Ubisoft’s The Crew series hasn’t shied away from being the biggest racer in the industry. If we look back at The Crew 2, what seemed like a game destined to simmer down months after launch, it now features an unrivalled car roster and a large list of content to enjoy. The Crew Motorfest is here to pave the way to the future of the series. With a new gorgeous location, the ability to import your garage from The Crew 2 and a big focus on a live service element, The Crew Motorfest starts out strong but not without issue.
The Crew Motorfest is set on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and right from the start, I was immersed in its beauty. The game is hands-down the best-looking open-world racer on the market and the island itself has been designed to the most immaculate detail. This stems into everything you do. Be it racing through the jungles and mud pools to soaring through the sky in a plane. The Crew Motorfest delivers its setting on a silver platter and eating it up is the best part of the game.
Even dozens of hours into the game, the island managed to bring exciting new tracks wrapped around new gorgeous locations. Tracks are mostly designed in a lap format or a percentage loop where I would either repeat the same track over and over or start at one end and get to the next. This isn’t anything new when it comes to racing but the two variants added some nice variety across the themed events.
Of course, The Crew Motorfest also includes other types of events. Whether it is drifting through the nighttime streets to rack up points or drag racing across a strip of the map at ridiculous speeds. Every now and then I was also greeted by a timed event where I had to reach a number of checkpoints before my time ran out and each new pass granted me a few extra seconds.
But you would think with the ability of cars, planes and boats there would be more. Sadly, there really isn’t. The Crew Motorfest might have other modes of transport but the game’s main focus is on cars. Everything else takes the backseat. Sure, there are a few playlists themed around boats and planes but they feel uninspired and if anything, like an afterthought in comparison to the effort put into the car events.
That isn’t really a big deal given how incredible The Crew Motorfest racing playlists are in the first place. The game relies on these playlists to deliver new events to the player. They are all themed around something unique. While at first, I thought these playlists would just lock me into a specific car, I was surprised to see how detailed each one was.
Hawaii Scenic Route, which is what I started in, focused on the island’s breathtaking locations as I raced across roads, mud, down hills and so much more. It really was the perfect introduction to the game and the world. I then jumped into the Japanese Street Racing playlist and the game transformed into this sort of Need for Speed supercar experience where the streets featured lanterns, dragons, temples and other decorations to help deliver this feeling of Japan.
There were neon lights everywhere, the music drastically changed, my cars were all Japanese sports cars and the entire experience felt like a brand-new game. Someone actually walked into the room while I was racing one of these tracks. I asked them where they thought the game was set and they guessed all the Asian countries on the planet. I told them Hawaii and they could not believe it. Ubisoft did an incredible job transforming the island.
The same goes for other playlists. While some aren’t as strong as others, there’s definitely no lack of variety here. Now while I have a lot of praise for this progression system, it also has loads of issues. You can only select one active playlist at a time. This meant I was forced to complete 12 tracks and events before being able to unlock a new playlist.
To make matters worse, some playlists forced me to buy cars I didn’t want either. One playlist was locked until I spent 900,000 credits on a Lamborghini. That is a lot of credit to ask a player to spend in order to just play the game.
There’s also the seasonal playlists which change every few days. I only managed to unlock these a few days after launch and the first two were already expired. This meant I could no longer participate in the playlist. I also don’t like the idea of being pressured into playing these playlists in fear they expire and I miss out. This borderlines the whole “second job” agenda which live service games force on you.
So for me, the game is basically the launch playlist experience and then I am done. I just don’t have the time and patience to return every few days to the game in hopes I get a chance to participate in the ongoing events before they expire. I get why Ubisoft did this, but it doesn’t fit into everyone’s gaming lifestyle. Definitely not mine. I want to play at my pace and when I can. Not when Ubisoft tells me it’s okay.
Apart from the playlist issues, The Crew Motorfest starts off slowly. As I completed playlists, I unlocked more side activities in the world. These were mainly tedious tasks such as finding murals or taking photos. They are also themed around these completed playlists and reward you with extra goodies for “100%” the challenges.
The island is also packed with the usual open-world sandbox events. Speed Cameras are great to test the speed of your car. There’s an obstacle course mini-event here and there. Planes can fly under the bridges and low pillars for points. There’s also a cool photo challenge where I had to use specific vehicles at a specific time of day at a specific location to earn the objective.
The previous upgrade system returns to The Crew Motorfest too. Winning rewards car parts which come in the form of icons with different rarities and power. It is a dumb and simple system. You just equip whatever gives you better stats and move on. I played the game for a few hours before I even thought about diving into this system though. Mainly because the upgrades don’t affect the loaned vehicles given to you during playlists.
You spend most of the time doing these events and you never get to race in your car. All these stat changes are restricted to your garage only meaning you’ll only feel the difference when racing in the world and online.
When I did use my car, I did feel the difference between an upgraded vehicle and my starting point. My cars felt easier to control and my speed was noticeably faster. But again, there’s no real need to invest in this unless you’re dedicated to the gameplay outside of the playlists.
Racing does feel good in The Crew Motorfest. I won’t say cars pack the same level of refinement and feeling as say, Forza Horizon 5 and Gran Turismo. However, when you’re in a sports car speeding through the city, I had to adapt to that and the car held up well. The same goes for offroad cars. I especially enjoyed the level of detail found in car sounds. Engines rumble as nitro kicks. Tyres screech across the tar. It is wonderful. Again, don’t expect a one-to-one experience here compared to real-life models but these cars look and sound fantastic.
Of course, The Crew Motorfest is littered with in-game purchases. Essentially, whatever you can buy for in-game cash you can buy with real money. It is a horrid system and allows for pay-to-win mechanics but hey, it is 2023 and a Ubisoft game so what else do we expect?
Overall, The Crew Motorfest is a fun racer. The playlist feature is its strongest feature and there’s a lot of enjoyment here. I have my own feelings on the timed event content but if you’re into that then you’ll enjoy it. I think the island is the game’s best feature as it captures the racing and makes everything feel incredible. We will likely see The Crew Motorfest grow bigger and better in the months to come.
This The Crew Motorfest review is based on a code sent to us by Ubisoft. The game is now available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC starting at R1,299.
The Crew Motorfest
The Crew Motorfest is Ubisoft’s best racer and its world is unrivalled. Playlists keep the game exciting but there are definitely some questionable progression hurdles that hold the game back.