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?
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.