the crew preview

The Crew Motorfest Hands-On Preview – Holiday in Hawaii

Another hands-on with Ubisoft's new open-world racer!

Driving around a huge open world with ridiculous vehicles is a recipe for fun, this we know. I recently visited Ubisoft’s Australian offices to play a preview build of The Crew Motorfest and see what it has to offer – and it left me wishing I could play more. It captured the ridiculous joy of driving cars around a picturesque location with handling that was easy to pick up but felt like it had some depth to learn.

The handling model can make or break any driving game. From the couple of hours I got to spend driving various vehicles around Motorfest’s gorgeous Hawaii location it felt like the team at Ivory Tower might have nailed this aspect of the game.

Pre-Order at Amazon for $89 (current gen) / $79 (last gen) with free shipping.

Cars are straightforward to pick up and drive, but it’s rewarding to spend time with the vehicles and work out just how they want to be driven. You can jump in a Honda NSX supercar one race, a Ford Bronco off-roader the next, and then something as wild as an airplane or speedboat. Each is easy enough to get to grips with, but will handle totally differently. Learning to wrangle these different kinds of vehicles and adapt to them is one of the core joys of racing games for me, and it’s great to see from the short time I had with the game that there will be a wide array of challenges in Motorfest.

One particularly nice touch I found was that the challenge will offer to adapt to you. I was pleasantly surprised after playing my first few events and handily finishing 1st in each of them by the game noticing this and offering to turn the AI skill up a notch. I kept accepting this prompt and ratcheting up the difficulty until the game noticed I started doing pretty terribly in races and offered to turn things down instead.

I love when a game adapts to the ability I bring and lets me stay in control of the experience with timely prompts like these. You can tell the game to stop asking if you just want to stick with a particular setting as well – it’s totally up to you.

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The main kinds of objectives I was able to check out in Motorfest are the Playlists – each a series of car events based around a theme. Some, like Made in Japan, are little stories where you jump in with an established crew of Japanese car enthusiasts and work your way into their good graces by winning races and other car events while getting to know the crew and a little more about their cars along the way. Others have you leisurely driving a ridiculous modded VW Kombi van around Hawaii’s sights while a tour guide tells you about places and stories of local significance.

The playlists I played each gave me a car to use for the events so I didn’t have to worry about building or buying a car to meet a spec which made jumping into these mini-campaigns frictionless.

Maintaining an extensive garage can be fun too, because Motorfest looks fantastic. Cars are as detailed as you’d expect for a modern racing game, and there look to be extensive customisation options for anyone with a creative urge. Environments are awesome to drive through, from natural Hawaiian volcanos and lush greenery to night-time neon-bathed slick streets, Motorfest definitely left a striking visual impression.

I’m very excited to spend some more time with Motorfest. While the preview showed vast amounts of game to play, the ongoing appeal will depend on how well the online aspects are implemented and how the game is supported with updates longer term. What I did play though looked fantastic, handled wonderfully and showed a huge scope for different kinds of events, vehicles, and ways to have a great time driving around.

The Crew Motorfest releases on September 14 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC. Pre-Order at Amazon for $89 (current gen) / $79 (last gen) with free shipping.