Also On: Xbox Series X, PS4, Xbox One, PC
Developer: Ubisoft Ivory Tower
If you’re going to try and emulate an open-world arcade racing game, Forza Horizon is definitely the game to aim for. That’s exactly what The Crew Motorfest from Ubisoft appears to have settled on as well, as it’s hard to not notice that the third entry in The Crew franchise is definitely similar in vibe and appearance to Microsoft’s racing giant. That said, as someone who is a fan of Forza Horizon and didn’t care a great deal for The Crew 2, this latest entry in The Crew certainly works for me. I’ve had a lot of fun driving around the island of O’hau, and the Hawaii setting is a great backdrop for all the racing this game contains. While maybe not the most original racer on the market, this approach for The Crew Motorfest makes for a better experience overall, and helps fill the void for AAA arcade racers this year.
While a lot of elements in The Crew Motorfest feel familiar to other racing titles, that doesn’t mean that Ubisoft has completely stripped out things specific to prior entries in The Crew. The biggest being the inclusion of sea and air vehicles, in addition to all the regular street, dirt, and tracking racing you’ll have to engage in. I’d say the emphasis on sea and air events is lessened here for sure, but you still have the option to take to the skies, race down the open road, or plop down in the nearest body of water whenever you want to, and there are multiple events and side activities to participant in across all of these options.
One of the things that I’ve dug the most in The Crew Motorfest is the way progression works, which is through the Playlist system. When you boot up the game you can enter into the Playlists, which helpfully organizes events by various categories, breaking down races, challenges, goals, and so on. You can swap between a few of these just while driving around via the navigator system, but you can also easily swap between playlists at any time through the main menu. This is your primary way of navigating through the game, and a completed playlist will often unlock additional content. Just starting a new playlist will also unlock new points of interest across the map, giving you side activities like speed traps to engage in. Some playlists will require you to purchase a particular vehicle type, but the cost associated with the entry vehicle usually isn’t that high, so you’ll likely have the necessary funds just from completing other events.
The Crew Motorfest also does a solid job of not overwhelming the player with map icon spam. Most of the additional content challenges won’t pop up until you’ve activated a playlist, which helps ease you into side activities instead of just dumping a lot on you all at once. There are some additional collectibles to find scattered about the map, along with some hidden treasure boxes you can uncover, but by and large the emphasis in The Crew Motorsport is centered around the actual events, which felt like a breath of fresh air compared to other open world racers.
Multiplayer is also pretty solid in The Crew Motorfest, which includes a few modes to keep you occupied beyond the main game. One mode is a demolition battle royale, featuring 32 racers on a map that gets restricted as time passes, with random power-ups scattered about to help you slam into and destroy other racers. Another is a multi-tier race that has you select vehicles from three different categories, and as the race progresses your vehicles will switch automatically, which works really well on the fly. I’ve not had any considerable issues with multiplayer at all since launch, stable connections appear to be the norm and finding full games doesn’t take much time at all.
Overall, I’d say The Crew Motorfest is a big step up from the prior games in the series, and gives some hope for additional variety in open world racers in the future. Granted, it sticks pretty close to the same formula that Forza Horizon has, but there’s enough differences between the two to make this still feel like a worthwhile use of your time. It’s a gorgeous game in motion as well, which doesn’t hurt. As far as complaints go, mine are pretty minor, in that I don’t care for the limited fast travel system that’s only tied to the intro areas for each Playlist, and I wish the server didn’t time out as quickly as it does when you go idle. Outside of that, I’ve really dug Ubisoft’s latest attempt at an open-world racer, and I think you will too.
Note: Ubisoft provided us with a The Crew Motorfest PS5 code for review purposes.