The Crew Motorfest is an even more accessible Forza Horizon

The Crew Motorfest is an even more accessible Forza Horizon

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It cannot be overstated how much The Crew Motorfest is inspired by Forza Horizon, albeit with a sprinkling of Test Drive Unlimited thanks to the built-up, city streets on offer around the map. There is no Forza Horizon launch this year – instead that series will be getting a new Forza Motorsport entry with more of a simulation focus over arcade. As a result, Ubisoft has spotted this gap in the market, and is hurtling down the pit lane without a limiter enabled to drift in and take advantage.

The pit stop analogy is used in jest, however, as The Crew Motorfest is very much an accessible racing game for those who just fancy going for a spin, rather than sim racing enthusiasts. In fact, even in comparison to Forza Horizon, Motorfest feels very pick-up-and-play. We played a preview build during a remote event hosted by Ubisoft and while some technical difficulties meant we only had around 30 minutes or so with the game, give or take, it was more than enough time to get to grips with the latest open-world racer.

The Crew Motorfest preview: A 4x4 truck driving on top of a hill with luscious flora.

Fans of Forza Horizon will instantly recognise the intro mission, as you jump from one type of vehicle to the next in bite-size racing segments. These aren’t actual races – more just set-pieces to familiarise you with the vast array of vehicles on the roster – but they offer a stunning look at the scenery and landscape on the scaled-down version of O’ahu in Hawaii. Jungles, deserts, winding cliffside roads, proper racetracks, a city full of highrise buildings, there are far more biomes here than you’d expect.

Free roaming around the Hawaiian island was forbidden, so I can’t talk about the open-world content at play here, but after a couple of races, it was evident who the audience for The Crew Motorfest is. This is the racing game for those who want to chill out with some casual races on the sofa at the end of a working day, rather than anyone who considers themselves a racing enthusiast.

One example of this comes in the two races I played in the “motorsport” playlist. As a huge F1 fan, what appeared to be an official Red Bull livery in the opening cutscene piqued my interest. While F1 23 is traditionally the place to go for anyone who wants to experience anything close to realistic Formula One driving on a console (plenty more sim racing options are available on PC, mind), Motorfest offers a pseudo-F1 experience.

The Crew Motorfest preview: The Red Bull RB18 2022 car driving at speed on a track from left to right.

The Red Bull is the only official livery I saw, but it is actually the RB18 model that Verstappen drove to victory throughout 2022. However, the motorsport races in Motorfest aren’t much different from other types of racing. You don’t need to worry about fuel levels or overheating, there’s no damage model, nor is there DRS as far as I could tell. Instead, it’s as accessible as possible to those who want to just give it a spin. Pit stops are included, but driving into the pits triggers a two-second cutscene before you’re on your way again, and you do have to manage your tyre wear, but not quite to the same level of depth as you’d find in other racing games.

That’s not to say that’s a bad thing, as there are myriad options available for players who want a more unforgiving, hardcore experience, but it does mean that petrolheads may not find what they’re looking for with Motorfest. You won’t spend hours finding the right setup, adjusting your tyre pressure and brake bias. Pick up the controller, choose your vehicle of choice, and get to the stunning locales with an upbeat, hyperactive soundtrack. I’m very much looking forward to getting my hands on the open-world and playing some of the other playlists – here’s hoping I can take that RB18 onto the beaches and through the jungle… suck it, Adrian Newey.