In the home stretch
In case you hadn’t noticed, The Crew is an enormous game. We’re talking the entire stretch of the lower 48 states, hundreds of vehicle upgrades, and dozens of hours of gameplay without ever having to repeat the same content. Reaching the level cap of 50 will require dedication and a fairly sturdy time investment, but even then, you probably won’t be at a loss for ways to wring even more fun out of Ubisoft’s newest franchise.
I can say that with some certainty, because earlier this month I had a chance to go hands-on with several hours of The Crew’s endgame content, and I’m finally starting to understand the big-picture ideas developer Ivory Tower has in store for the title.
For starters, driving around with a garage full of well-upgraded, high-level vehicles is an absolute blast. In the past, I’ve been a bit skeptical of the game’s handling model, but wheeling around in a Shelby Mustang GT500 with top-tier parts finally made a believer out of me, especially once I delved into the menus and started tweaking the assists to suit my personal playstyle. The late-game missions I was able to try out delivered the right sense of speed and limit-pushing adrenaline to satisfy my inner racer as I cut corners on winding mountain roads and sent up tire smoke slamming on my brakes as I crested into the infamous Laguna Seca Corkscrew. I’ve got a suspicion that level 50 is the way The Crew was really meant to be played, with a garage full of powerful vehicles and challenges that make you put them through their paces.
And just because you’ve reached the top doesn’t mean you have to stop progressing, either. Once you hit the cap, the game unlocks a new tier for challenges and missions—platinum. Meet these demanding criteria, and you’ll unlock new, incredibly rare parts for purchase, allowing you to push your stable of cars even further past the proverbial redline. As far as excuses go for revisiting content you’ve already beaten to try to best your past results, it’s a fairly solid one. I, for one, know that I’ll be jamming that “Restart Mission” option over and over trying to achieve perfection.
But if replaying through the same content over and over to get slight upgrades doesn’t sound like your bag (not that we’re pointing fingers, here [put in link to Destiny review]), there’s one more aspect of The Crew that will keep you coming back for more: Faction Wars. Entirely distinct from the main story progression, this game mode is all about an ongoing monthly competition with other players around the world. You swear allegiance to one of five animal-themed factions, then compete in special missions and PvP races to rise through the ranks and earn rewards for your progress. As one faction begins to dominate different regions of the country, its members will then unlock even more missions to help their cause.
While you won’t have to wait until the endgame to start participating in Faction Wars content—it’ll be available fairly early on in the game, Ivory Tower says—it’s definitely an obvious way to extend your experience once you’ve reached the cap. If you do particularly well, the cash rewards will help you foot the bill for those rare platinum parts, giving you even more of an edge as you compete against rival factions.
Doing well in Faction Wars will apparently even help you unlock the game’s most exclusive vehicles. There’s a bit of a twist, though—rewards for the winning faction will be split based one each member stacks up against their allies in contributing to that success. That means it can be much more lucrative to be part of a small underdog faction that pulls off the upset win rather than merely tagging along with the popular juggernaut and hoping the sheer numbers among their ranks will carry you to an easy victory.
Obviously, longevity is one of the hardest parts of any game to predict in advance. Trying out a slice of The Crew’s endgame content in isolation is a fundamentally different experience from what it’ll be like after a long campaign through the story missions. And playing a single match of PvP for Faction Wars, well, that’s a long, long way away from coming back every month to keep pushing your team to the top. But I’m genuinely optimistic that The Crew could have legs. The core concept of open-world racing, seamless online play, and the chance to experience everything cooperatively with friends make for an inviting combination, and Ivory Tower seem to have no shortage of enthusiasm or ideas on how to keep the game evolving after launch. For now, though, all I can say for sure is that I’ll be at the starting line come November 11th, eager to see if they can actually deliver on that potential.