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The Crew Motorfest review: Streets ahead

The Crew Motorfest is a sequel that delivers far more than I expected from it

If you’ve ever wondered who’s still playing The Crew 2 in 2023: it’s me. But when I learned of a sequel, I wasn’t that interested. I didn’t think there was much new ground to cover; I was pessimistic about turning what was originally intended to be DLC into a full game; and besides, how good could it be without the core gimmick of covering all of America?

Much better, as it turns out. You see, The Crew 2 is a decent racing game with gimmicks propping it up, whereas The Crew Motorfest is just a damn good racing game.

After spending so many years with 2’s light and simplistic racing engine, it’s a bit of a shock to switch to Motorfest where cars have a real sense of weight that you can feel shift as you hit all of the complex corners on every track. You can’t play fast and loose in Motorfest anymore, you have to be on it with timing your breaking, and missing the window is extremely punishing.

The Crew Motorfest

Plus, it means the 20 different racing disciplines finally feel worthwhile because the cars actually drive differently. Street racers are reliable and reasonably fast, rally vehicles slide like crazy but nail precise turns, and hypercars are ridiculously powerful but twice as unstable. These were things you didn’t have to think about before, but now the racing engine is sophisticated enough to factor it in.

Events have been overhauled in a way that fixes The Crew 2’s biggest problem. Before, every event had a vague number attached, and if your car was below that number the race was basically impossible – yet as soon as you hit the number barrier by upgrading the right parts, you could clear it with ease. It meant that difficulty was non-existent in pretty much every event, you just had to grind for long enough.

Motorfest switches this out for a new playlist system, which is a series of 7-10 races all focused around one type of vehicle, be it a racing discipline, a brand, or even a time period. The first time you play through all of these races, you’re forced to use loaned vehicles which, combined with customizable difficulty settings, ensures you’ll always have a challenging racing experience.

The Crew Motorfest

Then, once you’ve completed the playlist, you can come back with whatever vehicle you want to try and set the highest times and earn more cash. It fixes the difficulty problem and makes every event much more fun to replay, which is good because you’ll still need to do that a lot of to get all the money you need for a huge car collection.

Live Summit events are back and are still your main motivation to come back every week. They’re largely unchanged in Motorfest, but the two we’ve had so far have both had a much stronger sense of theme than before, which is helped by how playlists are set up.

Shockingly though, there is no Motorpass – The Crew’s version of the Battle Pass. In their place are the monthly “Main Stage” events, where you earn XP in three different categories: playlist races, online PvP races, and side events/challenges, and all the rewards are completely free. There are no guarantees it will stay that way forever, of course, but Ubisoft hasn’t announced anything to the contrary yet.

The Crew Motorfest

Online PvP races are clearly not the focus here, but the new system they have in place for them does the job. Every half an hour a new Grand Race and Demolition Royale event starts. Grand Races are like the wild story races from The Crew 2, where you race across three different vehicle types, and Demolition Royale is a 32-person demolition derby. They’re simple and aren’t designed for more than a short Sunday drive every now and then, but that’s fine given how much focus is on the single-player content.

One thing that has been lost is the motivation to explore the open world. Going from all of mainland USA to a single Hawaiian island was always going to feel like a downgrade, and the result is that the world isn’t worth simply roaming on your own anymore. You can no longer road trip around all the major landmarks because there simply aren’t any worth visiting.

It messes with some of the challenges too, namely the Photo Ops. It made sense in The Crew 2 because, who wouldn’t want a photo of flying a plane upside down through the underside of Las Vegas’ Eiffel Tower? What’s less exciting is snapping a picture of a classic car in front of an old motel. It feels like something they kept purely because it was a feature in the last game, not because it actually had a meaningful place here.

The Crew Motorfest preview: A line of retro, 1950s cars are racing along a wet road lined with palm trees.

The UI isn’t the best either. The previous game’s design was very clean and easy to navigate, which was important given all the different event types you had to sift through. In Motorfest it looks a lot messier, especially on the activities screen, where you have to really go digging for some of the events. Even vehicles aren’t listed in an easy-to-understand order anymore – no limit on vehicle parts though, so that’s a win.

I really wasn’t expecting Motorfest to be that big of a step forward for The Crew, but I’m pleased that I was wrong. All the major aspects of gameplay have been massively improved from its predecessor with the racing engine, events system, and reward loop each being better than before. While The Crew 2 only attracted a niche fanbase because of its unique gimmicks, Motorfest has a much broader appeal.

Score: 8/10

  • Visuals: 8/10
  • Audio: 9/10
  • Gameplay: 8/10
  • Technical performance: 10/10

Version tested: PS5

The Crew Motorfest technical performance

The PS5 version of Motorfest runs flawlessly. Admittedly it’s not exactly pushing any boundaries graphics-wise, but far simpler games have had far bigger issues this generation. Not a frame drop or stutter in sight.