Last month, The Crew 2 received a major patch that included next-gen updates (although the performance mode is terrible) and dozens of new actions. A small problem in itself, as games are constantly being updated. The fact that the game is now in its fifth year is impressive, and the continued support since launch has turned The Crew 2 into a truly great racing game after its surprisingly poor start.
Five years after launch, it supports similar or even slightly higher numbers of concurrent players than it did at launch (according to SteamDB), with some impressive peaks in the last year or so. Meanwhile, its Steam review score has rebounded from “Mostly Negative” at launch to “Very Positive” after over 50,000 reviews.
Let’s take a look at the long and difficult journey to get to where she is today.
Playing The Crew 2 after release was an incredible experience. It was a pretty unique take on racing games – enough to position itself in a different place than Need for Speed or Forza. I mean to explore whole The United States on land, air and sea, with the ability to switch between cars, planes and boats at the touch of a button is pretty appealing, isn’t it? Unfortunately, most of the game’s vast world was relegated to barren blocks, and the quirk of dropping a car from the stratosphere wasn’t enough to make up for it.
There weren’t many things in the base game; you could drive for minutes without any activity. On the other hand, it was nice for cruising – cranking up the country music while driving those smooth American highways was a treat. However, it was mostly a dead world. It also made the racing clear as the tracks mostly just consisted of checkpoints in the world.
The Crew 2 had a non-linear narrative, which seemed right at first, since nobody cares about story in racing games. Most of them revolve around the cliche tropes of crime, the FBI, revenge, or the underworld — the first installment was also about revenge. Ubisoft replaced all of that with something a little more reassuring: social media engagement. Everything in the game was humble and “became legal”, which doesn’t sound very convincing, does it?
The biggest plus of the mostly barren lands of The Crew 2 was the incredible variety of different racing disciplines. The game had four disciplines: Street Racing, Freestyle, Offroad and Pro Racing. Each of them also had several different types of races, like Freestyle had Monster Truck, Aerobatics, and Jetsprint. This is something that the developers continued throughout the game’s post-release updates, with each content update adding something new. Some were chaotic moshpits, like Demolition Derby, which was added shortly after release, while others were all about pure speed and racing, like US Speed Tour, which was available last July..
But The Crew 2’s best mode since launch is Stories, added in March of this year. Stories encourage you to seek out landmarks scattered throughout the game world, with little hints like finding the “biggest yacht” or “cigar club.” The activity isn’t heavy, but it’s enough to quench any wanderlust. You often see other players trying to find landmarks also chasing the same stories. Sometimes you’re just exchanging emotes, sometimes you can find a travel buddy for the journey ahead – it’s a great casual form of multiplayer that contrasts with the usual competitive feel of racing games.
New content isn’t the only thing that makes the game better, as developer Ivory Tower continues to make quality-of-life changes and focus on game mechanics. Gradually, over time, the handling improved. There were a few graphical changes, such as improvements to color gradation, shadows, and visibility, and while they didn’t magically make the game look great, they certainly had an effect. In particular, the weather system has been improved, the snow now looks a little better, and the developers are aiming for a more realistic look. Most things like contrast, sky, reflection, color gradation have been changed in the latest update.
Crew 2 now has over 400+ vehicles and 100+ new activities and races since launch, and unlike the base games, they are a bit different from each other. It’s not anything like the return of No Man’s Sky or even Rainbow 6 Siege, but it’s going pretty well. Also, the game is still very arcadey and if you hate it, the updates still won’t convince you. But if you’re looking to have some fun, go on a long road trip with your squad, or run a massive race log, The Crew 2 is now in the best shape since its release.