If someone sat me down, put an Xbox controller in my hand and said, ‘here, drive this’, I would have thought I was playing a new Hawaiin themed DLC for Forza Horizon 5. At least that’s the feeling I got in my first hour of The Crew Motorfest. That was until I jumped into a super hotted up power boat and then flew over the mountains of Oahu in a plane which is when The Crew series’ roots took hold. Add in unique activities to complete and multiplayer modes like grand race, demolition royale and main stage, and Ubisoft Ivory Tower are really hitting their stride with this third iteration to The Crew series.
The intro to the game has us customising our driver where you choose amongst 10 preset avatars that can be further customised for clothing, winning stances and more. Then we set off in control of several vehicle sequences that give us a preview of The Crew Motorfest’s playlists. These are groups of tailored races, themed events, and other unique challenges, all of which contain specific atmosphere, objectives, and rewards for completion. The game’s music is uplifting and fitting for the scenery, and we get accompanying voiceovers during races which get a bit grating with their regularity. Still, this is an excellent and diverse racing game with plenty on offer for racing game fans, and graphics that blew me away with the lighting and detail of environments.
Playlists range from American Muscle, 911 Legacy and Rule the Streets, to Made in Japan and the Hawaii Scenic Tour, and you can enter these first few playlists with any car. We get a choice between three cars initially but when you enter these themed playlists, you will be loaned an appropriate car for that race. Other playlists require you to own a specific vehicle to access them such as Vintage Garage, Lamborghini, and Dream Cars. To buy new vehicles you will need to earn currency by completing races and challenges or you can use real money to buy them – more on this later. Once you complete all playlists, you can create custom races and customise those to your liking with weather effects, vehicles, difficulties and more, extending the single player options to your playstyle.
From my previous experience in Forza Horizon games, I got overwhelmed for choices of which races and activities to do next with so many icons on the map. In The Crew Motofest, I initially chose the Hawaii Scenic Tour playlist and was thankful that there weren’t too many race icons on the map. Zooming in a little more on the map revealed landmark names such as the Kaena Point Satellite Station and Mokuleia Park Airport, which I appreciated with the attention to detail. I also loved the scenery change as I drove through the various biomes the island has to offer. Black sands around the high volcanic regions leading down into the lush and green valleys, to the beautiful white sandy beaches with turquoise waters. The graphics detail is extremely good, especially at dawn.
Aside from also seeing player driver icons moving around the map (which can be cars, boats or planes), there are a whole heap of collectible icons on the minimap as you’re driving. These are graffiti artwork and statues to collect and completing the collection will provide you with rewards. You will also be lured to large icons of other playlists that beckoned to me. I succumbed to a big donut in the sky, and this opened the Rule the Streets playlist. Realising the map was filling up even more so I stopped activating more playlists and got back to completing the Hawaii Scenic Tour races. Starting each race allows you to adjust difficulty options to try earning more bonus currency and loot, and if you’re winning too often you’re prompted to increase the difficulty if you want to.
A few of the map icons were feats which are activities such as the familiar speed traps seen in other games, but I was pleasantly surprised to see some new activities added within The Crew Motorfest. There was a slalom section where you needed to weave between gates within a time limit, and bull eyes had you passing through narrow gates that came at you quick and fast. There was also escape where you must outrun an expanding danger zone against the clock, aerobatics where you need to maneuver your plane through a list of stunt zones, and buoys where you need to gather as many buoys in your boat within the time.
In addition to earning currency when completing races and events, you’ll also unlock new parts to upgrade your vehicle. There are also motorfest crates scattered throughout the world which are fun to find. Your minimap radar will blink when you’re getting near a crate and then blink faster or slower if you’re getting closer or moving further away from it. If you are playing in a group of players, you will have an enhanced radar radius to help find these crates. The parts come in different coloured rarities and benefits, and you can scrap ones you don’t need.
This brings me to one of my less favoured systems and that’s to do with using real money to purchase crew credits. When you are looking at buying a new vehicle, you are given the option to pay using in-game currency (grey coins) or crew currency (blue coins). After finishing 15 races I had built up just over 500,000 in-game currency and vehicles available at this point were averaging 300-400K. It means it’s a bit of a grind through gameplay to purchase more cars, but I prefer a grind to just flat-out paying money to unlock them. Each to their own in this regard.
In terms of multiplayer opportunities, there’s a heap of ways to play in The Crew Motorfest. Main stage races were hectic, reminding me of the Rider’s Republic mass races with full on collisions with other players. Then there is the 32-player demolition royale mode where players are split into eight 4-player crews. You start off flying in a small plane with your crew and then choose a landing zone, trying to collect upgrades that are highlighted in the play area. The play area shrinks after 5-minutes so you’ll need to make sure you stay within the circle while also playing demolition derby to try take out other players. Thankfully the RPG parts system is deactivated in this game mode to keep things fair for players. It’s a lot of fun but in my play times it took a little while to get enough players to create a match. One game started with just 16 players, four teams of 4, so I’m glad we didn’t have to wait for the full 32 players.
Overall, there’s plenty on offer within The Crew Motorfest for racing game fans, in both single and mutiplayer. There is a heap of similarities to Forza Horizon 5, but there are enough differences in activities to define itself, especially once you unlock flying planes and driving boats and motorbikes. Multiplayer modes are a lot of fun, though queue times were a little slow in my time zone. However, with seasonal events also on offer for players, this will be a game I will regularly come back to.