The Crew: Playing Matchmaker in a Massive Open-World Racer

There's more to Ubisoft's new arcade racer than a giant sandbox.

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After releasing the wonderfully ridiculous Driver: San Francisco in 2011, Ubisoft is ready to take another shot at the open-world racing genre with The Crew. Developed by Test Drive Unlimited veterans Ivory Tower along with Ubisoft Reflections, The Crew is a PC and next-gen exclusive where your driving playground is a shrunken down version of the entire United States. With 10,000 kilometers of roadways and a map that will take players two hours to drive from coast to coast, The Crew's gargantuan sandbox is looking awfully impressive.

But besides its sheer scale, one of the most interesting features about The Crew is the way it incorporates multiplayer into its open-world design. This is a game aiming to do away with discrete single-player and multiplayer modes; its goal is to act as a sort of invisible matchmaker--similar to what Bungie has stated it's planning to do with Destiny--by performing behind-the-scenes networking and grouping players together based on where they are in the world.

Whether you're cruising downtown Manhattan or off-roading in the dusty hills outside Las Vegas, you'll always be connected to eight other players. Those are the people playing The Crew at the same time as you who happen to be closest in the game world. Head off in another direction and the game will swap in new players of a more appropriate geographical distance. The cool thing about all this is that you're never shown a "connecting to Player X" screen or anything of that nature; it's all done invisibly and seamlessly under the hood.

How you engage--or don't engage--with those players is up to you. You can challenge them to various races and activities, or simply cruise by them in your highly customized licensed vehicle with the smug knowledge that their stock car hasn't been tuned to high heaven like yours has. At the most basic level, players are grouped together to add more human life and activity to these driving environments. From there, it's up to you what you do with these players.

But no matter where you are in the world, you'll always be shown a map of where your friends are. If you're doing a street race in Miami and happen to grow suddenly grow incredibly lonely once you notice you're friends are all off-roading in the Rockies, you can simply pull open a map and fast travel right to them. In fact, you can fast travel anywhere you want at any time--so long as you've unlocked those portions of the map through the story mode.

Combine all of this into an arcade racer with a 500 square-kilometer map full of events you can trigger at virtually every intersection and you've got--in our eyes at least--a very promising next-gen racer. Hopefully The Crew doesn't hide too much of its fun behind the overall story progression, because this looks the type of game that could be great for getting a few friends together and cruising the sandbox just goofing around.

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Discussion

34 comments
dr_Mabuse
dr_Mabuse

Hope its non-line too. If multiplayer-only its hard to get hands on it in a *working version* from my sea-mates !

tevic
tevic

Are all the races against humans or against AI ?

Offline play ? Multiplayer only ? Cloud-enabled ?

If yes, what about when the servers will be shut down ? Is it Game Over then ?

bmart970
bmart970

Burnout Paradise was awesome, and ever since I've been looking for an open world game to top it. Looks like I found it.

JFERNANDEZ84
JFERNANDEZ84

Is it gonna be multiplayer only? Or it'll have a single player mode?

aoticPrototype
aoticPrototype

I wonder if I can drive through NC on I-77 or I-40

masterofzeros
masterofzeros

With 10,000 kilometers of roadways and a map that will take players two hours to drive from coast to coast. Two frickin' hours. Sad that it's arcade. Should be more sim.

Johny_47
Johny_47

I can't wait for this so friggin much, it's what Need for Speed should have evolved into instead of the cheap and nasty crap they call 'Need for Speed' these days.

darksonic140
darksonic140

If there's customization it might sell good

PETERAKO
PETERAKO

"How you engage--or don't engage--with those players is up to you."

how about turning online off, play by myself and spare me my nerves health from engaging with stupid 13 year olds.

emarati999
emarati999

i think this game looks amazing and i will buy it

crazylooser2003
crazylooser2003

The game looks more like a Midnight Club 2 then Burnout...

ABIBASS
ABIBASS

we need police! and be able to run over pedestrians!

pelvist
pelvist

I thought console gamers did not like MMOS? :lol:

TommyBarban
TommyBarban

Driver SF was awsome, for me this is the driving to look out for next gen, and project cars for the simulator experience

leigham
leigham

the game looks like it drives clunky

Thyasianman
Thyasianman

"You can't run over pedestrians" I'm leaving.

smghottie
smghottie

Test Drive Unlimited plus legit Off-roading rigs? Finally. Awesome. PC.

Frabbley
Frabbley

Sounds like they took a hint from Midnight Club's success and decided to top them... by a lot.

sensei_hEnRY
sensei_hEnRY

open world? 10,000 km of roads? fully customizeable cars? Most favorite next gen racer!

fredyellowone
fredyellowone

Wait, that big?

Day 1 buy.  SWEEEEEEEET!!!!!

eriko32
eriko32

I love the idea of adding a bunch of bright lights and big tires to a car

malokevi
malokevi

This sounds fantastic. Love the idea of having 8 players always within reach. Im gonna chase those fuckers down.

poseidion
poseidion

@tevic It's TDU with another name, so you'll have story-based races with AI, and multiplayer races on-line. No split-screen, I guess. And Shaun, how do you dare to compare Bungie's plans to this when the off-line-on-line mix has been used for TDU since 2006. And just like now, players around you changed based on where are you on the map. The sad difference is that this games looks more childish than TDU. I may not be one of the best in the world, but I have tons of hours played and miles driven on TD 4, 5 and 6(awful one), TDU and TDU 2.

dr_Mabuse
dr_Mabuse

its easy: Just switch your internet off. Try it now ;-)

PETERAKO
PETERAKO

@ABIBASS ummm I think carmaggedon reincarnation has been fully funded and is under development right now.

PETERAKO
PETERAKO

@dr_Mabuse No, actually its not easy. If the game has DRM under the false pretence of online playability then its not easy at all.

dr_Mabuse
dr_Mabuse

*caughs* - You know... I WILL be avaliable w.o. DRM et al. too. You know how ;-)