Ubisoft’s next-generation line-up is perhaps on of the most varied and impressive of any third-party publisher, but the most underrepresented titles in that crop of heavyweights is surely The Crew. The publisher wants to change this, offering you an insight into just what makes The Crew worth noticing.
A racing videogame that hopes to capitalise on the modern internet services and infrastructure, The Crew provides an open world racing videogame where the lines between single-player and multiplayer modes are blurred. Ubisoft’s question and answer (Q&A) session for The Crew follows below, verbatim from the publisher, and Electronic Theatre will keep you updated with all the titles coming for the next-generation consoles.
1. What is THE CREW?
THE CREW is a revolutionary action-driving game developed exclusively for next-gen consoles. It takes the new hardware capabilities and connects players online like never before. THE CREW takes you and your friends on a reckless ride through a massive open world version of the USA that is loaded with exciting challenges.
2. What are the key innovations of THE CREW in comparison to other driving games?
THE CREW was born out of a dream to create a living, breathing world of car enthusiasts. A world in which any driving fantasy can be realized – street, dirt, cross-country, circuit. The game was built with competition and cooperation at its heart. We believe the technology is finally here to make this dream a reality.
The first innovation that THE CREW brings to the action-driving genre is a massive open world, gigantic in scope, which delivers an unprecedented level of gameplay variety. The entire USA is your driving playground, covering thousands of square miles, from city to suburb, county to county, state to state, coast to summit. THE CREW defines what freedom truly means in a driving game, without any barriers and invisible walls to restrict your car to the road. Go anywhere in the huge open world at any moment and use the surrounding environment to your advantage. Take that cop chase off-road and watch those cumbersome patrol cars spin out in the dirt, or maybe just hide in a corn field…
The second major innovation delivered by THE CREW on next-gen consoles is a revolutionary social driving experience, in a persistent online open world populated by other real human players. You and your friends will be able to seamlessly jump in and out of each other’s games at any time, in any mission. So, for the first time in a driving game, you will be able to play the entire campaign cooperatively with your friends. At the core of the game experience is an advanced social interface that connects you with your friends so that teaming up is effortless and efficient.
Our E3 demo showed how players can create their own gameplay experience based on their tastes (i.e. free- riding in the countryside, accomplishing side challenges, weaving in and out of city traffic or achieving an epic downhill race) and then “crew up” on the go to reach a common objective (i.e. chase and takedown a target in an open off-road environment). Sharing a common objective is a lot of fun, makes tough tasks easier, and provides get greater rewards. You’ll be able to select crew members from among your friends, ranked by their driving attributes, to ensure that your crew’s capabilities correspond with the needs of the mission at hand.
3. Why did you choose the USA as the setting?
Most driving games are all about competition, the heart-pumping adrenaline of speed, and the thrill of danger. For us, it’s that and so much more. It’s also about exploration, and along with it, adventure. The social experience, driving with your friends or making new ones, is key. A driving game is a bigger than life fantasy when you think of all that it can deliver. And with THE CREW, we’re bringing this fantasy to life and offering players the ultimate driving game experience.
Recreating the USA, the birthplace of car culture, is a perfect fit, with its iconic landmarks, vibrant cities, and diverse landscapes. THE CREW contains 1,000 real world landmarks and many major American cities from across the nation, each with environments and terrain representative of their real-world counterparts. Maneuver through the bustling streets of New York City and Los Angeles, cruise down sunny Miami beach, or trailblaze through the snowy mountains around Aspen, Colorado. Nearly every type of terrain you can think of, from downtown city centers, suburbs, hillsides, cornfields, canyons, desert dunes, race tracks – you name it and it’s in the game.
America also has a vibrant counter culture car scene based around modding and illegal street racing – THE CREW’s story is based in this setting. THE CREW will take you on a journey to move up the ranks of the Five-Ten Motor Club, a gang grown around Detroit’s illegal street racing scene – making a rep for yourself and ultimately taking down their activities one region at a time.
4. In this huge environment, what driving experience can players expect?
Within the massive open world of THE CREW, we aim to create a true next generation driving experience, seamlessly connected and filled with things for players to do.
No matter if you’re playing on your own or with friends, you’ll always find a variety of challenges to keep you entertained, whether you’re looking for the thrill of a cop chase, the competition of a highway race, or the adventure of a wilderness raid. Adapting your play style to a mission’s objective and the driving conditions of your surrounding environment will be key to success. For example, performing a takedown on a target in the sand dunes at nighttime will require different skills than those needed to escape rivals amid NYC traffic.
To add to the already rich experience, players will have access to a large range of vehicle types, all cars being licensed from well-known manufacturers. And just like in the real world, we know that people get attached to their car, so we really encourage players to create a unique bond with their vehicles. This means that you will earn new vehicles as you progress, and tune them to fit your style and take them on any terrain. For the first time in a driving game, THE CREW lets the players take the fullstock cars and totally play with them : get them dirty, smash them up, warp them into raid vehicles, do insane jumps… all this you can do in our game! This is a tailored experience that the player shapes and adapts to his play style, reflected by their unique customized cars.
With this unique take on car customization, in this unprecedented playground, we want players to feel, for the first time in a driving game, the surprise of exploring a new landscape, the wonder of discovering a well- known landmark – feelings that will make gamers want to stay in our world and come back for more.
In terms of handling, THE CREW offers an action-driving type of gameplay, and we’re focusing our efforts to recreate believable driving sensations no matter the terrain.
In a nutshell, this is driving at its most exciting, varied and open, for veteran drivers & newcomers alike.
5. How does blending the single player and multiplayer modes change the experience?
In THE CREW, you are part of an online world, with other drivers around you. The choice is yours to play on your own in this living world, or to team up on the go with friends to accomplish collective challenges. It’s a brand new driving game experience unlike anything that’s come before it.
First, in the game’s universe, the experience is entirely customizable. You always have someone next to you, ready to jump into new challenges either with you or against you. You can decide to play a mission on your own, then change your mind and invite a friend to play it with you, or join a friend on the go to help him out on a mission you’ve already mastered, or just free-ride with old and new friends to discover one of the real world landmarks we’ve recreated. THE CREW offers you the freedom to tailor your experience at will.
THE CREW is a long-lasting experience with constant challenges for players to beat. Each time you enter the game world, you are notified of all your friends’ achievements that have occurred in your absence – new scores to beat, missions completed, etc.
Finally, always having other live players around you stimulates your progression. In every mission and challenge, there is someone to compare yourself to, someone to beat, someone to inspire you and take you further. Imagine you just earned a vehicle and you run into a player’s far more advanced dream machine version of that same vehicle. You can’t help but think about what you can do to earn more XP and car parts so you can upgrade your car to compete with him on equal terms the next time you meet.
6. Why did you choose to develop THE CREW exclusively on next-gen consoles? What did this allow you to do, that you could not have done on the previous generation of consoles?
The core gameplay elements and the universe of THE CREW are really tailored to the new platforms unique capabilities.
First, we are developing a totally new type of social experience on consoles, that exploits the advanced level of connectivity at the core of the new platforms: having players around you but allowing you to play with them only if you want to; joining your friends on-the-go without having lobbies or menus; being able to play the whole campaign on your own or cooperatively, chatting with friends about new encounters, getting notifications on their latest achievements to beat them, participating in community events organized in- game… Everything is done to make you feel you’re part of a living world that keeps you entertained, whatever your play style is.
In addition, the size of our game universe is quite impressive, as players will be able to drive all across a massive recreation of the USA. What makes it unique to new platforms is that this world offers an unprecedented level of details, of quality and density, thanks to hand-made composition, and a fluidity that gamers are more used to experiencing in scripted linear titles with limited environment scope.
7. Most next-gen games propose a second-screen experience, what are the plans for THE CREW?
Players are busy people. We can’t expect a player to keep tabs or stay involved with a gaming world solely through the console experience. So we see a game world where peripheral, complimentary experiences, based on casual play, provide a whole different window onto the same game. We intend to allow Players to be able to do all their building, organizing, and trading away from the console, so valuable time spent in front of the console can be spent immersed in the pure adrenal delight of the core experience. We will provide more details later on the tablet experience, but what we’re showing at E3 is the ability to customize your car in a very accessible way, so that you’re all set for new challenges when you return to gaming on your home console.
8. Who is developing the game?
Ivory Tower is leading the development of THE CREW.
Ivory Tower was created in 2007 with one purpose: gather a unique team of talents to reinvent the driving game experience in online open worlds. Five years later, our 100 strong team now gathers an incredible selection of veterans from widely acclaimed franchises such as Test Drive® Unlimited, V-Rally, Need for Speed™ and Driver.
We’re very proud to finally unveil our redefinition for driving games: massive, connected, tailored.
Ubisoft Studios have been a major support to Ivory Tower, with a close collaboration with many Ubisoft studios across the world: Reflections, Shanghai, Chengdu, Bucharest and Pune.
9. What are the team’s inspirations?
First of all, the team is composed of real car fans. Name any type of car, and you’ll find someone in the team who is passionate and knowledgeable about it. This is why we are so keen on creating a game that offers such a large range of vehicle types, and such a detailed customization system.
Secondly, the core team members have been working together for more than 15 years now, and all our previous projects are driving games – of any type, action-driving games like racing simulations. So as a team we have grown together, developed our expertise together… and we’ve also played together – a lot ! We’ve played many games – particularly RPGs, not to mention driving games. As gamers, we’ve been impressed by World of Warcraft’s gameplay depth, combined with accessible rules.
So we have dreamt of a driving game that would offer an easy to pick-up, yet hard to master experience, encompassing everything we love: beautiful cars of course, a huge open world, an RPG-like progression with an accessible customization system, and always friends around, to challenge or to play with. All ingredients that we think will allow us to renew the driving genre with THE CREW.
10. What makes ‘RPG progression’ in The Crew stand out from progression systems of other driving games?
Every car is a 19-piece puzzle that you can customize and upgrade at will as you unlock body and performance parts along your progression. During our campaign you will be introduced to 5 different tuning specs (street, dirt, perf, raid, circuit) that enable you to perform better and venture on unexplored or previously impracticable terrains. What really sets us apart is that you will have the ability to upgrade your car to adapt to completely different driving grounds like in no other driving game.
This system also offers you to make your car performance evolve as you gain experience, for always more thrilling sensations. Taking your full stock Camaro SS 2010 to a racing tuned Camaro SS 2010 really delivers a different type of adrenaline.
On top of that the player will be able to choose between a wide range of perks according to his driving style: one perk will make your car more robust, if you have an aggressive play style; another will allow you to reduce the damage inflicted by opponents.
11. What happens if the player doesn’t have the tuning spec necessary to accomplish a given mission?
In a massive open world like the one of THE CREW, we think it’s key to guide player’s progression so that he never feels lost or bored. There will be an incentive to progress through the 5 main areas of the game, and each region unlocked will offer new content, including a new tuning kit that the player will be able to equip his car with, and that will be adapted to the missions specificities in this new area. So there will never be a case where the gamer doesn’t have the right tuning spec for the mission he is about to jump in.
12. What happens when players have reached the maximum level of experience (LVL 50)?
We have more surprises coming for him, with end game content. We will give more details later in our communication, but rest assured we’re working hard on designing a game that will keep gamers engaged for a long time.
13. THE CREW requires to be always on which allows the environment to be populated by an ever growing number of players. How do you manage server capacity in this respect?
In current MMOs, server loads generate extra costs at the expense of gamers and force developers to split the community between different servers. We developed a proprietary technology that tackles the escalating server population problem by combining peer-to-peer and server-to-client communication. This enables us to get rid of traditional constraints and let gamers from everywhere join our world at no extra cost with a high level of interactions between players. This way we make sure that all players throughout the world can play together without any limitations.
14. Taking into account the gamers’ outcry regarding always online requirements, are you still confident The Crew will find its audience?
We believe that a living world, populated by other players, that continuously evolves while you’re away from it, to propose you new challenges when you come back to it, is much more valuable for gamers.
Driving is all about competition. Imagine a player has just set a new record; other connected players will be notified and the next thing they’ll want to do is to beat this score. So when the first player will be back in the game, of course he’ll want to make things right again! With THE CREW we’re bringing a new type of cooperative driving experience. Imagine a player’s been struggling in a solo mission, and he finds out that one of his friends has just succeeded to it, so he’s going to ask for his help and they’ll play the mission together, all this being a seamless experience, no need to leave the game ! These are only a couple of things that couldn’t happen in an offline game.
15. When is the game coming out?
THE CREW is planned for release early 2014.