Gamescom 2017: 5 Reasons The Crew 2 Could Be Paradise for Racing Fans

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Life is a highway. Or a river. Or the sky.

At Gamescom 2017 I got my first hands-on with The Crew 2, the upcoming sequel to Ubisoft’s open world racing game that’s bringing air and sea-based vehicles to its already impressive line-up of autos. The short demo consisted of some free roaming in and around Manhattan Island, as well as a first look at the motocross, drift, and grand prix race modes. While it was only a few select slices from what is clearly a multi-tiered tower of automotive cake, it was enough to get me excited for what developer Ivory Tower has in store. Here are five reasons The Crew 2 is shaping up to be a trip worth taking.

1. Every Vehicle is Effectively a Transformer

Why feature a vehicle roster that boasts a billionaire's shopping list of cars, motorbikes, boats and aeroplanes, if you have to drive to specific garage locations or thumb through pause menus in order to change vehicle? The Crew 2 allows you to switch between land, sea and air in an instant, with a mechanic that the developers have dubbed the ‘Fast Fav’ system.

You can preset a favourite vehicle for each mode of transport and then without even easing your foot off the throttle, click the right thumbstick to bring up a three-way menu and nudge the stick in the direction of the vehicle type you want to switch to. Then hey presto, your snarling sports car is suddenly your slickest speed boat as you veer over the edge of a winding coastal highway to the adjacent coastal waters below.

Admittedly it might take some time to learn how to employ the Fast Fav effectively, especially since at one point in my hands-on I was in an aerobatic prop plane weaving through the Manhattan skyline with the intention of blinking into boat form in order to tackle some challenges down in the Hudson river, only to watch my suddenly airborne boat sail down and overshoot the water’s edge and unceremoniously crash land on a nearby dock.

Still, when it works it’s a satisfyingly immediate way to transition between the varied vehicle types, and certainly paves the way for dynamic ‘automotive triathlon’-style racing events.

2. Its Map is the Greatest Hits of Continental USA

Okay so it’s still scaled down and cuts out the boring bits, but the North American open-world of The Crew 2 is even bigger than that of its predecessor, and substantially more detailed. Not only that, but you can get all-new perspectives on it thanks to the ability to both explore its rivers and do death-defying fly-bys of its most famous monuments from the air, in addition to hurtling down its highways, tearing up its city streets, or Dukes of Hazzard-ing your way off-road.

While the Gamescom demo appeared to be confined to the New York state area, you can certainly imagine dive-bombing a stunt plane under San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, or turning alligators into saltwater speedbumps in an airboat race through the Florida everglades, or even indulging in some Crusty Demons-style stunts off the heads of Mt Rushmore on a dirt bike.

Ensuring that you can relive your most daring feats set against some of the most iconic backdrops on the planet, The Crew 2 also features a new cinematic tool for replays - allowing you to pause at any moment, edit and share that Evil Knieval-shaming motorbike jump you just performed over the Grand Canyon.

3. You Can Ride Harley-Davidsons

Nothing says ‘America’, ‘the freedom of the open road’, and ‘BROOMBROOMBROOOOM’ like a Harley-Davidson, and thus it’s welcome news that the most famous motorbike brand on earth will be allowing every player of The Crew 2 to live out their Easy Rider fantasies (well, minus the drug-related bits at least).

Being able to get some friends together and ride a pack of growling Iron 833s down Route 66, from Santa Monica to Chicago, enjoying the scenery and subtle shifts in mood from one region to the next sounds like it would be incredible. At least until one of your buddies suddenly transforms into a Vespa and brings instant shame upon your bikie gang.

4. Its Race Variety is Unparalleled

Not to take anything away from Playground Games’ open-world racing opus Forza Horizon 3, but The Crew 2 at least seems to edge its Xbox exclusive rival when it comes to the sheer variety of its racing disciplines. The Crew 2 features street racing, open-wheel grand prix circuit events, mud-soaked motocross, and more besides, and that’s before you get to the aerial and water-based events and challenges. If anything, The Crew 2 feels more like it's gunning for a piece of GTA Online's pie as far as event variety goes, with its main point of difference being its fully licensed vehicle roster and more formidable map size.

And thanks to a more flexible approach to its progression system, you only need to focus on the disciplines you enjoy rather than trying to be a jack of all trades. If Red Bull Air Race-style flight challenges is all you care about, then that’s all you need do as the game will apparently still supply you with enough content to keep you up in the air.

5. It’s Also Just Straight Up Bonkers

Back during the game’s reveal at E3 2017 it was shown that a cool, Inception-style folding of the landscape would occur during a race to add a stylish flourish to the switch between car to boat. While it didn’t happen during the Gamescom demo, the developers did assure me that it would be something that would occur “in select parts” of the game, seemingly for no other reason than it was an amazing effect when Christopher Nolan did it, and it’s an amazing effect now.

Sure, it has little influence on the gameplay, but it reinforces the playful nature of developer Ivory Tower. While it wasn’t without its stumbles, The Crew established a racing road map for the series that was fleshed out to a substantial degree by its two welcome expansions, and now for its sequel it certainly seems like developer Ivory Tower has gained the confidence to have a bit more fun with the franchise.

Tristan Ogilvie is the Video Producer at IGN AU. On the rare occasion he does tweet, his tweets can be found @tristanogilvie