The Crew was an ambitious game when it launched in 2014: an always online racer that left players to freely roam five regions of America as they pleased. Whether in single player or competing other online players, it was a racer unlike any other.
The Crew 2 takes that blueprint and goes to town with it, introducing boats, planes and off-road vehicles into the mix. The map and concept are ultimately similar, offering locations across America which can be selected from the map and explored casually, or with other players where races and missions become available.
It's possible to switch between these three vehicle types at any point you please in The Crew 2. And we do mean at any point, as we transformed our plane into a car 1,000 feet up in the air and watched it plummet onto a bridge with hilarious results.
The introduction of these different vehicles makes the The Crew 2 play really differently to the original. Boats go faster when pulling down on the left control stick, offer boost that's integral to use when in a race, and steer rather differently to cars.
Planes are a whole other aspect to master. Pull of loop the loops and barrel rolls as you please, fly through towns and cities at low altitude, even pull of sideways stunts to skim between tight spots and buildings. It's a much tougher mechanic to master.
We played an off-road player vs player race, which was set against the clock. Within the landscape there were jumps and all manner of routes - it's down to the player to pick what they think will be quickest, to beat their opponent.
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Points awarded mean prizes, with vehicles available for purchase. We had a pre-assigned sum to spend on a street racing car in the demo, a rather delicious looking Porsche 911 in luminescent orange.
Of all the demos that Ubisoft presented at E3 2017, we thought the Inception-style "folding of worlds" looked staggering. But that's not solely in the trailer: certain race modes require you to go from car to boat to plane, the fluid transition between each showing the world beyond literally folding over like a book to open your onward path. It's a very cool effect.
If you were into the original game then The Crew 2 makes perfect sense as that upgrade. There's a lot more to master on the vehicles front and a lot of laughs to be hand on the way if our 20 minute demo was anything to go by. The main question is whether after 20 hours of play the game will continue to engage players or not - which was a criticism of the original.
The Crew 2 will be released on PS4, Xbox One and PC in early 2018. You can sign up for an early access beta right now.