The Crew Motorfest is More Than Just a Forza Horizon Clone

Why The Crew Motorfest is More Than Just a Forza Horizon Clone

Why The Crew Motorfest is More Than Just a Forza Horizon Clone

When The Crew Motorfest was announced, we were initially sceptical. The flashy announcement trailer looked like a shameless Forza Horizon rip-off. Ivory Tower had seemingly copied Playground Games' homework. A former Forza Horizon developer even poked fun at The Crew Motorfest’s similarities.

But while there are noticeable similarities between the two games, The Crew Motorfest is shaping up to be more than just a Forza Horizon clone and one of 2023’s most promising new racers on the grid.

With the launch fast approaching, we spoke with Senior Creative Director Stephane Beley and Associate Creative Director Julien Hummer from Ubisoft Ivory Tower to discover how The Crew Motorfest is taking open-world racing to new heights.

A new take on open-world racing

The Crew Motorfest is set around a vibrant festival celebrating all things automotive. It’s a familiar premise for anyone who’s played Forza Horizon over the last ten years, but Motorfest is “a new take on the open-world driving genre,” according to Ivory Tower.

“The Motorfest is a car-culture-infused festival organised in one of the world’s most breathtaking locations: O’ahu, one of the main islands of the Hawaiian archipelago,” Ivory Tower explains.

The Crew Motorfest BMW M4 Coupe screenshot
expand image

“On your own or with your friends, you can explore this galvanising tropical playground behind the wheel of hundreds of the most legendary vehicles ever built. At every corner of the island, the festival offers infinite opportunities for pure fun. Players will be able to join the celebration and take part in an ever-changing program of activities.”

“They will discover new outlooks on car culture through thematic campaigns, intense driving races and various competitive live events. Based on a brand-new approach to the open-world driving genre, The Crew Motorfest is designed to be the ultimate celebration of the best of car culture.”

The Crew Motorfest drift playlist screenshot
expand image

The Crew Motorfest's campaign is structured around themed playlists. There will be 15 at launch, each dedicated to a specific car culture, brand, or motorsport, from Japanese tuners to vintage classics and contemporary electric cars. These playlists offer a distinct driving experience with tailored environments, music and gameplay. For example, the Vintage Garage playlist removes the mini-map HUD since the 1950s classics you drive don't have GPS.

“We wanted to provide our players with a one-of-a-kind experience,” says Ivory Tower. “These thematic campaigns offer unique and exciting car culture experiences."

"Each is carefully designed to immerse players in a different car culture universe through tailored races, themed events, and other unique challenges. Every time players return to the island, the festival will always have something fresh and new to try, whether they are an explorer, a competitor, or a solo player.”

Hawaii is driving heaven

Before The Crew, many of Ivory Tower’s developers worked on the original Test Drive Unlimited at Eden Games. Forza Horizon set the benchmark for open-world racing, but TDU arguably pioneered it. If anything, Forza Horizon owes a debt to TDU. Set on the island of O'ahu, the first game was ahead of its time, allowing players to cruise, race, and meet up on a massive map. Motorfest sees Ivory Tower come full circle, returning to the idyllic island.

Whereas The Crew and The Crew 2 let you explore the entire USA and enjoy extended road trips across multiple states, Motorfest's map is considerably smaller. The unprecedented scale was epic, yet the maps felt empty - there needed to be more incentive to explore once the novelty wore off. 

The Crew Motorfest Lamborghini Sian
expand image

“Something we learned with The Crew and The Crew 2 is that an open world is cool, but the density of activities is also important," Ivory Tower admits. The studio reveals Motorfest will have "thousands of activities, races, events, challenges and more" combined, providing a "perfect balance between freedom and fun.”

O’ahu was chosen as the location for its diverse driving experiences and stunning scenery. In short, Hawaii's O’ahu is driving heaven.

“Hawaii is one of the world’s most breathtaking locations but also the perfect mix of playgrounds for a car lover to enjoy," says Ivory Tower. "This island offers infinite opportunities for pure fun and all driving challenges. It invites you to see incredible landscapes from big city streets to volcano slopes, lush jungles, and idyllic beaches.”

The Crew Motorfest Toyota GR Supra screenshot
expand image

Ivory Tower visited O’ahu to capture the location and local culture authentically. Local designers, artists, musicians, and creators became cultural advisors during these trips.

“During our field trips, we have never seen an island so beautiful, colourful, lively and culturally rich. Hawaiian culture is one of the richest in the world. Our main goal is to respect this culture and avoid distortion or appropriation.”

“For that, we made several trips to Hawaii to talk with the local population, artisans and creators and discover the richness of the biomes on site. We worked hand in hand with the diversity and inclusion team here at Ubisoft to identify areas of improvement.

"Many local artists also worked with us to dress our beautiful world." One of these local artists is Keola Raposo, who worked closely with Ivory Tower as a cultural advisor. Raposo also appears in the game, offering insights about Hawaiian culture and landmarks.

Land, sea, and air

Another aspect that sets The Crew Motorfest apart is the enormous variety of vehicles. At launch, The Crew Motorfest will feature over 600 vehicles – more than any game in the franchise.

One of the star cars is the Lamborghini Revuelto, billed as the most powerful Raging Bull ever. A successor to Lamborghini’s flagship Aventador, the hybrid supercar graces the cover and makes its video game debut in The Crew Motorfest. 

Boats and planes also return from The Crew 2, with the ability to switch from land, sea, and air vehicles on the fly, providing more ways to explore. In addition, Motorfest introduces new vehicle types.

Have an opinion on this article? We'd love to hear it!

“We know players have tremendous fun with this variety of vehicles in The Crew 2, and we wanted to continue to complete the lineup of our vehicles,” says Ivory Tower.

The Crew Motorfest boat screenshot
expand image

“Based on our community's feedback, we added new types of motorised vehicles such as quads, SSVs and more. To prove the importance of these vehicle categories in our game, some of them will even have dedicated playlists at launch, such as Ocean ‘n Sky and Bike Lovers, dedicated to exploration and fun.”

Ivory Tower also rewards longtime players of The Crew 2 with the Collection Import, allowing players to import “most vehicles and vanities purchased or unlocked before the end of Season 8” to their The Crew Motorfest collection for free with a linked Ubisoft account.

Ivory Tower also confirmed that all Season 9 vehicles and vanities will be imported after launch. Not all vehicles are transferrable, however, and collection imports are irreversible.

The Crew 2 was criticised for its floaty vehicle handling. For Ivory Tower, improving the driving physics was a key priority for The Crew Motorfest. “Handling improvements have been at the heart of the game's development, meaning that each vehicle will be fully linked to its type of ground,” Ivory Tower explains.

Away from playlists, The Crew Motorfest introduces new PVP multiplayer modes with a more epic scope than previous games. “For all multiplayer lovers, the massive races and Demolition Royale clashes will set a new step in terms of challenges and ways to have fun alone or in crews.”

The Grand Race sees up to 28 players compete in a point-to-point race across the map. On the other hand, Demolition Royale is a new battle royale mode that pits 32 players in demolition derbies. Demolition Royale takes place in a contained area of the map for maximum mayhem, with layers split into eight crews. The last crew standing wins.

The long road ahead

The Crew Motorfest races onto PC and consoles on 14 September, with the Gold and Ultimate Editions offering three days of early access from 11 September. But this is just the beginning.

The Crew Motorfest Year 1 Program
expand image

With five years of updates bringing new cars, game modes, and visual overhauls, The Crew 2 had some of the best live-service support of any racing game. Ivory Tower is committed to supporting The Crew Motorfest long after launch, with the Year 1 Pass bringing three seasons of content between now and June 2024.

“Just like for The Crew and The Crew 2, The Crew Motorfest will feature live updates that will regularly bring more fresh content,” Ivory Tower says. “As a glimpse of what you can expect, the second season of our Year 1 content will be entirely dedicated to Hoonigan, one of the biggest brands in the automotive universe."

This Article's Topics

Explore new topics and discover content that's right for you!

The Crew
Have an opinion on this article? We'd love to hear it!