The Crew was a fascinating experience. It was an open-world driving game that let you team up with your friends to drive around a representation of the United States of America. Its focus should have been on the open road experience, yet for some reason it came packed with an overwrought story that kept trying to pull you away from its more compelling elements.

Developer Ivory Tower seems to have recognised this, with a new focus on just having fun blasting around the USA:

“When we created the first Crew we had this huge, gigantic map. Everyone wanted to have the freedom to go everywhere. We’ve removed a lot of the barriers to get that freedom expressed. So now you can get into a plane in the first thirty minutes of the game. If you want to play with a plane only for the whole game – it’s okay. Have fun.”

The Crew 2 is all about removing barriers and letting its players off the chain. Fun is whatever you want it to be. Whether you want to fly around in a plane, drive around in supercars or explore the rivers and lakes of America, or do all three.

And you can do all of that with your friends or by yourself. It’s the promise of the previous game seemingly fulfilled:

“The progression system has been completely reworked, so whatever you do in the game will give you points and you’ll continue to progress. That’s it. And if you want to play as a plane first and then switch to a bike, or whatever, it’s really up to you. We don’t block anyone.”

Feeding into this newfound sense of freedom is the ability switch between vehicles with the push of a button. If you’re flying around New York City in a helicopter and then decide you want to tackle the streets on a motorcycle, all you need to do is push a button and, within seconds, you’ll be on a bike. No need to look for a landing spot and then go hunting for a bike to use.

Interestingly, the Inception-like bending of the world that we saw in the trailer from Ubisoft’s press conference is actually an in-game mechanic to create new, crazy moments of fun gameplay:

“We’re thinking about that trailer and wanted to have something cool – bend the world. You have the magic of CGI. Then [we said] ‘could we do it in the game? Could it be fun?’ We tried, we put it in the game and that was cool.”

It speaks to the vision that Ivory Tower has for The Crew 2. Everything seems to be designed around exploration with as few barriers to fun as possible. If it’s cool, it can go in the game. And that’s not a bad way to design a game like this one.

The Crew 2 launches in early 2018 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.