Ubisoft unveils The Crew Motorfest heading to Hawaii

Ubisoft has announced the third installment in The Crew series, coming this year. Developed by series administrators Ivory Tower, The Crew Motorfest is based on what the studio describes as a “one-of-a-kind festival” of all things fast and set on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii. This makes The Crew Motorfest the first in the franchise to leave the continental United States, as both previous games featured scaled-down versions of the US spanning from New York to San Francisco.

It also makes The Crew Motorfest a potentially intriguing return to the setting of 2006’s Test Drive Unlimited, developer Eden Games’ groundbreaking MMO-inspired racing game that laid the foundation for the genre today. However, this link should not be taken as a coincidence; Test Drive Unlimited is actually a crucial part of The Crew’s non-Ubisoft roots. In fact, Ivory Tower was founded by former Eden Games developers, including Stéphane Beley, Game Director of Test Drive Unlimited. Beley, senior creative director at Ivory Tower, seems aware of the connections longtime racing fans are likely to make between the two games.

The Crew Motorfest [is] a potentially intriguing return to the setting of 2006’s influential Test Drive Unlimited.

“I was very proud when I first started the Test Drive Unlimited project,” Beley told IGN. “It’s true that it was very innovative at the time, and the recreation of Hawaii back then was really remarkable for everyone.”

“I decided for The Crew Motorfest to revisit the Hawaiian island…to help capture the spirit of Hawaii with the latest technology. It’s a beautiful island. A good choice first time, for Test Drive and The Crew Motorfest, this island really is perfect to enjoy one of the most beautiful places on earth. There is a lot of diversity to discover.”

The Crew Motorfest Reef on O’ahu promises a wide range of racing environments, including Honolulu’s dense city streets, deep rainforest, winding mountain roads, volcanic slopes and idyllic beaches. However, unlike Test Drive Unlimited, The Crew Motorfest is not a 1:1 recreation of O’ahu in its entirety.

“It’s not 1:1, but we decided to just capture all the main points of Hawaii and mix them together,” says Beley. “They will have the shape of the Hawaiian island of O’ahu but with its essence. I prefer a higher density of activities and biomes and it’s easy to switch from one to another and you’ll see that you have something to do every 30 seconds and play with your friends through this large island, which is one of the largest islands I have ever made.”

Beley also explains that while the scale of The Crew and The Crew 2 environments called for a more procedural approach to building the worlds, a more singular focus on O’ahu in this case has allowed The Crew Motorfest artists to “explore every mile to touch”.

Ivory Tower has confirmed The Crew Motorfest will feature hundreds of cars, but that doesn’t mean the additional vehicle types introduced in The Crew 2 (which released almost five years ago, in mid-2018) have been left out.

“I call it the motor festival; I don’t call it Carfest,” says Beley. “Because for me it is important that every engine can be represented in this experience. I’m referring to car culture, but you will also have many stories with boats and planes, and you will be able to experience this beautiful world from many angles, from boats on the water or from the air with your plane.”

The Crew Motorfest is scheduled to launch this year on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC (via both the Epic Games Store and the Ubisoft Store). It will also be accessible on PC and Amazon Luna with a Ubisoft+ subscription. Ivory Tower hasn’t confirmed a specific arrival date, but those of you who can’t wait should note that an early access period, which Ivory Tower describes as its “Insider Program,” is starting morning. Successful registrants will be able to participate in The Crew Motorfest’s closed test, which will span multiple phases. The initial phase will be limited to PC for logistical reasons – the development team can iterate more quickly on PC – but later phases are set to be made available on consoles.

The announcement of The Crew Motorfest and its move to legendary O’ahu makes for an intriguing open-world racing game this year, as French publisher Nacon also revitalizes the Test Drive Unlimited brand in 2023 with Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown. Developed by Kylotonn, Solar Crown is set on a 1:1 replica of Hong Kong.

Luke is the game editor at IGN’s Sydney office. You can chat with him on Twitter @MrLukeReilly.