Need for Speed may have ruled the roads for the past few years but that could all be about to change.
Ubisoft’s The Crew 2 is hot on its heels and on course to push EA’s racer every step of the way.
Just like in the 2014 original, The Crew 2 puts you in control of a relatively unknown racer who’s trying to work his way up to become the champion across multiple disciplines.
These include planes, boats and motorbikes. But here’s where it gets interesting.
They’ve built an entire country for you to explore
Yep. Ubisoft has built a scaled-down map of the United States – including forests, mountains and barrens plains. There’s even a day and night cycle, meaning you’ll be able to have some truly epic races.
A developer told Dream Team Gaming that it takes around 40 minutes to drive from one side to the other by car.
To keep things interesting, there are four different hubs – each with their own theme and playstyle.
These range from off-road motocross events to pro-racing and drifting competitions (the latter of which takes some getting used to).
The world can be explored co-cooperatively, too – so if you’ve ever wanted to go on a virtual US road trip with a pal, this game is for you.
Land, sea and air
Not that driving is the only way to get around in The Crew 2.
The game’s neatest trick gives you the ability to shift into a car, boat or plane on the fly.
So, if you’re mid-race and fancy getting an edge, you can drive off the nearest pier, transform into a boat and sail ahead.
Similarly, if the roads are congested, simply transform into a plane and soar into the stratosphere (yes, you really can go that high… well, almost).
Thankfully, all vehicles handle differently giving you plenty of unique feedback and feel.
They all have first-person cockpit views, too – if you’re after a real challenge.
Motorbikes make a return but are limited to smaller events and races. Be warned, though, they take some getting used to.
It looks incredible
The Crew 2 may be a few months away but already it was one of the best-looking games at this year’s gamescom.
The game engine has been completely re-worked to allow significantly more draw distance, allowing for spectacular views.
Cars, too, are packed full of character. They don’t have the hyper-realism seen in Project Cars, but they’re more than convincing enough – especially when it comes to recreating a sense of speed.
Atmospheric clouds and realistic vegetation have been added, too – making the whole world feel more alive than ever.
There’s no awful voice acting
EA’s Need for Speed: Payback looks absolutely stunning and really nails racing mechanics.
After all, they’ve got the racing maestros at Criterion – the team behind the Burnout games – lending a hand.
But the game really falls down in the voice acting department, which – if the gameplay demo we played was anything to go by, is absolutely woeful.
It’s particularly worrying given the focus EA is placing on narrative this year – with a storyline that wouldn’t look out of place in the Fast and Furious series.
Ubisoft’s racer, meanwhile, has far less emphasis on story, leaving the player to craft their own adventures.
The result is a pure, unrestricted racing experience – which makes NFS feel constrained and on-the-rails in comparison.
The Crew 2 is released on Xbox One, PS4 and PC on March 16, 2018.
You can sign up for the beta here
CHECK OUT THE CREW 2 BELOW.