Don't worry, you're not on the wrong website. This is still Massively and this is a hands on and interview about a racing game. Specifically, according to lead designer Serkan Hassan, this is a racing MMO. The Crew used the word "persistent world" so yours truly had to hunt down a very helpful Ubisoft representative for a last-minute look at the game. I will admit that while I had my doubts, the feature list does make it legit, and despite the fact that I'm awful at realistic racing games, I did have some fun.
Before we begin, let's go over the things that seem to make The Crew eligible for the title of MMO. First, it has a large, shared world. While you can do solo missions, the game will find other people driving in the same part of the game world and stream them into your game where they can help or hinder you. And this isn't in a lobby. If you want to drive from Vegas to Orlando, you can do it, seamlessly.
Next, in missions you can do races or take-downs (which is like a raid boss, where your damage dealing comes in the form of ramming the other vehicle into submission in a free-roaming instance) for loot, and if you do it in a group of up to four players (your "Crew"), anyone who wins the mission wins it for the whole group. So if you suck as bad as I do with games like this, but your kid sister is a racing master, you can have her come into your race with you, win it, and you'll finish the mission and both get loot. Oddly enough, the game also allows for some exploration. Again, these aren't all races. You can find the Grand Canyon in game and drive around it.
The game already has a mobile application that's tied to your account, so you will be able to customize your car and have it affect the same car on your PC, PS4, or Xbox One. For those who are wondering, no current word on whether or not the game will allow cross platform playing since an unnamed company has a tendency to not want to play nice with others. However, there is a possibility that should said company not want to allow cross platform, the other company may be able to do so with the PC. No promises though.
Anyway, the appearance of your car is just that, but under the hood, you'll want good parts to improve how your car functions. The app can also be used to track friends in game and will have some sort of standalone mission to help get people who may not have the PC/console version into the game.
For my hands-on, I got to try both a free-roaming area that had missions pop up and a take-down. I'm comfortable with traditional MMOs and have expectations for the controls, but for a realistic racer, I was totally out of my element. However, that was OK since it actually allowed me to see some of the game features. For the free-roaming, I found that I was often too slow to "catch" some quests that, literally, raced away from me. Had I been fast enough to get near the other car, I would have had a quest to follow and beat it. Instead, I accidentally crashed my car through a gate, which gave me a quest to keep doing it. I failed at completing it since I was driving my car like it was a missile that just needed to blow, but I later found another quest that had me crashing through laser gates in the world. Once again, I'm was no good at this, but I got a quick feel for it and that was enough for me to want to bring the game home and see if I could get better (which didn't happen).
After my failure in the free roaming, I got to try the take-down. You'd think that all the crashing I'd done before would make me better at this game, but that wasn't the case. However, one of the game's features allows you to hold a button to teleport behind a friend who is in a relevant area for the quest. It does let you skip around a bit, but the developer's idea was to make a huge world in which you could still find friends. For me, this let me stay with the chase, and the final hit on the boss occurred because I was able to prevent the boss from turning. It should be noted, however, that in take-downs, the person who makes the final shot on the boss gets additional loot.
At the end of each mission, you get some experience because you do have levels that unlock perks plus medals that, based on your performance, work as a currency and are granted on how well you performed.
For those worried about griefers in a car game, know this: people can only come into your missions if you invite them. On the open road when you're exploring, anything goes it seems. However, when you and up to three friends want to do a mission, you don't have to worry about someone coming in and just screwing you up. Unless you and I are friends and for some reason you invited me to play with you. In that case, apologies for crashing all the time. I promise I'll make heavy use of the warp command to try to stay in back and out of the way.
Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-13, bringing you all the best news from E3 2013. We're covering everything from WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online and ArcheAge to FFXIV's inbound revamp and TERA's latest update, so stay tuned!