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4 reasons why The Crew 2 is everything Need for Speed Payback should have been

Stunning visuals, a vast open world and seamless multiplayer make this the racer to beat

Need for Speed may have ruled the roads for the past few years but that could all be about to change.

After NFS Payback’s focus on narrative ended up grinding fans’ gears, Ubisoft’s The Crew 2 is now on hot on its heels.

And if it keeps going could well become the action racer to beat this year.

The Crew 2 has a day and night cycle and a vast open world

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The Crew 2 has a day and night cycle and a vast open world

Just like in the 2014 original, The Crew 2 puts you in control of an unknown racer who’s trying to work his way up to become champion across multiple disciplines.

These include planes, boats and motorbikes. But here’s where it gets interesting.

There’s 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.

The Crew 2 features loads of fully licensed cars – all with different characteristics and handling

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The Crew 2 features loads of fully licensed cars – all with different characteristics and handling

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 – Transformers style.

So, if you’re mid-race and fancy getting an edge, you can drive off the nearest pier, transform into a boat and sail away.

At a touch of a button you can transform into a boat or plane

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At a touch of a button you can transform into a boat or plane

Similarly, if the roads are congested, simply morph into a plane and soar into the stratosphere (yes, you really can go that high… well, almost).

Thankfully, all vehicles handle differently ensuring 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.

It looks incredible

The Crew 2 ‘s game engine has been completely re-worked to allow significantly more draw distance, making for some spectacular views.

Ubisoft has created a scaled down version of the US for gamers to explore – including forests and mountains

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Ubisoft has created a scaled down version of the US for gamers to explore – including forests and mountains

Cars, too, are packed full of character. They don’t boast the hyper-realism of those found in Project Cars, but they’re more than convincing enough – especially when it comes to recreating a sense of speed.

Little touches, such as atmospheric clouds and realistic vegetation help make the world feel more alive than ever.

There’s no awful voice acting 

EA’s Need for Speed: Payback may have had its moments, but the focus on narrative was a wrong turn.

And it was made worse by the horrendous voice acting.

The Crew 2 isn’t out until next year but is already shaping up to be a must buy

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The Crew 2 isn’t out until next year but is already shaping up to be a must buy

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 June 29. We can’t wait to take it for a spin.

CHECK OUT THE CREW 2 IN ACTION BELOW.