The Crew is breathtakingly ambitious. As I reported in our extensive hands-on preview, it's an attempt to blend MMORPGs and racing games together into a single package, set in a 5000km² adventure playground shaped and themed like the United States, with the ability to form persistent crews and factions with other players for competitive co-op. It's a brilliant idea, and one that could absolutely smash the genre wide open if it works.
However, there's an elephant in the room. Uplay. Ubisoft's digital platform has historically proved itself unfit for task during game launches, such as we saw with Watch Dogs and Far Cry 3, whereas The Crew hinges around its multiplayer as a core part of the experience. Will it hold up?
Naturally I made sure to pose the question to creative director Julian Gerighty.
"There are two things here," Gerighty told me. "One is the netcode, which the team is responsible for, and the other is Uplay, which is a separate program. For both of those, Uplay I'm confident in, and we've just done two beta tests on PC which were pure technical beta tests to check the scalability of our servers, to check how we can push different solutions, different patches, to fix little problems and big problems, and all of that is to reduce the hassles of a major launch. Which, you know, everybody faces issues, and it's about how fast we can react to them."
"We're doing a console beta in early October/end of September, and we'll test how things go on console there too. So I'm fairly confident in it."
Gerighty also told me that the PC beta has allowed them to improve the PC version with a 60FPS frame rate and 4K resolution, including output to three 4K screens.
As a massive open-ended racing game with a huge world, upgrades, numerous events, factions and even a storyline, The Crew has a huge number of moving parts -- and numerous potential avenues for success or abject failure. We're excited about its potential, if not its handling model, and look forward to seeing whether The Crew lives up to it on November 11th.
Or, in other words, Uplay had better work this time. Perhaps, dear reader, it might be worth holding off on a pre-order until we know one way or the other?
Further reading: Gamers, Start Your Engines! | The 2014 Racing Game Showdown