The Crew Motorfest – First Impressions

While I don’t play racing games consistently, I must confess I now look forward to the annual cruise fests that just let me go top speed and explore.

Over the years, I’ve found my preferred type of racer – one that lets me choose from a wide variety of cars, from all types of manufacturers, built for all conditions and where I can indulge in a range of stunning scenery, whizzing by come wind, rain or shine.

That’s why games like F1 are probably never going to be for me. But The Crew Motorfest? That is absolutely my jazz.

For me, having tried the previous Crew releases, I feel like Motorfest is the well-rounded experience they’ve been building up to all this time. The huge, wide open map, the living breathing world you can find in games like Forza Horizon, a huge range of activities – whether you want to play online or not – and an endless stream of content that keeps it all active for years to come.

That last part, in particular, is something I hope we can say about The Crew Motorfest. Because everything feels polished and fulfilling enough that you’ll just want to keep dipping in and out of, time after time.

I’m only providing initial impressions now as I just recently got access, but I’m set up for the long term and will be able to keep dropping back in, providing regular updates and really seeing how this game evolves. And ultimately, that’s the thing people need to realise about games like The Crew Motorfest. They’re going to just keep getting better.

What’s here right now, though, is sound and solid. You’ll immediately gravitate towards the Playlists which let you take part in a series of events set against various themed locales, like Japan and Hawaii. Each unique event within a playlist lets you drive a different car, at various times of day, in distinctly thematical environments.

And the thing that really struck me most about The Crew Motorfest, at least initially, is that many of these events feel like they’re nodding and saluting games that have come before them. Like, there’s totally Forza Horizon references here, no doubt, but Kyusha Spirit, for example, took me right back to Project Gotham Racing!

Whether that’s an intentional development decision or not, remains to be seen, but I found that incredibly satisfying and relaxing going into The Crew Motorfest because it was giving me these bite-sized chunks of racers I’ve loved all over the years – from Need for Speed to even Dirt Rally.

You can even drive Powerboats around! Yes, really. And that’s where Motorfest really starts to move away from the standard comparisons because it just becomes this wide open entity that lets you traverse the wider maps and areas without being restricted to staying in one, hard cobbled lane.

You’re going to be going over tracks one minute, then clomping through woods in the blistering rain the next, bumping over woody terrain, hoping to find a way through.

This is all done by seamlessly switching between vehicle types in FreeDrive – many of which you’ll buy over the course of the game – and sometimes, especially in the case of the powerboat, you’ll have to earn a significant amount before you purchase the vehicle needed to enter the competition.

It can even create some hilarity as if you randly switch to a powerboat, you’ll find you can’t move on hard surfaces. Who’d have thought, right?

Playing through each event gives you a real feel for all the different vehicles playable in the game and the range of handling is noticeable and feels significantly different from one to the next. In that regard Motorfest keeps itself refreshing, interesting and engaging. It’s so easy to lose hours to this game.

The story that connects most of these events together is paper thin, of course, and so dialogue sometimes really grates, especially when you just want to drive, relax and enjoy the thrill of the moment. There does feel like a bit of Ubisoft not knowing when to dial it back just a little bit, allowing you to just enjoy the experience.

But it never detracts massively. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably start to tune it out to the point it will become background noise. Though there are occasionally a few quips that break through that might raise a smile.

Within the Playlists the aim is to work through each different event, earning XP and rewards by beating it, working your way u until you eventually get to the final event which is the ultimate endurance test. These races are a real test of patience, of survival and ensuring you’ve mastered the vehicles within this little section of the game. You’ll seamlessly transition between three vehicles at around 33% through the race and then have to adapt to the different feelings while staying on the track and keeping one eye out for your rivals.

I adore these races and think they really add a fun flavour to The Crew Motorfest, making sure you stay on your toes while also helping you to learn where your strengths and weaknesses lie. And if you’re really feeling like a challenge, you can hop online to play against 27 others via Crossplay. This gets really chaotic and fun.

Also within the Playlists are Side Activities that let you test out your cars in some fun and different ways, like vaulting off a huge ramp and seeing how much air time you can get. Or seeing how fast your top speed is when racing to a checkpoint.

This all adds and builds up your XP for your driver level, but also gives you a ton of items to upgrade your vehicles. You’ll get rare types of breaks, but also gearboxes, motorcores, exhausts and even tires. All of which can build up and improve things like your speed, acceleration and braking.

There’s even live activities and competitions for you to throw yourself into like Demolition Derbies which fans of Fortnite and Battle Royales in general are going to love after being airdropped in, gathering rewards and smashing vehicles together in a shrinking circle. Great fun.

And that really sums up The Crew Motorfest in general. This is just an entertaining, very fun video game. At least, as it plays for right now. There’s a ton of content in here to keep you occupied, you’ve got such a range of things to see and do, and it’s also drop dead gorgeous.

Even the tricksy tree tracks where you’re weaving in and out of great oaks, or when you’re looking out over a neon-lit nirvana themed after Tokyo, this game just oozes style and never stops surprising you with its beauty.

And just one final quick note on DualSense. For me, this is one of those times the PS5 controller really adds to the experience with the haptic feedback pulsing through your hands as you whizz past your rivals, the appropriate amount of tension in the adaptive triggers and even the controller speaker plays a part. For instance, you can really tell when a car is getting closer to you and zooms past while you’re stationary with the increasing and decreasing noise. It’s wonderful.

I feel like there’s so much more I could say about The Crew Motorfest and I will in time. For now, I want to see how this settles over the next few weeks and even months ahead. What game will this turn into? How will Ubisoft continue to keep events fresh?

For now, what I will say is not enough people are talking about how good this game actually is. Ubisoft have clearly refined and nailed The Crew’s formula and may have just built one of the most entertaining racers you’ll find outside of Forza Horizon. Whether it surpasses that is something we’ll find out in the weeks to come.

The Crew Motorfest is out now on PC, PlayStation and Xbox

Code kindly provided by Ubisoft for review purposes.

Played on PlayStation 5

Full overview to follow

About the author

Jay Jones

Jay is a massive football fan - Manchester Utd in case you were wondering - and lover of gaming. He'll play just about anything, but his vice is definitely Ultimate Team.
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