The Crew

I’m sure our accent in Detroit is off or something like that,” laughs Julian Gerighty, creative director on The Crew, discussing researching the game’s four prime cities: Detroit, NewYork, Miami and Los Angeles. “We don’t go to the same fanatical level of detail that Rockstar does for its games, for example. We’re not playing that card. But authenticity is important.

That means we did send people on road trips out there. The lucky ones got to go to Miami; the unlucky ones got to go to Detroit.” It’s here that developer Ivory Tower has on its hands something special. games has experienced bitesize chunks of what promises to be a vast world to explore; driving across the sprawling map of the continental USA refines the open-world driving game beyond the likes of Need For Speed and even Forza Horizon. The closest comparison is Test Drive Unlimited, which enabled players to race luxury sports cars as a wealthy brat across a to-scale recreation of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given that most of the team at its developer, Eden Games, formed Ivory Towers.

And Ivory continues the tradition of Test Drive Unlimited by giving the story an irreverent tone based somewhat on the real underground racing scene that the team researched. “The underground racing scene out [in Detroit] is still huge,” enthuses Gerighty. “All of these kids are passionate about cars, lots of Japanese cars, a few European for the guys that still have a lot of money. They street race all the time. That helped formthe tone  of The Crew.” It also helped the teamnail down some of the gameplay specifics. In the past Gerighty has made comparisons to the MMO and RPG genre and it’s clear howboth genres have influenced  the  game, shucking the traditional template of grinding for cash to buy new cars and upgrades. Here, cars are treated much like characters in an RPG.

Each has its own level and can be specialised like RPG classes stock, street, racing, dirt racing, circuit racing, high performance and raid (a hardened off-road spec) focusing the player on improving and upgrading a couple of vehicles rather than owning a vast garage.

And, in another parallel, new parts are gained from the world rather than buying them from a shop offered as reward for completing objectives and races.

The latter point ties into the way the world was built, with new challenges and events procedurally generated around the map. “I think the key here is emergence and how it provides surprising gameplay,” says Gerighty. “An open, shared-world game with lots of players in it with that emergent content you get so many hours of entertainment from that compared to linearity. From the point of view as a developer, where do we want to spend our money? Our concept, which is world generation, is super important to put in.

But this is the world we wanted to build, trying to offer something different that was already out there. This is where the genre is heading. The super-linear are going to die more and more.”

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