The Crew – Wild Run can be bought and experienced in two ways: as an add-on to last year’s The Crew, and as a standalone game that includes both. Being new to the game, we fell into the latter category – which is probably for the best when it comes to how much we enjoyed it.
The reason for that is the new content in Wild Run has been integrated so seamlessly into the package that it could be easy to overlook for people who are already accustomed to the original game – possibly giving them that “what did I pay for?” feeling. This wears off after you explore more and come across the new vehicles and game modes, but is of course not an issue at all for new players.
The Crew is an online racer with can be played solo but also has a fair share of emphasis on multiplayer racing. It came out just after Sony’s somewhat similar Driveclub, but The Crew offered PC and Xbox gamers an opportunity to play as well. The Wild Run expansion is available for all platforms and builds on that original experience not just by adding game modes and vehicles, but improves the core game as well.
First and foremost of these core updates are the improvements on the visual front. The Crew now sports a brand new graphics engine (that’s also available for players who don’t own Wild Run) which includes enhanced lighting and weather effects. Improvements can also be seen in the visual design of certain environments, which were redone by the team at Ivory Tower.
Most of those visual updates are available to existing players without ever buying the Wild Run package though, so let’s move past what’s improved and on to what’s new. The addition of four new types of vehicles broadens not just your garage selection, but also brings several new game modes with it. With Wild Run, you can now participate in drag races or drift races with cars specially made for such events – something that can also be said for the monster truck events and cars that are now available.
Drag racing, drift racing and monster truck racing all feel very different from the core experience in The Crew, which is car-based. They do, however, feel like “special events”, and not like a fundamental change to the basic gameplay – even though they’re fun diversions. Enter the addition of motorcycles – this is the biggest change in Wild Run, because it actually makes sense to cruise around the (gigantic) map of The Crew on a motorcycle. The handling of these motorcycles, though not especially realistic, is also close to that of the cars that were already in the game. The Crew is mostly an arcade racer, so it’s good they didn’t go for a less forgiving control method for the motorcycles.
As mentioned, multiplayer is important in the world of The Crew. This is interwoven into the open gameworld, but this is an aspect where the game experience is lacking due to an active player base that is too small for the enormous game world. Most multiplayer-centered titles suffer from the same fate (the experience running dry after a while when players move on), so we’re glad there’s still plenty to enjoy in single player gaming in The Crew – which also includes a (largely forgettable) story mode.
Having said that, Wild Run introduces The Summit, which is a monthly multiplayer competition with two qualification events each week through which you can qualify for the monthly finale. The events are a mix of different vehicles, tracks and conditions, and thus offer the diversity and intensity that make multiplayer gaming in The Crew fun. Every Summit event winner is rewarded with a unique and exclusive vehicle, which should keep players interested in competing for a while.
The biggest compliment we can give The Crew: Wild Run is that is doesn’t feel like an expansion – the new additions are seamless and improve on the core experience in a variety of ways. As such, we enjoyed Ubisoft’s racer and the vast wealth of vehicles and options it offers. The racing itself is solid, even if the game world doesn’t feel as alive and immersive as we’d like (the Summit events are an exception). Whether the additions are worth it when you already have the original game is up to you, but as an online racer that’s also getting continued support from its developers, The Crew is worth the attention of newcomers to the genre.