After spending several hours behind the wheel of The Crew 2's open beta, one warning light kept flashing up on the dashboard: it's too big. The map, a truncated version of the entire United States, is enormous - impressively so - but it's dull as dishwater. One of the major changes to this sequel is the addition of planes and boats, and while it adds some variety to the game's events, the ability to explore the skies and the waters of the USA only serves to accentuate how large and lifeless the map actually is.
Free roaming in The Crew 2 is novel at first; you can treat it a little like a whistle stop tour of the country. The ability to switch between land, sea, and air vehicles at will is fun, and means you never need to slow down. However, there is very little to do in the open world. There are small skill challenges, such as speed traps or slalom events, but they aren't really enough on their own to fill the huge gulfs of nothingness between the main events.
Because of this, we ended up playing the game by skipping open world driving altogether, instead simply hopping directly between events. When you're bouncing through southern marshlands in a Rally Raid, performing daring stunts in Aerobatics above Monument Valley, or speeding through the canals of Las Vegas in a powerboat race, The Crew 2 is at its best. Strangely enough, the cars handled the worst out of the bunch; piloting and sailing in planes and boats felt much tighter. We drove a few different cars, and they felt a bit too sluggish and heavy for such an arcadey game.
When you win an event, you earn several things that all feed into each other: more followers means more events open up to you, random loot drops allow you to upgrade your vehicles, giving you a better chance at success in races, and obviously, you use cash earned to buy new rides. All these rewards mean you're always progressing, and even if you fail an event, you'll still get some followers and money. It's nothing revolutionary, but it works well, and makes for a straightforward structure that makes the game easy to pick up.
Unfortunately, it's not really a game we wanted to pick up. The new vehicle types have added variety, but they don't change the fact that The Crew 2, with its gigantic open world, is bereft of life. We imagine that a lot of the fun will come with playing alongside your friends, but even in a populated map, it all just feels too spread out. We honestly hope the final product is better, because we spent a large portion of our time with the beta wishing we were playing something else.
What did you think of The Crew 2's open beta? Were you won over, or did you struggle to find the fun in the enormous map? Rev your engines in the comments below.