free with every version of the game. Ubisoft has so far revealed that the month of September will be filled with American events, while October will focus on Japanese events and November will cover European events, with a planned Hoonigan expansion series ready to go by the holiday season. With this new smaller, more refined The Crew experience, we expect Ubisoft will be bringing us games from the franchise more regularly, with a Motorfest in Japan teased during the Japan street-racing story.
Rocket Chainsaw reviewed The Crew Motorfest on Xbox Series X with review provided by the publisher. The Crew Motorfest is also available on Windows PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and select streaming services. For more information, head to the official website. Mahalo!
- Awesome graphics in a gorgeous setting
- Plenty to do, plenty to see
- Great range of old, new and concept vehicles including the full library from The Crew 2.
- Always-online can be super frustrating if you can only do a couple of races at a time
- Few teething issues at launch such as photo mode hangs
- Some of the playlist narrators are just annoying.