E3 2017: I Parked A Speedboat On Top Of A Skyscraper In The Crew 2

My favorite part of my demo with The Crew 2 wasn’t racing, drifting, or doing any of the activities. Nor was it even roaming around the streets of Manhattan. What I enjoyed most was messing with the new vehicles in ways that Ubisoft probably didn’t intend, but were nonetheless terrific.

The Crew 2 includes new vehicles, such as boats and planes. No longer are you restricted to the road. Now you can take off and explore the game’s strange facsimile of the United States. The process for changing vehicles actually involves a pretty impressive technical feat: you bring up a selection wheel and choose whichever vehicle you want, whenever, wherever, and the game will switch you to that one instantaneously.

So I flew up high in a plane, switched vehicles, and parked a boat on top of a New York skyscraper.

It was quite a nice view from up there, sitting behind the wheel of a speedboat while perched on the precipitous edge of a hundred-story-tall building. I could look out over the city and see the Empire State Building and the entire breadth of Manhattan. I revved the speedboat’s engines a little bit. It sounded nice, but I didn’t go anywhere. Speedboats still need water to move in The Crew 2, even though you can get them onto skyscrapers. Some things still necessitate a bit of realism, apparently.

Then I changed back to flying a plane, soared straight up in the air, and switched to a motorbike. It was a long way down, so I obviously attempted to nail as many cool backflips as possible. I only managed three before slamming into the ground, but I immediately drove off. My character was completely unharmed by that drop.

This part of The Crew 2 is hilariously enjoyable, and I didn’t want to stop messing around with the vehicle-switching mechanic. Why do actual races when you can see how impressively you can launch your car into a river and then switch to a boat? All I wanted to do was to make challenges for myself, like flying low and acrobatically through the streets of Manhattan and then ending with a smooth landing onto asphalt in a car.

The fun did end eventually, and I tried out a couple of the mission types Ubisoft had playable. Largely, the gameplay feels very similar to the first game, and the races are similarly paced. I played a street race and saw a boat race and an off-road time trial, and noticed a few things: it looks better than the first game, but it plays almost identically.

Obviously boats and planes are new, but even the boat does not actually feel that different from the cars. I had no trouble transitioning directly to it; it didn’t seem as floaty as boats should. It was nice to cruise across the water at high speeds, but I didn’t find the boat races particularly compelling.

One major change coming to the activities that I am excited by is that Ubisoft is designing them to be much more open. In my opinion, an open-world driving game undermines its sense of freedom if it features extremely restrictive races within that open world. The Crew 2 solves this problem by allowing you a lot more creativity over the path you take to your objective. When I completed a race in Manhattan, I often peeled off from the main path to careen through buildings or tunnels that served as shortcuts. It made these races a lot more fun than some of the more limited ones I played, and I’m hopeful that Ubisoft will build upon this in the main game.

I’m still unsure about The Crew 2, since a lot of it struck me as unremarkable and not much of a change from The Crew. But, I will say, sticking a boat on top of a building in a racing game is one of my highlights from the show. I’m definitely looking forward to messing around with that mechanic more and trying to break the game by getting boats stuck in strange parts of the country. It’s shaping up to be a very weird playground–hopefully it ends up being a good racing game, as well.

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