A modified Toyota with a Japanese dragon on the side in The Crew Motorfest
Image Source: Ubisoft via Twinfinite

The Crew Motorfest’s Ghost Cars Blemish the Hawaiian Vibe

Distracted driving.

There’s a crisis of ghost cars in The Crew Motorfest and it’s really spoiling the mood. Ever reminisce on that one time you vacationed in Honolulu and a ferocious pack of transparent Lamborghinis pummeled down the highway at you head-on? Or that one time soaking in the sun on Halaie Beach as a dozen Porsche RSRs race behind you as if they’re competing in the 24-hour Le Mans? Yeah, me neither, but that’s apparently what Ivory Tower thinks makes for some chill maikaʻi vibes.

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How Ghost Cars Ruin this Vacation

Relaxing in a Ford Bronco in The Crew Motorfest
Image Source: Ubisoft via Twinfinite

There’s no denying that a key marketing point of The Crew Motorfest has been its robust and immersive Hawaiian setting. From the map itself to the carefully curated soundtrack, the island atmosphere is something the designers really honed in on. The amazingly adorable final live-action trailer for the game makes it clear that atmosphere is paramount to the experience.

A trio of humanized cars daydreaming about relaxing on a Hawaiian island in the midst of a traffic jam is the perfect mood-setter for the game. There’s no doubt that The Crew Motorfest has been marketed for its chill factor.

It’s not just the chill atmosphere being ruined by ghost cars, it’s also the gameplay. Exploration is a core part of The Crew Motorfest. There are a ton of collectibles and landmarks to check off in this game. There are even photo ops objectives that make good use of the robust photo mode. Thankfully, these phantom cars don’t show up when taking photos of your car. Unfortunately, the lingering stress of a stray vehicle sliding into the perfect shot is still a concern due to the ubiquitous presence of ghost cars.

Persistent ghost car anxiety is a real thing. I’ve had bursts of stress as a result of spawns of 200mph hypercars suddenly careening straight at me from thin air. These moments do more than just raise one’s blood pressure, they cause mid-challenge accidents that force a redo. Like this time I careened off into a shack.

Crashing off course in a DeLorean in The Crew Motorfest
Image Source: Ubisoft via Twinfinite

At times, I laugh at the silliness of it all despite wanting to quit the game. Whether you’re collecting or sightseeing, you’re bound to get a rude awakening from the phantom traffic, and that is the opposite of chill.

Why They’re in the Game

Ghost cars populate the twisty roads of Oahu in The Crew Motorfest
Image Source: Ubisoft via Twinfinite

The Crew Motorfest clearly emphasizes chill exploration, so why then is this bizarre inclusion of ghost cars a thing at all in the first place?

Well, as players share their harrowing experiences losing races due to ghost cars, plenty of others have lamented The Crew Motorfest’s lack of civilian traffic.

It’s no coincidence multiple open-world racing games feature ghost traffic without pedestrians. Ghost traffic is there to keep a map without pedestrians feeling alive. Having these ghost cars zooming around the map also alleviates the reality that seven simultaneous online players in a map this size can feel lonely.

Cruising in a Honda S2000 alone in The Crew Motorfest
Image Source: Ubisoft via Twinfinite

The open-world racing genre has been stuck in a rut on how to populate large maps for quite a while. The Crew’s rival, Forza Horizon, often receives criticism for having an empty world with no pedestrians. Yet, Forza Horizon 5’s 12-player lobby count is higher than The Crew Motorfest’s measly seven. Succumbing to the limitations of rival racing games while downsizing the world map is a particularly hard blow to take in The Crew Motorfest’s case.

Map of Oahu in The Crew Motorfest
Image source: Ubisoft

Perhaps THE defining characteristic of the past The Crew games was the gigantic seamless continental US map. Players were quick to forgive Ivory Tower for empty pockets of road and sparse spread of players because of the sheer scope and concept. And yet, even The Crew 2 featured a lively element The Crew Motorfest fails to have: pedestrians! With the series moving on to a more compact map, it was all but certain pedestrian traffic and player density would make up for it. But nope, the map is significantly dwarfed by The Crew 2’s, yet lacks pedestrians.

How Competitors Implement the Solution Better

Forza Horizon’s implementation isn’t great either, but at least ghost cars are differentiated from the cars you race against. You won’t often see the same types of cars mixed together in Forza Horizon 5, whereas, in The Crew Motorfest, there are the same Camaros and Chargers populating both real and phantom traffic.

Another reason Forza Horizon’s ghost cars aren’t quite as bothersome as The Crew Motorfest’s is the pack usually spawns further away so you can react sooner. I’ve had many instances in The Crew Motorfest where a pack of cars spawns a scant block in front of me.

Ghost cars spawning in front of my VW GTI in The Crew Motorfest
Image Source: Ubisoft via Twinfinite

My time with The Crew Motorfest hasn’t been a total downpour, though. The map features far more variety per capita versus The Crew 2 or even Forza Horizon 5. Once you play the game enough, the various ghost car hot spots and more quiet routes get burned into the muscle memory and you get used to ghost traffic. A lot of the annoyance is remedied by cleaning up the cluttered UI a bit and turning off non-player vehicle noise too. But, you can’t turn off the infuriating ghost cars completely, which is a shame. I’d much rather cruise through a quiet and underpopulated Hawaii than one overrun with nightmarish packs of ghost cars haunting me wherever I go.


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Author
Matthew Carmosino
Matthew Carmosino is a freelance writer for Twinfinite. He started gaming in the mid-90s where his love for SquareSoft RPGs like Chrono Trigger changed him forever. Matthew has been working in the game industry for two years covering everything from story-rich RPGs to puzzle-platformers. Listening to piano music on a rainy day is his idea of a really good time, which probably explains his unnatural tolerance for level-grinding.