Released at the tail end of 2014, The Crew served as a fitting conclusion to a tumultuous 2014 for Ubisoft. The Ivory Tower developed racer had plenty of potential, as its replica of the United States promised a massive playground for drivers to toy around with. Unfortunately, thanks to some questionable design decisions and troublesome glitches, the title was unable to reach its full potential. After less than impressive reviews from critics, and underwhelming sales, it appeared that the ride was already over for the game.
Surprisingly, though, Ubisoft unveiled The Crew: Wild Run at their E3 conference earlier this year. Despite the presence of a season pass already available for the title, Wild Run is a full-fledged expansion pack. While the original release focused mostly street and dirt racing, the expansion pack introduces three new types of challenges for racers to indulge in. Coinciding with the release of the DLC, Ivory Tower has also released a new update for the original game, which can be downloaded for free.
As mentioned, Wild Run introduces three new vehicle specs for players to test drive. Of the three new types, drag cars are probably the most familiar. For the uninformed, drag races are basically straightforward drives that push the limits of how fast a driver can go. It would have been easy enough for Ivory Tower to just have players hold down the acceleration for the entirety of the race, but the studio did implement a few mini-games to keep things fresh. First, you’ll need to warm your tires up, followed by going as soon as the light hits green. From there, you’ll just need to shift gears at the appropriate times. It’s nothing too groundbreaking or deep, but the sense of speed and adrenaline is almost unparalleled.
Another familiar new car spec is that of the drift car. Drifting was already a very important component of racing in the core game, but Wild Run has newly designed challenges based around your drifting ability. Tasking players with driving around twisting rain slicked roads and treacherous mountain terrains, drifting can be an incredibly difficult experience. As someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy making whiplash-inducing turns, this mode wasn’t exactly up my alley. I can understand the appeal of it, but I would prefer to get my speed fix from either traditional races or drag racing.
The most exciting addition, monster trucks, also happens to be the most radically different mode introduced for The Crew. Instead of the traditional race, these challenges place drivers in massive courses that look more like a level from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater than a boring old course. Players can drive around courses filled with halfpipes, ramps and massive loops, while searching for medallions with assorted point values on them to smash. Of the three new styles of play, monster trucks were by far my favorite. I have no problem with street racing, but driving around these Hot Wheels style tracks is an exhilarating change of pace.
As always, you are free to drive these new rides around the United States as much as you want, but the main draw for the expansion pack is the new Summit mode.
Scheduled to take place at various locations across the United States, The Summit is designed to push you to your driving limits. Using each of the three new specs, players can compete in assorted challenges against the other drivers in the world of The Crew. Besides the satisfaction that comes with being the best in the world, those that place well enough on The Summit will be rewarded with additional XP and vehicles that cannot be acquired any other way. In order to gain access to this mode, though, you’ll first need to either place high enough in a qualifying challenge, or pay the rather high entry fee. It’s a bit of a barrier for newcomers to the title, but with enough practice, it should be easy enough to place without dropping a ton of money.
Besides the three new specs used for The Summit, Wild Run also introduces a brand new vehicle: motorcycles. Whether you want to drive a chopper or a suped-up Ducati, there’s a bike out there for any type of rider. Bikes also come in several different variants, so if you want a bike tuned to the streets, or one outfitted for the dirt, you can get it. While the lack of challenges based around motorcycles is a tad disappointing, I do think these rides are better suited for just cruising around the United States. You don’t need to worry about being bounced off your two-wheeler mid-drive, and driving from coast to coast just seems much cooler from the seat of your motorcycle.
While nowhere near as sizeable as Wild Run, the free update released alongside it for The Crew does improve upon the core game in several ways. For starters, the title looks much better than it did when it was first released. Pop-ups have been significantly reduced, vehicles, both pristine and damaged, look great and a vast majority of the United States looks more realistic.
On top of the regular visual improvements, Ivory Tower also introduced a brand new weather system. I’m not going to say it looks as good as, say, Driveclub, but the various weather patterns add a nice bit of flavor to the game. Driving in the rain also adds a whole new challenge to racing, so you may need to be a bit more wary when you’re doing 200+ MPH, and need to make a sharp turn. Tying into that, this may have just been me, but steering as a whole felt much tighter this time around. This could just stem from the fact that it had been awhile since I last played, but it no longer felt like I was driving on a sheet of ice at all times.
For those that already own The Crew, I do think Wild Run has enough content to justify it’s $25 price tag. Provided Ivory Tower keeps up their end of the bargain and continues supporting The Summit, that is. Additionally, for those new to the game, the new Wild Run SKU is a great deal at $40. It comes with not only the base game and expansion pack, but also the previously released season pass. Sure, older adopters of the title are a bit screwed over when it comes to this deal, but that’s just the gaming landscape at this point in time. It sucks, but there’s little we can do about that at the moment, unfortunately.
I’ll be honest with you guys, I wasn’t exactly enamored with the idea of taking on The Crew: Wild Run. I was tasked with covering the original release back when it first came out, and I walked away very unimpressed. Some of my issues with the game still hold true, specifically the overbearing microtransactions and laughable story. Still, kudos has to be given to Ivory Tower for turning the game around from a broken down mess, to a relatively impressive little racer. So, if you’re like me, and walked away from the original release wondering what could have been, I recommend giving the title another test drive.
This review was based off the Xbox One version of the title, which we were provided with.
The $25 price tag may seem a little high, but thanks to exhilarating new races and massive improvements to the core game, The Crew: Wild Run more than justifies the asking price.