Here we go again. The Crew, a racing franchise by Ubisoft, is set to debut December 2nd. It supposedly features a persistent open-world with no load screens, conceptually allowing players to drive from one part of the United States to the other in a little over an hour. This is combined with 8-person multiplayer, a 20-hour long campaign, which might make for an intriguing and fun game, right? I would tell you if I could. But, unfortunately, neither Twinfinite nor any other games press outlets will be providing you with reviews of The Crew upon launch.
Ubisoft has announced that reviewers will not be receiving a copy of The Crew until its commercial launch. This means reviewers will be receiving the game at the same time as everyone else. Which means everyone, both news outlets and customers, will be going into this experience blind and will not be able to make an informed purchasing decision. Is the game any good? Is the game technically competent? Is the game worth all the insane amounts of hype the game has received during its advertising and open-beta phases? Nobody will know and your guesses are as good as ours.
This has been a rough November for Ubisoft. Far Cry 4 is great, most people agree, despite some technical issues at launch. Assassin’s Creed Unity, however, is essentially completely broken, with numerous hilarious and macabre graphical errors, tons of microtransaction content, all on top of the same old formula we’ve come to expect. Moreover, Ubisoft refused to let reviewers get their hands on Assassin’s Creed Unity as well, pushing the embargo of the game until after its release, an action hailed publicly as hugely inept and potentially done because they knew how poor the game’s quality was and wanted their customers to be uninformed. Perhaps wanting to counteract bad press this time around, Ubisoft released an official post on their blog:
The Crew was built from the beginning to be a living playground full of driving fans, so it’s only possible to assess our game in its entirety with other real players in the world. And by other, we mean thousands and thousands and thousands of players – something that can’t be simulated with a handful of devs playing alongside the press. For this very reason, The Crew will be available to media to begin their reviews when the game launches on December 2. There will be absolutely no embargo on any type of coverage once the game is available for sale.
If you say so, Ubisoft. This may be a bad sign for The Crew. While Ubisoft notes that they are not limiting discussion of the game, and suggest that many outlets are likely to give pre-mature reviews of the game based on the experience during the beta, this still is no excuse to not allow reviewers copies before launch. Large games, especially open world ones, require a lot of time and energy to play through before a reviewer can make an objective assessment. This decision to restrict reviews until after launch essentially stifles criticism of their game right at the time people begin their Christmas shopping season.
If The Crew is great, then there will be nothing to worry about. But given their gaffes with Assassin’s Creed Unity, it can be understandable if the public doesn’t fully trust The Crew or Ubisoft enough to make a purchase. I guess we’ll find out once gamers begin playing the game beginning December 5.