This is America
Ubisoft returns to take another crack at creating a fully explorable open-world U.S.A. with The Crew 2. This time around however, you won’t always be keeping your wheels (or lack thereof) on the ground. Take to the skies or the ocean in addition to the asphalt streets and dusty off-road trails in this racing sequel.
All in the family
The Crew 2 features a fairly loose, non-linear storyline. Your goal as an up-and-coming fame seeker is to achieve status as an icon by competing in different events across the country. The overarching narrative is shallow and the dialogue itself a bit mundane at best. Nevertheless it ties everything together well enough to explain your frequent roving across the country.
Events are all categorized within four “families”, each with its own subset of disciplines. The four families are Street Racing, Pro Racing, Freestyle, and Off-Road. Unique challenges are associated with each family discipline. The game map begins to fill out fairly quickly with a smattering of colour-coded events.
Each family in The Crew 2 also provides a mentor, a rival, and a meeting place. The narrative progresses by impressing your mentor, vanquishing your rival, and basically climbing the ranks of each family in your quest to become a racing icon.
Social media domination
Measuring success in The Crew 2 reminds me of something my daughter says all the time. YouTube is her primary source of entertainment, and when something is good she is frequently remarks that it “gets all the views”. This is the benchmark of success in the modern entertainment world, and so to is it the objective in The Crew 2.
Completing events earns you social media followers, which translates into fame and success. Presumably the camera is on all the time however. Even when roaming between engagements in free play mode the fan meter keeps ticking upwards as you perform stylish maneuvers and stunts.
Your racing “destiny”
There are a plethora of cars to unlock and purchase with the in game credits earned during your racing career. Certain classes of vehicles are tied to different disciplines, so obtaining your first ride in a given class will usually pepper the map with new events. Upgrading your vehicles however takes on a bit of a new twist in The Crew 2.
Completing objectives and winning races provides another reward in the form of loot drops. These drops contain new vehicle parts classified by rarity and rating. Upgrading your parts with increase stats, grant abilities, and improve your vehicle rating. Loot types range from common (gray) drops with no bonuses to epic (purple) drops with 2 “Affix Part Bonuses”. Sound familiar?
This lends an aspect to The Crew 2 that is unmistakably tied to the loot system in games like Destiny. Repeat races and events as many times as you like to earn new loot, improve your vehicle rating, and scrap what you no longer need. Loot caches can also be located in free play mode using your built in radar detection feature.
Open world freedom
The Crew 2 is a complete open world from the start. The map begins with just a few event locations etched out, but it doesn’t take long to explode into a confetti of markers and points of interest. This could be a positive or a negative depending on your style of play.
If you’re a free roaming soul who just wants to let loose, you’ll probably appreciate just being able to set off in any direction and pick up random objectives as they appear on your HUD. Since objectives can be repeated over and over for new rewards, you may risk repeating events you’ve already participated in if you aren’t careful. Ultimately this causes no real harm however as The Crew 2 builds around the idea of race—upgrade—repeat.
If you prefer a bit of structure to your experience however, you won’t really find it here. As I mentioned earlier, there is a narrative tying events together, but it is very loose. The open map balloons with events across the country at a rapid pace. For the indecisive, there isn’t really any prime objective pointing the way.
I sometimes like to approach open world games with a strategic approach. Clear an area of main events and side objectives methodically—and only then move on and allow the map and new objectives to spawn. This is not an option in The Crew 2.
Overall the game is a paradise for those who want full freedom and plenty to do (or pass right by). Conversely, those who desire a more controlled approach may be overwhelmed by the vast amount of open-structured content.
Enjoy the scenery
The most unique feature of The Crew 2 and its predecessor is the ability to travel coast-to-coast across the continental U.S.A. The environments and textures in the game are definitely gorgeous. it makes traversing the country between events a pleasure. I have flown in and out of Chicago a few times recently, and approaching Chicago by air in my light plane gave me a distinct sense of deja vu.
It is very easy to open the map and simply fast travel from event to event however, which has the potential to render free roam travel redundant. For this reason it’s certainly a huge benefit that traversing the open world is enjoyable. The ease of skipping from event to event does certainly give players the excuse to bypass one of The Crew 2‘s biggest selling features.
My only issue with navigation is that the GPS could be improved. For example, if I set my waypoint to an airplane event while still in a car, the GPS calculates an airplane path to the marker. I’m still in my car though, and my intention is to drive to the event. In this case, i wish The Crew 2 would calculate GPS based on the vehicle I’m in, not the event I’m travelling to.
The Crew 2 is a game with a lot of aesthetic beauty and a vast open world to explore. There isn’t much more than a bland narrative holding it all together. However if you’re looking for a free roaming map brimming with events and objectives, you likely won’t be disappointed.
Seeking fame, gaining followers, and impressing the families provides some challenge. This aspect of the game does not last very long though. Nevertheless if you enjoy a Destiny-like approach to repeating major events for loot, then The Crew 2 definitely has vast potential for replayability.
+ Gorgeous open world America
+ Freedom to explore and play how you like without boundaries
+ Fun to race on land, sea, and air
+ Interesting vehicle upgrade progression system
– Shallow narrative, cliche story and dialogue
– GPS could use some improvement
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5