HANDS-ON PREVIEW: The Crew 2 & 30 Minutes of Gameplay
Last month, at special media event in London, we got to spend some quality hands-on time with Ivory Tower’s ‘The Crew 2’, the upcoming sequel to their 2014 title, The Crew. Getting to test out both single-player and multiplayer mode in our 4 hour session along with having a chat with Ivory Tower’s Creative Director, Stephane “Fergus” Beley, we’ve learnt a lot about what The Crew 2 has to offer.
Single Player Experience
After getting a brief intro from Player Experience Director, Julien Hummer, we jumped straight into some single player goodness. Taking from its predecessor setting, The Crew 2 is set in a digital America where you’re free to roam from San Francisco to New York using a variety of different transport modes.
We started our single player experience with some intense racing through the streets of New York in a beautiful Porsche when, all of a sudden, the entire world in front of us rolled up on its side like something out of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’, this transition lead us into the driving seat of a superfast speed boat as we hurtled up the East River. Just as we were getting the feel of the water and the boat’s movement, we transitioned yet again into a little stunt plane to carry out the third and final part of our intro race.
Straight off the bat, we noticed the improved handling of the cars and the new boat and plane driving mechanics also felt extremely tight and precise. Visually, the game has also gained a noticeable improvement with impressive lighting, reflections and draw distances at play. We were playing BETA code of the upcoming title on Xbox One X consoles and everything looked extremely crisp and clean.
After this initial first race, we were then introduced to the entire map of the US which allowed us to choose from 4 varied follow on race types. There was everything from more speedboat racing, all terrain style tracks and claustrophobia-enducing races through San Francisco.
We must admit, we were a little daunted by the sheer scale of what was on offer and not really sure where to go first but once we got a few races under our belt and messed around in the menus a bit, we were a lot more comfortable getting stuck into all the different types of races.
About half way through our gameplay session, we got the chance to try out some of the multiplayer options in the game against some of Ivory Tower’s finest. We were definitely impressed at how seamless the set up was for each of the multiplayer races we took part in and this smoothness definitely works in favour of those looking to quickly hop in for some multiplayer action. During the races we tested, we got to race speedboats around the canals of Las Vegas’s various hotels along with Moto Cross racing across the roofs of Chicago.
Overall, we were very impressed by the multiplayer offering of the Crew 2 and can see it growing just as dedicated a following as the 13 million strong still playing the original game.
After our play session, we got the chance to sit down with Stephane “Fergus” Beley, Creative Director of The Crew 2 to get his thoughts on what makes this title better than its predecessor.
What did you learn from working on The Crew that you made sure to implement into The Crew 2?
We learnt that people really enjoyed the variety of race modes and cars available and it really encouraged the team to ensure there was as diverse a selection of vehicles as possible in The Crew 2.
We also decided to remove the darker tones in the narrative that were present in the original and to create a more fun and joyful world for the players to experience.
Were there other titles that inspired you when you were developing this title?
I’m a big fan of MMORPG titles so this is something we wanted to implement in some way into the game. I also play a lot of racing titles but want to make sure I offer my own take or proposal on the racing games industry.
Like in The Crew, The Crew 2 is continuing to offer players to drive around in some of the most iconic vehicles in the world, was it difficult to get the manufacturers to allow you to use their vehicles in the game?
It was actually much easier this time around as we have the success of the original game to approach the various manufacturers with so they were a lot more willing to allow us to use their vehicles in this title.
Audi actually agreed straight away when we asked them as they saw the success of the first game so that was great to see from one of the world’s leading car manufacturers.
How important was player feedback from the original game when you were developing The Crew 2?
Extremely important as it helps us form the experience we want to achieve when starting out on day one of development. We’ve done 20 patches for The Crew and when working on the sequel, this was extremely helpful in knowing which way the vision should go.
From day one, we wanted to get the players involved in the creation of the game so, 10 months before the release of the game, we created a private test server where we allowed 3000 players to try out the game which allowed us to get plenty of feedback on how the development of the game and what was and wasn’t working.
Following on from the event, we were also told about the technical specs we can expect from The Crew 2:
We are taking full advantage of the hardware horsepower to deliver the best experience possible on all platforms.
On consoles, The Crew 2 will use dynamic resolution rendering, so the resolution will adapt to ensure a smooth framerate and the best image possible in all situations – in most cases, it’s totally invisible for the player. The targeted framerate is 30 frames per second.
On PC, the resolution, the framerate and the level of details will depend on how powerful the machine running the game is. The cap will be 60 FPS.
THE CREW 2 will support 4K display and provide enhanced graphics on both PS4 Pro and Xbox One X platforms.
After all of this, we’re really excited with the path Ivory Tower is taking their franchise. They appear to have learned a lot from the first game and with feedback from testers of the sequel throughout its development, it looks like The Crew 2 is going to be a fan-favourite right from the get-go.
Ubisoft has also announced that a closed beta for the game will be available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC and will run from May 31 until June 4.
This closed beta will give players the chance to try out the first level of the progression system in The Crew 2 and will offer races in all four of the game’s disciplines.
You can head over to the official The Crew 2 website to sign up right now.