Developed by Ivory Tower and published by Ubisoft, The Crew Motorfest is the third and so far, easily the best title in the franchise so far. Unlike the first two The Crew titles, for the third release, Ivory Tower has decided to focus on a single location and tone down the map instead of adding the whole of the US into the game. This seems to have played out for the best since this has allowed them to work on other elements of the game such as the technical side and the overall handling model of the game, which has really paid off. This is our review of the Xbox Series X version of The Crew Motorfest in which we explore beautiful Hawai’i and drive some of the coolest cars ever made.
The Crew Motorfest starts off with a little introductory race where you get to drive some of the best vehicles found in the game. This serves as a tutorial and also gives you a taste of what you can expect from the upcoming titles. However, one thing I found missing during this tutorial bit is the addition of bikes, planes, or even boats. These are a huge element and bonus of playing The Crew Motorfest because very few open-world games offer bikes let alone boats and planes and missing them during this introductory mission is a big loss for the game. Someone who is new to this franchise will take a long time in order to finally get their hands on these vehicles just because the game decided to keep them under the radar. After completing the introductory mission, you pick up your first vehicle for the game and then you are introduced to The Crew Motorfest’s main focus of the career, the Playlists.
This time around, your Career in The Crew Motorfest is determined by different Playlists which serve as main missions that you can complete to unlock and understand new gameplay mechanics of the game. These Playlists are based around particular car types, car cultures from around the world or even a particular brand like Porche or Lamborghini. One of the Playlists, Made in Japan allows you to race in different Japanese-themed races in iconic Japanese vehicles and it gives you a starter course of different race types in The Crew Motorfest like Touge, Drift, Drag, Sprint, and Circuit racing. After you activate a Playlist, it will unlock its main events, Feats, and different photo ops. From there, you can complete a playlist to unlock its events for Custom Mode.
These Playlists are a really fun way to not only jump into the competition but also explore the theme properly and I mean really properly. For example, the Made in Japanese theme not only allows you to drive Japanese vehicles but the race events are designed in the correct theme as well. The whole stage, the checkpoints, the props, everything changes to the theme of the currently activated Playlist, and it just creates an amazing vibe. The Vintage Garage turns off any sort of assistance like GPS and map and forces you to follow the path using pictures. The checkpoints in the Liberty Walk Playlist are gigantic spoilers. These little details are just amazing, and you can actually listen to what the narrators are telling you. These are accompanied by short videos as well that go into great detail about those particular themes.
I can easily say that these Playlists are tons more fun than Forza Horizon 5. One of the direct comparisons that you can make between the two titles is the collaboration with Donut Media. The one featured in The Crew Motorfest is miles better and it is presented in a much better way as well. The events are realistic and believable, unlike the time-constraint point A to point B events of Forza Horizon 5. These events are so much fun, and you can enjoy them at your own pace. There are no annoying time trials here this time around. You feel more engaged with the hosts and the events are a lot better. It is just one example, and the remaining Playlists are equally fun as well. Ivory Tower will be moving forward by adding new Playlists to the game as well with Hoonigan arriving in Season 2 and I think that this is a great way of adding new content to the game.
Apart from the main events, the island of Hawai’i is filled with tons of other activities to do as well. Unlocked with each Playlist activation, you will find new Feats scattered around the map which will allow you to complete different challenges such as Speedtraps, Escape, Low Altitude, Buoys, Slalom, and much more. These are short challenges that you can try and complete while in the freeroam and just driving around in your favorite vehicle. For most of the playlists, you will find these conveniently placed between the paths of different events so you can just complete them while you are driving to the next main event of your playlist. There are also different Photo Ops which are photography challenges that you can complete. These simple challenges will require specific times, specific locations, and specific vehicles and can be completed fairly easily.
This brings me to the main change in The Crew Motorfest, instead of bringing the entire map of the USA back to life, Ubisoft has toned down the map, and this time around, the game is set in the game’s own version of the O’AHU. This beautiful island map sets the stage for the racing festival taking place in The Crew Motorfest and it is a combination of all of the different islands found in Hawai’i. This gives us a map that is diverse enough to keep things interesting and presents a different scene every few miles. O’AHU features long beaches, dense rain forests, mountains, urban areas, fields, volcano slopes, meadows, and even dry areas where there is very little foliage. All of these biomes combine together to deliver a beautiful island that is perfect for an open-world racer like The Crew Motorfest.
Different challenges are scattered all over the island and as you explore it, you will find many secrets here as well such as treasure chests which give you bonus items if you can find them using the game’s radar. As you drive around, you will also be able to earn what the game calls Dynamic Freestyle XP. This is collected when you perform different activities while driving like near misses, or reach high speeds, perform burnouts or drifts. Another cool aspect that is brought forward from The Crew 2 is the ability to switch between your car, boat, and plane at any time while driving around. This is one of my favorite in-game mechanics and it helps massively in navigating the map.
This brings me to the next aspect of The Crew Motorfest and that is the vehicle lineup, and I can easily say that if you love vehicles, The Crew Motorfest is not going to disappoint you in any way. Although the collection is not as diverse as Forza Horizon 5, but it certainly has tons of amazing vehicles in different categories. Just like most racing games these days, there are different performance electric vehicles in the game like the 2022 Lotus Evija, the 2021 Porsche Taycan S, and the out-of-this-world 2017 Lamborghini Terzo Melliennio. Apart from the electric lineup, you will find tons of different brands like Ferrari, BMW, Bugatti, Dodge, Ford, KTM, Harley-Davidson, Suzuki, Toyota, and more in the game each offering its own unique range of vehicles.
As I mentioned earlier, The Crew Motorfest also has bikes in two categories, performance and off-road, bikes, boats, Monster Trucks, and tons of different conversions of regular vehicles to suit their usage in different events like off-road, drift, rally, and more. At launch, The Crew Motorfest has over 600 vehicles however they are not that diverse because there are different versions of the same car in nearly all of the brands however new vehicles will continue to arrive in the game post-launch, and it is interesting to see that the developers have planned for it in the future when it comes to vehicles. The car customization is pretty decent with some cool options like bodykits, rims, front and back bumpers, and even vinyls. Performance upgrades are not too detailed and simply give you a performance rating boost when you unlock them via races and apply them to your vehicle, but it is surely there. The vehicle sounds are absolutely insane and one of the best ones out there no questions asked.
The Online bit of The Crew Motorfest includes different types of races including the Grand Race, Demotion Ryale, Summit Contest, and the Custom Show. The Grand Race is simply the most basic type of race that you can expect in The Crew Motorfest. It allows up to 28 players to race at the same time with collisions allowed and the track is randomized every time that you take part in it. These races are purely chaotic as you can expect from the online section of any racing game as there is plenty of rubbing, hitting and people driving you off the track in order to win. The winning conditions are simple here, just cross the racing line first and you will be the winner. You can bring any vehicle to these races and if you are looking for casual, online racing, this is where you will be spending a lot of your time.
If you want something different, Demolition Royale is some sort of a Fortnite-inspired battle royale mode of The Crew Motorfest where 32 players in the form of eight crews jump into a limited area and pick a landing spot while flying around in a plane. After landing, you must find pickups to make your vehicles stronger and then take out rival crews. The final crew left is the winner. The zone shrinks regularly so you have to be on the move. This is the most fun mode of the game if you have friends to play the game with. If you do some real damage to your opponents, you can fill up your gauge and temporarily transform your vehicle into a Monster Truck for some ultimate damage dishing.
The Summit Contest is sort of like Forza Horizon 5’s weekly Festival Playlist where you will find different PvE challenges to complete, and they are changed after 1 week. You will find a unique theme in the Summit Contest as well and at the end, the Summit Contest will let you nab a unique vehicle for your collection as well. During these races and events, you will need particular vehicles with particular performance specs, so these are a great way to enhance your gameplay hours and garage while exploring more content that the game has to offer. Finally, if you are proud of your creations, you can display them on the Main Stage for one week where players from around the world can vote for their favorite and it might move to the top 10 section of the Main Stage.
While there is plenty to explore in the Online bit of The Crew Motorfest, what I don’t like about it is the wait times. It was understandable when the game just came out and during my initial hours, I was playing during the Early Access for Ultimate Owners only so that might have been the reason for slow servers and matchmaking but even now, it takes a lot of time to find online games and during this time, you are just sitting there and watching on the screen when you could have driven around and had some fun, exploring the island and what not. The menu is a little confusing as well for new players and I prefer the much simplistic Festival Menu of Forza Horizon 5. It may be because we have adjusted to it since it came out two years ago, but we will just have to wait and see if Ubisoft decides to switch it up later based on feedback.
Technically, The Crew Motorfest runs pretty decent on the Xbox Series X. There are two modes that you can choose, the Performance Mode which aims at 60 FPS but if you prefer, the Fidelity Mode which targets visual candy over frames. I only played in Performance Mode since I prefer silky smooth gameplay and I am happy to say that the game performs really well on the Xbox Series X. Even during the most visually intensive areas, I did not notice any sort of performance dips. The visuals still look gorgeous, and I love the audio mixing as well because the soundtrack gives out more detail in The Crew Motorfest as compared to Forza Horizon 5. There were some annoying bugs such as wobbly traffic cars but other than these, I did not notice anything game-breaking or even that bad with the game. The servers could be improved because loading into the game takes a while but once you are in the game, you are all set.
Right from the start, you will notice that The Crew Motorfest seems inspired by Forza Horizon 5 in a lot of ways, especially the whole racing festival vibe, but Forza Horizon seems to have found its own ground where you take part in a racing festival every year in a different location. On the other hand, Ubisoft is still trying to find the right grounds for the basis of The Crew as the first game was all about forming crews and street racing, the second title, The Crew 2 changed it up and introduced legal, circuit racing instead and the third title is now set on a much smaller scale and follows a racing festival organized by the island. While this experimentation might be good for research, The Crew is now in its third variation, and we are now seeing another completely different theme for the title. At this point, Ubisoft should decide how they want to proceed with the franchise because one wrong decision might kill this franchise as well and we all know what EA is doing with Need for Speed. Constant experimentation has ruined the franchise and it would be sad to see The Crew going down this very road as well.
Still, The Crew Motorfest is in no way a bad racing game. Instead, it is one of the best and ever since I received its review key, I have spent hundreds of hours into it, grinding my way through the single-player Playlists, completing custom events, and a little bit of online. To be honest, I prefer the online element of Forza Horizon 5 over The Crew Motorfest. It is much easier to jump into online racing in Forza Horizon 5 and there are no boring lobbies and wait times because while the game looks for a session, you are free to just drive around and even enter menus while in The Crew Motorfest, you have to sit and wait for players to finally join in because you can start playing a game. There are other issues with this online connectivity as well and that is the slow start-up of the game. There are two menus and the main stage area to skip before you finally start driving unlike Forza Horizon 5 which uses Quick Resume, and you can jump back into the driving seat almost instantly after switching to a different game.
The Crew franchise has come a long way since the original The Crew since its release and I am extremely happy with how The Crew Motorfest is in its current state. It is a major update in nearly all of the aspects. The vehicle handling has improved massively, the world design is much better, the Playlists are a great way to understand the different car types and cultures and the vehicles sound as amazing as always. The visuals are gorgeous, especially during the themed Playlist races and the overall design of Hawai’i is just beautiful as well. Personally, I would like a little more work done on the handling of the vehicles as I am not a big fan of the slidey-handling too much but in The Crew Motorfest, it feels a lot better still when compared to the previous title. It is certainly my racing game of the year so far unless Forza Motorsport just blows my mind away but for now, I will stick with The Crew Motorfest.
The Crew Motorfest is the most refined and the best title in the franchise so far and it can easily go head-to-head with modern arcade racing games. This shows that Ivory Tower is on the right path and is making good decisions for the franchise. While it may not be perfect, The Crew Motorfest certainly feels like a big step forward from The Crew 2, and with its fun-filled Playlists to a vibrant and colorful color palette, solid soundtrack, and amazing vehicle lineup, The Crew Motorfest is going to keep the fans busy for a long period of time. The microtransactions right from the launch surely feel like a bad decision and one that Ubisoft is simply unable to shake off but if you love grinding racing games, that aspect of the game may never appeal to you anyway. If you love arcade racing games and are looking to take a break from Forza Horizon 5, The Crew Motorfest brings its fresh set of ideas in a delightful location and brilliant racing action. This is certainly going into the list of the best racing games. If you are looking for a racing game that features a beautiful location, has an amazing list of soundtrack, and allows you to drive some of the best vehicles ever produced, The Crew Motorfest is highly recommended for you.