The rumours were right: Ivory Towers and Ubisoft Reflections have been busy bunnies (sorry, my mind is still overloaded with bunnies after watching Ubisoft's E3 conference…) preparing their take on the next generation of driving games.
As we were expecting, it's called The Crew, a next-generation, mission-based driving game set in in a sprawling open world revealed via an action-packed CG trailer akin to Driver: San Francisco's reveal trailer a couple of years ago.
It's a staggeringly vast open playground packed with challenges, too, as the on-stage demonstration video revealed a garantum map representing the entire United States with a rich variety of terrain to explore.
Of course, it won't be to scale, but the map will apparently have 5000sq km with cities including a rendition of New York roughly the same size of GTA's Liberty City alone, along with the congested streets of Los Angeles and New York and the sunny stretches of Miami in what looked like an ode to the original Driver game.
To give you an idea of The Crew's sizable scale, Ubisoft boast that it will take 2 hours to drive from the east coast to the west coast of the map. Driver: San Francisco's ingenious shift mechanic also returns, allowing you to seamlessly spawn at any point on the map and keep on driving.
Like DriveClub and Need for Speed: Rivals, The Crew will place emphasis on staying connected with other players by seamlessly blending the single player and multiplayer, allowing you to dip in and out of play sessions and join your friends in team-based Fast and Furious-style missions that have you infiltrating a gang known as the 510s spawned from the illegal racing scene in Detroit.
Ubisoft Reflection's previous work on Driver: San Francisco implies that the car handling will have a cinematic feel, with an emphasis on powerslides and burnouts.
Car customisation is also in, and it looks incredibly in-depth. As Ubisoft's on-stage demonstration depicted, you can literally strip away a car of its parts revealing its naked shell and build it up piece by piece with performance parts. It's all rendered in real time, too. In addition, Ubisoft also showed off the ability to tinker with your ride outside of the game on a tablet.
It's safe to say we're already impressed by The Crew's scope and ambition, and the talented teams give us confidence that the project is in safe hands by the people behind the original Test Drive series and the criminally underrated Driver: San Francisco. If Test Drive: Unlimited, Midnight Club: L.A. and Driver: San Francisco shared a night of passion together, this would seemingly be the result.
The Crew is set to infiltrate the PS4, Xbox One and PC in early 2014, but you'll be able to get your own glimpse of the action in our show-floor gameplay videos coming soon.