Ubisoft's excellent open-world racing game The Crew is free to download on PC from mid-September.
Digital Foundry on the game's visual revamp - and how well Xbox One and PS4 handle it.
Gameplay and impressions of Ubisoft's open world expansion.
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Well this is a pleasant surprise - at least if you, like me, unfashionably insist that Ivory Tower's open-world racing MMO The Crew is an underrated gem. Publisher Ubisoft has just announced a second expansion, Calling All Units, to be released on 29th November.
As you would guess from the title, Calling All Units has a police theme that takes players out of their undercover-cop crime duds and puts them in those souped-up police supercars that only exist in video games (and, perhaps, Dubai).
Unlike the previous and rather underwhelming expansion Wild Run, Calling All Units will feature new story campaign missions and introduce a new level cap of 60.
It's been a long and winding road for The Crew. Despite attracting decent reviews at launch, there was a sense that the game was somewhat overlooked - a situation developer Ivory Tower sought to address with the recent release of the Wild Run expansion. Originally a cross-gen release with visual technology to match, the Wild Run expansion upgrades The Crew's rendering tech to current-gen standards and boasts a whole host of gameplay updates to match.
There's new content too, including extra vehicles and new missions but more importantly, Ivory Tower has also spent a considerable amount of time rebalancing gameplay. Car handling and physics are tweaked, with improved aerodynamics and grip. While the additional gameplay content (featuring new missions and vehicles) requires a DLC purchase, all of the visual upgrades are available for free for existing owners of the old game via the latest software update. In essence, there's a massive revamp here that revitalises the title in key areas - if you're an existing owner of The Crew, now might be the time to dig out the game and give it a whirl.
In fact, owing to the online-only nature of the title, it's now impossible to play the original version of The Crew. This makes sense given how much the online component is integrated into the core of the game, but going into this piece, our questions were pretty straightforward: how much does the technical upgrade affect the core gameplay experience and do both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One benefit equally from the revamped technology?
First things first: you should play The Crew. It's wonderful, honestly. If, like me, you glossed over it last year because you were already playing Forza Horizon 2, or because you'd heard the online service was flaky at launch (it was), or because you were in a sulk with publisher Ubisoft over Assassin's Creed Unity, now is the perfect time to correct that.
The Crew: Wild Run
Ubisoft has kindly provided us with 1000 PC closed beta keys for The Crew Wild Run, an expansion pack for last year's open-world racing game, to give away.
The beta is currently ongoing and finishes Monday 19th October, so you could be tearing around a virtual North America this coming weekend.
We are running a sweepstake giveaway from now until 10am UK time on Friday 16th October. Winners will be selected on Friday, with the lucky 1000 able to redeem their keys at http://thecrewgame.com/beta. The codes are for PC only.
Back when The Crew launched at the tail-end of last year, I felt like we were pretty much alone in enjoying the open world online racer, but it turns out we weren't the only ones turned on by the Test Drive Unlimited spiritual successor. Some 3 million people have played it, apparently, and it's done well enough not only for Ubisoft to acquire developer Ivory Tower, but also for a significant expansion to be prepped for release this November.
Ubisoft has bought the developer behind racing game The Crew.
Ubisoft has released a new Gamescom trailer detailing what its open-world "CarPG" The Crew will be getting between its Wild Run expansion and future updates.
First off, Wild Run will add motorbikes to the driving game. There will also be three new car classes with Dragsters, Monster Trucks and Drift Vehicles.
Outside of Wild Run, the core game will be getting dynamic weather effects and enhanced graphics including increased depth of field.
Ubisoft has launched a two-hour trial of its open world racer The Crew.
The time-limited version launched on PlayStation 4 last night, while Xbox One users can expect it today.
Rather than a simple demo, the trial will gift you a full version of the game - which means a 14GB download on PlayStation 4 or 16GB on Xbox One.
The Crew is an astonishing achievement. The game world takes care of that single-handedly, offering the entirety of the continental United States, masterfully compressed and pruned into a playable, driveable space. But it's not the vastness that's impressive, it's the level of fidelity and the authenticity of its character.
Cities and towns are oversized, compared to the network of roads and acres of countryside between them, but that's in order to make each one a convincing, recognisable and explorable space in and of itself. Dallas might never be the sole inspiration for an open world game, for example, but here you can roll through the dust-skirted suburbs as the downtown skyscrapers rise to meet you. What's more every location, regardless of size or significance, feels hand-crafted, with appropriate architecture, distinctive buildings and local flora and fauna.
Between those more populous areas, on the highways and byways, The Crew is an ode to the great American road trip. Not one in particular, nor just the ones cherry picked by Hollywood or Kerouac, but all of them. At once.
Ubisoft's The Crew has entered the UK all-formats chart in sixth place.
As the year draws to an end, there's a sense that the gap between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is narrowing in terms of technical specifics in high-profile software. With The Crew, once again we see both console releases handing in a full 1080p presentation, and in common with a smattering of titles seen recently, the Microsoft hardware hands in some slender performance wins over its Sony counterpart. Of course, we've already gone over the basics of The Crew in the performance analysis posted earlier this week, but there's still plenty to cover, not least of which the quality of the PC version of the game.
We were hoping to hammer down the specifics of the bizarre anti-aliasing technology used in The Crew, but its full technical make-up remains something of a mystery. In truth, whether we're talking console or PC, this is one of weakest elements of the game's visual make-up. For now, we still think the console games utilise a variant of the HRAA solution used in Far Cry 4. We were impressed with how this new anti-aliasing technique performed in Ubisoft's open-world shooter, but the results in The Crew are very poor with the effect failing to tackle aliasing to any great degree across the scene - a lot of the time it simply looks broken. HRAA wasn't perfect on Far Cry 4, but it showed great promise. We're not entirely sure what's going on here, but if this is indeed HRAA, something has gone very wrong in its implementation.
The end results are noticeably better on PS4, where it appears that more samples are used during the blending process, although the effect breaks down more often than on Xbox One, making image quality seem worse than on the Microsoft system when this happens. However, while anti-aliasing isn't exactly great on PS4, overall coverage is better, and Xbox One often looks as though no AA is being applied at all. This is clearly demonstrated in our head-to-head video below, which shows just how much break-up occurs on small and distant objects.
So many games fail to live up to their promise, but The Crew may be one of the first to struggle to live up to its own name. Ubisoft's newly released driving game takes its title from the ability to form squads of friends to drive around the vast, open-world digest of America that developer Ivory Tower has created. It's a feature introduced in a day one patch, and - some 24 hours after the game's launch - it's one that remains temperamental at best.
The question of performance has dominated the Q4 games line-up this year, with Ubisoft at the centre of controversy owing to the disappointing showing from Assassin's Creed Unity. However, the slick, polished Far Cry 4 demonstrated that the firm can get it right: a rock-solid 30fps makes all the difference, and while open-world racer The Crew isn't quite as robust overall, it's still a creditable enough showing on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
What's curious about this game is that two different studios are handling development duties. In charge of the DirectX 11 versions - PC and Xbox One - we have the game's creators, Ivory Tower. It's a new development studio staffed by many veterans from Eden Games, developers of the Test Drive Unlimited titles. Meanwhile, the PlayStation 4 version is handled by Reflections, working directly from the Ivory Tower codebase (we covered the ins and outs of the porting process last year).
Despite the unusual allocation of development resources, the end result is a multi-platform project much like any other in the modern era, featuring far more in the way of similarities than striking differences. To cut to the chase, both versions hand in fairly solid 30fps performance levels, each operating at a native resolution of 1080p. An adaptive v-sync is in play on both systems, meaning that when the engine runs over its render budget, screen-tear manifests on-screen. It isn't consistently impactful to the experience by any stretch of the imagination, but what's clear is that tearing is more frequent on PlayStation 4. For its part, although Xbox One tears less often, very occasionally it simply drops entire frames instead.
Today marks the release of Ivory Tower and Ubisoft's The Crew - what a day to be alive! - and we're celebrating such a momentous occasion with a livestream from 5pm. What do you mean you're not excited about the game? Well I wasn't either, but those who have got over their apathy and put the disc in the drive tell me there's a half decent game there, somewhere. We'll have more thoughts for you tomorrow ahead of our review next week.
The Crew will receive an open beta on PS4 and Xbox One running from 25th-27th November, Ubisoft has announced.
There have already been a couple of beta tests for The Crew, resulting in Ubisoft's upcoming "CarPG" being played by over a million people, but these early trials were closed and required signing up and receiving a code. This one, however, is open to all.
Like the previous beta tests, this one is limited to two of the game's five regions (the East Coast and Midwest to be specific). Elsewhere, two of the five spec classes, Street and Dirt, will be included in the beta.
Drop an extra £19.99 on The Crew and you can pick up the game's Season Pass, which will grant access to another 14 vehicles.
Two exclusive cars (the McLaren 12C and Ferrari 458 Speciale) will be available to Season Pass holders at launch.
Four packs of three new cars will then follow on each month from the start of 2015.
UPDATE 7/11/14 11.30am:
Having been tasked with writing about driving games for much of the past six years, I'm likely the first to admit that the world has run out of driving game puns - well, the wheely good ones have, anyway. So I'm not going to bother, and am instead going to cut straight to the (car!) chase.
We've got 2400 beta keys to give away for The Crew, thanks to Ubisoft. They're for both Xbox One and PS4 - you'll be given the option to choose between the formats once you get your key - and the beta runs from November 6th through to the 10th. OMG that's this week! You'll have to be quick off the draw - you'll have to register the keys we hand out with Ubisoft by 11pm on the 6th, and we'll be mailing out our allocation to the lucky recipients early tomorrow afternoon.
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Ubisoft has announced the minimum, recommended and optimal PC specifications for its open-world driving game The Crew, which is due out on 2nd December.
Ubisoft's open-world "Car PG" The Crew will enter its second and final beta between 6th and 10th November.
To participate you need to register for the beta on either PS4 or Xbox One on The Crew's official site. While technically a closed beta, Ubisoft noted that it "will be accessible to all Xbox Live and PlayStation Network members; however some online features will require an Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus membership."
While The Crew will allow players free reign over a miniaturised version of the United States, the beta will be limited to two regions: the East Coast and Midwest. Classes too will be limited to Street and Dirt, while the final game will feature five types to choose from.
Ubisoft's upcoming open-world racing game The Crew will be 30 frames per second on PS4 and Xbox One, but its developer has said that it's not going to stop PC users from adjusting the frame-rate based on their hardware - as many did with the beta that came with an artificial 30 fps lock.
Ubisoft's upcoming open-world racing game The Crew is now due to be released worldwide on 2nd December for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Xbox 360.
The Crew was originally set for an 11th November release, but you know how these things go. Better late and polished than early and unfinished, eh? And on the plus side, there will be a second closed console beta for The Crew sometime in November (making it the fourth beta test overall, since the first two were PC-exclusive).
"We received a lot of valuable information from the recent PC and console betas," said creative director Julian Gerighty on the Ubisoft Blog. "We are now scrutinising all of the player feedback so we can ensure that The Crew delivers the seamless open-world experience that meets everyone's high expectations."
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners will be able to access a closed beta test for The Crew from Tuesday, 30th September, publisher Ubisoft has announced.
The invite-only console test follows earlier beta access for the game on PC during both July and August.
There's no word yet on a beta for The Crew's upcoming Xbox 360 edition.
Greetings, Eurogamers. Now it is September, I realise I should have booked some kind of holiday. Mike seems fine; he has apparently been on an American road trip. This is weird, because he hasn't left his flat in weeks.
UPDATE: Ubisoft has changed tack and said it is "aiming" for 60fps for the launch version of The Crew on PC.
Ubisoft has offered its reasoning for why there will be an Xbox 360 port of its open world racer The Crew but no version for PlayStation 3 or Wii U.
The Crew, Ubisoft's open-world online racing game for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, will be released on 11th November, it was announced at the French publisher's E3 press conference today. (That may mean 14th November in Europe.)
Creative director Julian Gerighty also announced that the game's closed beta will begin on July 23rd. You can sign up for a chance of joining in at thecrewgame.com/beta.
A new, moody time-lapse trailer was shown, showcasing a single, two-hour mission that takes you all the way from Miami to Los Angeles - check it out below.
"At E3, people forbid me to say 'MMO'. The marketing teams were like, 'Don't say that. Don't say that.' It's crazy." Julian Gerighty is a former marketer himself, who worked his way up to a senior position in IP development at Ubisoft's Paris headquarters before jumping (or possibly parachuting) into development. Now he's a creative director at Lyon studio Ivory Tower and the well-spoken and enthusiastic spokesman for its ambitious online driving game, The Crew. He seems to enjoying himself on the other side of the fence.
2014 is upon us, and it promises riches and glory unlike any year before it. With their launches under their belts, the next generation of consoles will, hopefully, show us what they're made of. Virtual reality headsets may make their mark on the mainstream. And with a raft of crowdfunded games due out over the next 12 months, 2014 should tell us whether all that money we pumped into promising projects on Kickstarter was worth it.
Ubisoft's upcoming open-world racing game The Crew has been delayed from early 2014 until Q3 of next year on PS4 , Xbox One and PC.
Uplay, Ubisoft's digital platform, has been confirmed for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Uplay will be available on all the titles in Ubisoft's next-generation lineup, which includes Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, The Crew, The Division and Watch Dogs.
Also set for next-gen consoles are the recently announced Child of Light, Valiant Hearts and Trials Fusion.
When Black Rock and Bizarre Creations shut down in 2011 on the back of dismal sales for Split/Second and Blur, a lot of us forecast doom and gloom for arcade racing. Two years later, though, there are still plenty of developers trying to make it work. EA still has the Need for Speed, even spinning up a studio in Gothenburg to focus on it, while Bugbear Entertainment has just announced a new racing game due out in early 2014.
Eye-catching PlayStation 4 and Xbox One open-world game The Division will launch towards the end of 2014, Ubisoft has said.
The game's release window was narrowed by Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot during an investor call last night.
The Crew, a co-production between Ivory Tower and Ubisoft Reflections, is nearer release. Ubisoft expects it to launch during Q1 2014 - so, by April next year.
Ubisoft Reflections rounded off day two of last week's Develop conference with an intriguing talk, tantalisingly entitled "Tips and Tricks for Porting to Next-Gen". For Digital Foundry, it was a must-see presentation primarily because the vast majority - and perhaps even all - of the multi-platform games we'll be playing on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 by the end of the year have been derived from PC code, necessitating some level of porting across to the new hardware.
The bombastic E3 show floor was packed with open-world games.