PAX West 2017: Nonlinear Gameplay is The Crew 2’s Strength

While in some regards 2017 has been a rather surreal year, it gave many reasons for fans of racing games to get excited. With games like Project Cars 2, F1 2017, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Gran Turismo Sport and Forza Motorsport 7 either having been released or announced there are a lot of options to keep fans of the genre occupied. The Crew 2 won’t see a release until 2018, but out of the titles that were announced this year, this is the one that holds the most intrigue as it doesn’t restrict itself to being limited to standard racing game conventions.

The Crew was originally released in 2014 as an open world online experience that tried to combine arcade racing action with open world exploration and some plot about infiltrating some organized crime group. Reception was fairly mixed with a positive skew, which isn’t bad for a new IP that takes an established genre such as racing and puts a new spin on it. The subsequent expansions improved the core game, adding features like motorcycles and being able to engage in police chases with players.

The Crew 2 builds on its predecessor and attempts to improve the open world freedom and nonlinear aspects of gameplay. Fans of conventional racing games won’t be left in the lurch as The Crew 2 features an abundance of standard races and challenges across land, sea and air vehicles so no one will be hurting for their competitive fix and naturally the boats and airplanes will provide unique opportunities in the competitive arenas. As enjoyable as car racing may be, there is no shortage of games that provide these types of experiences.

What really makes The Crew 2 unique is when a player decides to go off the rails and take advantage of the open world environments, on the fly vehicle switches and complete immunity from the dire consequences of attempting to do a number of the available stunts in real life. Some of these stunts are death defying without having to take advantage of the vehicle swapping mechanic, such as flying low above the water in between bridge support beams or trying to land a plane on top of a building. These are fun, but it’s more fun to see how crazy the game will let you get away with when it comes to vehicle switching, like jumping off a ramp on a motorcycle and switching to a boat before landing in the water. While plummeting several miles from the sky and driving away when you hit the ground is entertaining, but a new challenge I created for myself during this time with the demo at PAX was to land a plane on a rooftop, morph into a motorcycle and do a high speed jump into the normal traffic below. Stupid guard rails on the roof that prevent tourists and workers from falling to their deaths interfered with these stunt jumps, but that doesn’t mean this plan can’t work somewhere else in the game.

The Crew 2 is not a game I predict most people will purchase solely for the silly reasons I get the most enjoyment from it. Most people will purchase it for the online competitive aspect, the story, car collecting, and going head to head against their friends in the various races and challenges. They are all legit reasons for picking up The Crew 2, arguably more so than the aspects I have been focusing on. But having the freedom to engage in some off the wall mayhem just to see what kind of goofy predicaments one can get in when they have access to land, air and sea travel does sound like it could be a nice tie breaker when deciding on which racing game to pick up in 2018.