The Crew Motorfest Hands-On - A Familiar Racer

The Crew Motorfest Hands-On – So Far a Familiar Racer

Last week, I got to spend 30-minutes playing Ubisoft’s The Crew Motorfest, specifically the introductory sequence that functions as a gameplay montage of sorts, showing off all the different racing disciplines. This was followed by a quick look at the opening and closing events from a “playlist” of my choice.

Watch our Hands-On Gameplay from The Crew Motorfest

At a glance, The Crew Motorfest feels like an evolution of The Crew 2 – it even feels more grounded. It has clearly been inspired by the likes of  Forza Horizon and DIRT 5 and has a refreshing new setting based on a Hawaiian theme. Ubisoft clearly wants this to be a sequel of some sort from The Crew 2 fans and there’s an option to import your garage from that game – well, assuming those vehicles feature in The Crew Motorfest.

The premise is that you’re part of a group of young and upcoming motorsport enthusiasts – for whom an active social media profile. You’re now attending this “motorfest” on a Hawaiian Island. Although there are some established tracks, the entire island is your playground for street races, off-road point-to-point challenges, and scenic cruises in vintage vehicles.

The Crew Motorfest Hands-On - A Familiar Racer

I’ll admit, I find the industry fixation with protagonists that are young, talented social media influencers with unlimited free time and finances increasingly weird. We found the dialogue mildly entertaining in the most cringe-worthy way, so we just hope there are options to drop into quick-play events, be that single-player or multiplayer, without having to constantly spam the “skip cinematic” button.

Looking past the narrative, The Crew Motorfest has a lot of content on offer and is smartly structured to give everyone the chance to find a racing discipline that suits their driving style. Each “playlist” offers a series of races, escalating in difficulty or complexity, themed around familiar motorsport events.

The Crew Motorfest Hands-On - A Familiar Racer

The first I sampled was “Made in Japan”, which draped urban environments in vibrant neon decorations and lights, with a focus on modern and electric consumer sportscars, straight-line speed, and drifting around corners to maintain your lead.

“Off-Roading Addict” functioned as a point-to-point rally, with little regard for established routes, plenty of uneven and rough terrain, and wild jumps.

The Crew Motorfest Hands-On - A Familiar Racer

The simply-named “Motorsport” playlist is your traditional Grand Prix-style track event that demands careful racing lines and overtaking on straights. It also adds a risk-reward tactical layer as you pick the best time for pit stops to offset deteriorating tyres that reduce your traction.

“Vintage Garage” is your opportunity to cruise around the island at an ever-so-slightly slower pace in iconic vehicles from the 1980s, taking in the sights as you go and dealing with the lack of modern features like traction control and assisted breaking.

The Crew Motorfest Hands-On - A Familiar Racer

Finally, there’s the self-explanatory “Automobili Lamborghini” which is a celebration of the iconic car brand, also with a focus on cruising around on the highways – only at much, much higher speeds!

Now I didn’t get enough time to get an appreciation of the depth on offer in each racing discipline, but the core racing felt responsive. We did play the demo on the default racing presets, more forgiving than a pure simulation title.

The Crew Motorfest Hands-On - A Familiar Racer

What we enjoyed most was how each playlist offered a different focus. Made in Japan, Motorsports, and Automobili Lamborghini focus primarily on pure speed and maintaining racing lines; Off-Roading Addict and Vintage Garage have a greater focus on finding optimal routes and dealing with reduced traction.

Having enjoyed the lower-speed events that let me appreciate both the intricate vehicle designs and detailed backdrop, I picked the Vintage Garage playlist for my final stint. I got the impression each playlist will have a light narrative layer, with a supporting cast member providing details on the history of the racing discipline, the vehicles involved, and the Hawaiian setting itself. One event even tasked me with keeping an eye out for landmarks to plan my route, which proved a great way to take in the scenery but tough to pull off at high speeds.

 

The Crew Motorfest Hands-On - A Familiar Racer As a streamed event, it’s hard to say too much about the technical state of The Crew Motorfest but the shift to a smaller but diverse location feels smart. There’s still plenty to see – from modern cities to sprawling coastlines, tropical jungles, and volcanic slopes – while the smaller scale allows for environments dense in detail and more believable in scale. Of course, the cars on display looked incredibly detailed and the environment felt dynamic, with changing times of day and variable weather conditions, coupled with bushes, trees, power poles, and even low walls crumbling under impacts.

Racing game soundtracks have always been an essential part of the experience – especially in open-world settings where you can cruise around between events. Based on what little I played, I can’t comment on its dynamic nature but the playlist for each “playlist” seemed perfectly matched. Not only is the choice of music diverse enough to complement each driving discipline, but there are also several classic tracks that correspond to the age of the vintage vehicles.

The Crew Motorfest Hands-On - A Familiar Racer

So based on the tiny slice of a massive game, The Crew Motorfest has solid driving mechanics, plenty of content to cater to all tastes, and a solid presentation that will hopefully scale across both current- and last-gen platforms.

However, the idea of structuring a racing game around motorfests is no longer novel so I’m curious to see how it compares itself when it comes to progression mechanics, the user interface, player motivation, and, of course, the implementation of games-as-a-service content.

The Crew Motorfest Hands-On - A Familiar Racer

Will the narrative elements be integrated into some social media presence mechanic? Can you still have a fulfilling experience if you enjoy just one or two of the playlist disciplines? Are you simply working through menu-driven playlists to slowly increase completion percentages? Is multiplayer the core focus and, if so, will Ubisoft provide a decent stat-tracking feature or maybe real-world social media integration for people to show off their rides and completion times? Will it have some Gran Turismo-style overview and career mode to provide some guidance?

For now, it looks promising but we’ll just have to wait and see what Ubisoft shares in the coming months.

The Crew Motorfest is set to launch on 14 September for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

Marco is the owner and founder of GLITCHED. South Africa’s largest gaming and pop culture website. GLITCHED quickly established itself with tech and gaming enthusiasts with on-point opinions, quick coverage of breaking events and unbiased reviews across its website, social platforms, and YouTube channel.

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