Turn off the Lights

Taking A Virtual Road Trip in The Crew, Miami to Seattle

"Where We're Going, We Will Actually Need Many Roads."
The Crew Title Screen I like road trips. I’ve been on a lot of road trips. I’ve gone from Kansas to Florida more times than I can count. Seeing the country change as you drive down the road, listening to music and snacking on junk food. The whole experience has always been something I enjoy. So when Ubisoft showed The Crew off and explained what their new driving game was, I got very interested in it. The Crew allows you to drive around the United States. All of it. Well, ok, some of it. It’s a condensed and trimmed down version of the US. Still, tons of cities are open to explore and so too are long stretches of highway. So when I got a chance to play the beta version of The Crew I was excited. Once I got past a story intro that felt unnecessary and out of place, I was let loose and could drive wherever I wanted. So after heading down to my home state of Florida I decided to have a virtual road trip. Seeing as I wanted to see how massive this map was, I decided to drive all the way to Seattle. Map of the Journey to Seattle I grabbed a bottle of water, a stop watch app on my tablet and notebook to keep track of what I saw and experienced. Thanks to the PS4’s share feature I could snap photos the whole way up to Seattle. The times you see are real time, not in the in game time. 11:18 AM Leaving Miami I set my waypoint, Seattle, and begin my virtual road trip. My starting city of Miami is sunny and I quickly speed north out of Florida. Though something I should mention is that The Crew doesn’t have distinct states. So I’ll have to guess a bit on some areas that had no cities or landmarks. 11:22 AM Orange groves I’m out of Miami and driving by orange groves. I stop at a Gas Station and check the gas prices. I wonder if the gas prices will be different in other parts of the US. Gas Station Between Miami Dallas 11:30 AM Just almost hit a deer. I barely saw it and I didn’t have time to take a photo. I didn’t realize The Crew had wildlife. That was surprising and is a nice touch. I also see a billboard. I wonder if I’ll see that billboard anywhere else. Billboard Miami 11:40 AM I'm making good progress and also noticed how weirdly condensed some things are. Just over 20 minutes into my journey and I’m out of Florida and passing by New Orleans. Not close enough to snap a picture of the skyline, sadly. I am getting closer to... Dallas? Dallas Skyline 11:44 AM Just about five minutes after passing New Orleans I’m entering Dallas. That’s strange but honestly I’ve already been driving over 25 minutes and no loading screens so if that means squishing parts of the US geography together, no big deal. Dallas Skyline Closer I like the little touches in Dallas. The overpasses have the same art and style that the actual Dallas highways have. I wonder if other cities have this type of detail. Dallas Overpass Art 11:45 AM After entering Dallas I pull off and decide to check the map. I’ve made some progress, but I still have a long way to go. So I say goodbye to Dallas and continue on. Map Check 1 Dallas 11:50 AM The sun is going down. I’m outside El Paso and I take a peek at my map. I’m really close to the US/Mexico Border and I’m curious how much detail the smaller cities have so I’m going to stop the timer and check out El Paso a bit and drive down to the Border. Nighttime Outside El Paso 11:57 AM El Paso has a lot of restaurants. Like nearly one on every street it seems. EL PASO ANOTHER restaurant (2) EL PASO mexican restaurant Driving around El Paso I notice nice little details. People seem to be wearing cowboy boots, jeans, etc. EL PASS cowboy 2 Some houses and buildings are made out of Adobe and I see pickup trucks and dusty cars driving around the nighttime streets of El Paso. Adobe Building home EL PASO Adobe building large EL PASO It’s quiet. Well it was, ‘till I came into town going 80mph and listening to the techno/electric radio station the game has. But after turning my radio off I can hear little things. Stuff crickets, far away cars revving up, maybe even a coyote. It’s nice. Hanging out underneath the stars in El Paso is a nice break from speeding down highways. Now to go see the US/Mexico Border. 11:59 AM EL PASO mexico border The Border is lit up fairly bright and my car lights make it even brighter. Weirdly there is no one to be found. If there was one thing I’ve noticed so far it’s that The Crew could use a few more people walking around. Some areas can feel like ghost towns. US MEXICO BORDER EL PASO I try to drive through the Border but an invisible wall and unbreakable checkpoint stop me from taking a virtual vacation in Mexico. Too bad. Maybe future DLC can add Mexico and Canada. As I turn around I see a passing train.I start the stopwatch again and I turn my radio back on. It’s loud and spits out digital music and what sounds like a Woody The Woodpecker laugh. Weird. Anyways, I spin my tires and shoot off back towards the highway. Seattle here I come. EL PASO train 12:03 PM I almost hit a car that was going way too slow. Or maybe I’m going way too fast. That’s a possibility, I am going nearly 150 MPH sometimes. Slowing down to avoid the car I see a abandoned drive in. These little touches are nice and give the long expanses of straight road some variety. Abandonded Drive in ARZNA 12:05 PM Welcome to… Winslow? Sorry to anyone who lives in Winslow, Arizona, but I have never heard of your town. I wonder how many smaller towns and cities The Crew has and what was the decision process on what made it into the game and what didn’t. Better Shot of Winslow AZ Slowing down in Winslow I decide to do a map check. It looks like I'm at the halfway point. It also seems I will be too far away from Las Vegas to get any photos of the city. That's a shame. Maybe I'll go visit Las Vegas after my trip to Seattle. Curious how much of the city they have in the game. Map Check 2 12:08 PM I see something I’ve seen before. Two large arrows, stuck in the ground in the middle of the Arizona desert. I did a little Googling. This is where the Twin Arrows resort once was. They’ve been restored now and are well known landmarks on Route 66. I’m really enjoying these little landmarks and details. Twin Arrows Resort AZ As I’m driving away from the arrows I see another player. I saw a few earlier, but for the first time I have a fellow driver who is going the same way I am. I’m not sure how far the story missions go in the beta, so I don’t know if this person is going to a mission or if they are just exploring the virtual US. It’s oddly nice to have another person nearby on these long dark highways in the desert. Sadly, my fellow driver leaves after a few minutes. Hope they got to where they were going. Another Driver In the Desert 12:14 PM So I was going really fast and I looked away for a second to see what time it was and BAM! I rear ended a police car. So, now I’m being chased by the police. Police chase AZ 12:16 PM All those years of Grand Theft Auto and watching America’s Most Wanted paid off. I got far enough of away from the cops and slipped into a gas station. After letting the police fly by and once I didn’t hear any sirens I grabbed another bottle of water and checked the gas prices. Turns out in The Crew all gas stations have the same price. Depending on the prices near you right now that is either really nice or terrible. Gas Station leaving AZ 12:20 PM You know after escaping from the police I was a bit nervous and what do you know I hear sirens again. I look back and see… an ambulance. Thank god. I was worried the police had found me and were going to stop my road trip to Seattle. ambulance outside Palm Springs 1 I pulled over and the ambulance went speeding by. I wonder where he’s going. I tried to follow but he was fast and took a turn and his sirens faded away. Ambulance Outside Palm Springs 2 12:23 PM On my minimap I see a town coming up so I think it’s time for a map check. Looks like I'm entering Califronia. Map check 3 Palm Springs I’m just outside Palm Springs, not far from L.A. The sun is coming up and I’m getting closer and closer to Seattle. Soon I will be looking at the Space Needle and thinking about Fraiser. Sunrise in the Desert 12:24 PM Welcome to Palm Springs. I didn’t spend a lot of time in Palm Springs. Palm Springs Welcome Sign Instead I sped through going nearly 80 miles per hour, radio blaring. In game it’s early morning, like 4 AM early. Driving Through Palm Springs 1 I bet the residents of Palm Springs didn’t like me hauling ass through their nice town. They probably didn’t like me hitting a few lightposts as I sped through, either. Anyways, bye Palm Springs! Driving Thru Palm Springs 2 12:27 PM Large wind turbines. I remember seeing photos of these in real life and I remember flying helicopters into them in Grand Theft Auto V. These are part of the San Gorgonio Wind Farm. They power Palm Springs and other places around the area. San Bernidino Windfarm I’m glad to see that throughout the roadways and highways of The Crew, there are landmarks, cities, small details etc. I was worried that large sections of this map would just be straight highways with unpassable trees on either side. Those areas exist, but they only make up a small portion of the roads I’m seeing. Most of the roads I’m traveling on have lots of open space on either side and you can explore these areas and if at any time you need to get back to your trip all you have to do is hold a button and you’re teleported back to road. This is a nifty feature that allows me to go off and explore without fear of getting too lost or off course. 12:31 PM I’ve made it to San Bernardino, California. But I’m getting close to the end of my virtual road trip so I grab a photo of the city as I race through it and continue on to Northern California. San Bernidino city 2 12:34 PM Trees become thicker near Seattle After speeding through San Bernardino I notice that the world is starting to get more trees popping up and a bit more foggy. These are things that I expect to be around Seattle so I decided it’s time for another map check. Map check 3 Palm Springs I’m close. Also I’m looking at the clock and I’ll be honest, I’m surprised how long this is taking. Not that I have a problem with that. Instead I’m quite pleased by this. This map is actually pretty large and while sometimes it feels like some cities or landmarks are a bit too close, I’m generally really happy with this virtual USA. Church north of San Bernidino Also since the last beta Ubisoft have improved the handling of the cars. This is a big deal. I hated driving in the last beta, but now I’m enjoying my time driving around the country. 12:45 PM Don’t text and drive. Or in my case, tweet and drive. I was checking Twitter for a second and when I looked back up at the screen I was a split second away from rear ending a white pickup truck. I slammed on my brakes but... I hit him. When you get into a bad enough accident the camera pulls out and the game slows down a bit. It reminds of Burnout and if you want me to like your game more always remind me of Burnout. Closer to Seattle Trees Didn’t grab a photo and drove away before the cops showed up. In The Crew I’m a terrible person who drives an ugly car. Anyways, I’m getting close to Sacramento, California and closer to Seattle. 12:49 PM I know two things about Sacramento. The Kings are their NBA team and they are in the northern part of the state. Maybe I’ll come back to Sacramento after this virtual road trip and check out the city in more detail. For now, I take a photo and speed through. I’m close to Seattle. Sacremento I will say that outside of the major cities, your New Yorks and L.As, some of these cities feel too small and many feel like a few roads done in a grid with one or two landmarks near or in the city. Again, there are a lot of cities and towns, so at some point I assumed they would have to spend more time on only some of them. Still, it’s weird being able to drive through some of these bigger cities and not hit any traffic or see any urban sprawl or suburbs. 12:53 PM Seattle Skyline 1 My first glimpse of Seattle! I can see the tops of buildings jutting out through the fog and mist. I scan the radio, hoping for the Dr.Fraiser Crane to pop up. But that’s silly. The series finale showed he left Seattle. Stupid me. Back to techno pop. A few moments later the skyline is closer. I'm so close. Seattle Skyline 2 12:57 PM Finally, I’ve made it to Seattle. What a beautiful looking city. Something about the mist, rain and trees just make it feel... different than any city I’ve ever lived in. Seattle Skyline 3 One of the first things I spot in Seattle is a billboard. And wouldn't you know it seems this store has one billboard in every city in America. Impressive and also probably expensive. Seattle Billboard Something I realized is this is the third time this year I have been a Troy Baker character in Seattle. First was Infamous:Second Son, second time was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfares level set in Seattle and now this is the third time I’ve heard Troy Baker say things while I can see the Space Needle. Weird. Seattle Space needle As I drive around Seattle I snap a few photos and think back on my nearly an hour and a half journey. I saw some landmarks, went to the US/Mexico Border, got chased by the police, almost hit a deer, stopped at a few gas stations and even caused a few accidents. Overall I had a lot of fun doing this. Seattle totem pole The Crew is an awesome setup and I wonder what else Ubisoft and people who play the game will do with this large playground. Truth be told I’m not enjoying the story The Crew is trying to tell. It gets in the way early on more than anything else. But still, being able to freely drive around the US, no loading screens, is really impressive and I’m definitely excited to spend more time with The Crew when it comes out December 2nd. Seattle Skyline BEACH END


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