The Crew Motorfest (PC) Review

A Gorgeous World with Underwhelming Gameplay

The Crew Motorfest (PC) Review
The Crew Motorfest (PC) Review

The Crew Motorfest

Despite its commendable aspects, Ubisoft’s The Crew franchise has always had a bit of trouble nailing corners. The Crew 2 launched to a mixed response but was able to turn into an enjoyable open-world racer, even if it took years of patches and post-launch content to get there. I’d assumed The Crew Motorfest would be the one to break this cycle and finally deliver on the promise the franchise has held. While it does make many noticeable strides regarding various aspects, it’s also a pretty jarring step back in some ways.

For starters, The Crew Motorfest easily has the best map design and visuals of any game in the series. The Hawaiian island of O’ahu is gorgeously rendered, with idyllic beaches, beautiful greenery, and a great many lovely views. The rich colours on display while driving through the game’s open world are a sight to behold. The map is far more appealing than the giant, fairly bland maps from the previous games. The game’s events have also seen a bit of an overhaul, as many of them are unique and memorable as opposed to feeling interchangeable. Some of the types really required some thinking outside the box.

The Crew Motorfest (Pc) Review

The Crew Motorfest’s principal single-player content is broken into 15 playlists that have between seven and ten events each, and they tend to vary wildly. A playlist might have you compete with two specific cars from various manufacturers, see you flip-flopping between boats and planes, or maybe you’ll have to find your way to the endpoint via clues on postcards instead of being directly shown the way. Much effort was expended making the content feel more special, which definitely goes a long way toward giving The Crew Motorfest more of an identity.

“The Crew Motorfest easily has the best map design and visuals of any game in the series.”

But while the above certainly has its pros, it has some truly mind-boggling cons associated. You’ll be forced to use a specific car the first time you do any event in a playlist. That means that if you focus on completing all the playlists, you won’t be using your own vehicles for any of the races. This is something that The Crew 2 understood incredibly well, but it was thrown out the window anyway. This is compounded by the game’s continued inclusion of its parts system, where players are rewarded with new parts after races that they can use to increase a car’s stats.

Sure, you’ll be using your own vehicles in the open world, but I still feel that this is a giant misstep that almost completely ignores the most basic functionality expected of a game like this. On the other hand, playlists have a more defined progression compared to the laid-back “here, do one of these dozen events” used by The Crew 2 and the Forza Horizon games. Playlist events are unlocked sequentially, so you need to interact with a container which unlocks the first event. Once that’s done, you’ll move on to the second. Once they’re all complete, you return to the container for a new car and a hefty cash reward.

The Crew Motorfest Preview: Festival Vibes Meet Forza Formula

The AI in The Crew Motorfest is technically better than The Crew 2’s was before it was patched, but it’s still weird. The rubberbanding is wild, as rival cars will often pull up several feet behind you and then slow down to keep pace. Other times, it’ll gain an immense burst of speed out of nowhere and rocket ahead of you. Oftentimes, it will then slow down and allow you to easily catch up. On rare occasions, it’ll start going so fast you can’t hope to catch up with it. It needs some fine-tuning.

You can’t just automatically unlock a playlist, though. Many of them require you to purchase specific cars, which are so expensive that focusing on playlists (which is where you’ll probably make most of your cash) will result in you not having enough money to buy cars you actually want. I think having requirements to unlock specific playlists is a good idea, but this was not the way to do that. It’s worsened by the fact that all of the cars in your initial runs of events are loaners anyway, so you need to buy a whole car for nothing. It’s just a bad idea.

Speaking of bad ideas, you know how Ubisoft gamesUbisoft games are frequently accused of having bloat where there’s just too much content? The Crew Motorfest is one of the publisher’s rare recent games that doesn’t fall into that trap. If anything, I’d say that the game’s content is lacking. The playlist events are fun and all, but it doesn’t feel like there’s enough to keep players busy as long as they might be expecting, especially since the side content is so uninteresting.

The Crew Motorfest (Pc) Review

Like The Crew 2, it’s a bunch of speed traps and little challenges that reward you with small amounts of money and experience. These are okay, but it’s hard to care enough about them to seek them out. Well, not the collectible ones that task you with picking up some random crap in certain sections of the map. Another returning feature is the photo challenges, which are notably more interesting here, at least on paper. Before, you just had to take a picture of a specific thing for the most part. Here, you often need to take a picture of a thing with a specific vehicle or type of vehicle or at a specific time of day. The time requirement, however, was another bad choice.

“Considering that the driving is the most important part of a racing game, The Crew Motorfest has a pretty serious problem.”

You’ll mostly see the photo challenges pop up while driving around, and most of the time, it won’t be the right time of day. So you need to make a note to come back to it when it is the right time. I never wanted to do this. Just let me take the damn picture when I’m already nearby, Ubisoft. The object detection in some of these is also kind of messed up. One wanted me to use a modern car to do burn marks on a football field, but the camera wouldn’t recognize the burn marks or the football field while I was in photo mode. It’s also worth mentioning that photo mode doesn’t work at all during solo races, which I found very disappointing.

Speaking of disappointing, the car handling just isn’t up to snuff compared to the competition. Cars tend to slide on surfaces as if they’re ice, regardless of if they’re on asphalt or dirt roads. The driving is just floaty. With assists off, the cars slip and slide all over. With them on, cars become so rigid they turn like boats. The controls just never really felt right to me due to this.  Considering that the driving is the most important part of a racing game, The Crew Motorfest has a pretty serious problem.

The Crew Motorfest (Pc) Review

That’s not to say that I didn’t still enjoy racing around the map. The controls aren’t bad, they’re just not good enough for a game that’s so clearly trying to be an alternative to Forza Horizon. And even if the map itself looks lovely, it feels positively dead. There are no pedestrians. There are no animals. Only a small number of players can exist on the same instance at once, leading to a great many ghost cars representing players from other instances. For all its issues, The Crew 2 didn’t have these problems. Oh, and cars take very little damage. They can fall off a mountain, crash into any number of things, and even the visual wear they take will be minimal. It’s very strange to see in a modern game.

“The Crew Motorfest is decent fun if you can overlook its many problems, but is an absolute swing and a miss if you can’t.”

And then there’s the multiplayer. You can still start and run around in parties with friends, but the only matchmaking I’ve seen is via a big race mode that supports up to 28 players and an out-of-place battle royale demolition derby where players drop onto a map to collect items. If you get incapacitated, you’re out. Want to focus on boat and plane races? Tough. Hope they’re in the online race rotation. There are also rotating weekly events that all fill up an XP bar for the Main Stage, but many of these also require you to buy more expensive cars just for the one mission. I get no respect, I tell ya.

The Crew Motorfest’s progression system is similarly wack. You have three experience bars to level up: one for doing playlists, one for playing online, and one for doing the generic filler crap in the open world. These will reward you with currency, experience boosts, and parts. If you complete all three, you’ll unlock another experience bar. It’s even less exciting than the one in The Crew 2. To be clear, you can certainly have fun with this game, but it gets thoroughly weighed down by a host of bizarre choices and a smattering of what feels like needless free-to-play elements.

The Crew Motorfest Preview: Festival Vibes Meet Forza Formula

But the biggest insult I can’t overlook concerns boats, planes, and offroad vehicles. The Crew 2 had too few boat and plane events as it was, but The Crew Motorsfest has a truly paltry amount. Boats and planes don’t even get their own playlist, they share one. Four boat events, four plane events, and a tiny bit more in other playlists. These vehicles are what truly set your game apart from similar ones, Ubisoft! Let us use them in races! Why wouldn’t you want us to use one of the most unique features? There’s also only really one offroad playlist, but these events pale in comparison to the events in the game’s predecessor, although at least offroading shows up more frequently in other playlists.

The Crew Motorfest is decent fun if you can overlook its many problems, but is an absolute swing and a miss if you can’t. There was a chance here to really make the franchise shine, but instead, the developers bafflingly decided not to play to the franchise’s strengths. What we’re left with is a very pretty, competent game with some fun events that just trips over its own wheels at nearly every single opportunity. Maybe it’ll be like The Crew 2 and become a much better game a few years down the road if we’re lucky.

Final Thoughts

Andrew Farrell
Andrew Farrell

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