I'm not cruising around inside The Crew's closed beta so I'm going to analyse the content based entirely on the video below. It's the video that has finally pulled back the curtain for me, revealing the man yanking the levers that create the illusion of 'open world driving'. What I've learned is that The Crew is very much in the Ubisoft open world mould, which means lots of icons scattered across a map, a thousand different tasks jostling for attention, and what looks like just enough connective tissue to tie focal points together. But is it a grander take on Burnout Paradise or something more akin to Assetto's Creed?
Admitting up front that I'm holding the initial promise to impossible standards, I find the map disappointing. It looks less like an open world United States and more like a Far Cry island, Watch_Dogs Chicago or Assassin's Creed city. The scale has increased, but the fast travel options and clusters of activities suggest that the places in between won't be quite as interesting or expansive as I'd hoped. This isn't to say that I'm not still hungry for The Crew - I'm simply retuning my expectations. I didn't expect the Ubi open world formula to fit quite so neatly onto a racing game so I expected the mould to mutate even if it didn't break entirely. Perhaps the formula can fit any kind of experience though - I await an open world Dance Dance Revolution reboot.
One other thing - 'RPG'. The man narrating The Crew beta video keeps using the term but I do not think it means what he thinks it means. Language is an ever-changing beast, sure, but are we really going to ignore the 'role' part of the equation entirely? As the ubiquitous Ubi design seems to understand the term, 'RPG' simply refers to levelling up, and unlocking loot and missions. Increasingly, with the busy UI and map screens, the only role we're playing is that of a collectible-obsessed gamer with the attention span of an inebriated chicken.
Anyone pootling about in the beta? Release date is November 11th, which is sooner than I thought. I tend to assume that everything shown at E3 won't be out for at least a year.