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The Crew 2’s ridiculous vehicle-switching feature lets you transform cars into planes

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And drop boats from the sky

Photo: Polygon

When Ubisoft showed off the new sequel to its open-world racer The Crew on Monday, the publisher wanted to keep a big secret under wraps until players could try the game here on the E3 show floor. Considering The Crew 2 will let you switch with ease between cars, bikes, boats, and planes of all shapes and sizes, it’s worth asking how exactly you’ll be able to move from one vehicle type to another.

Ubisoft’s answer: an on-the-fly system that lets you transform vehicles regardless of where you are or how fast you’re moving. It’s silly, ludicrous, and a ton of fun in a way racing games rarely are.

It works very much like Rockstar Games’ character switching in Grand Theft Auto V, which let you jump around the virtual re-creation of Los Angeles by selecting one of three protagonists randomly wandering the map. In The Crew 2, you’re able to hold down the thumbstick and select the desired vehicle, which will then instantly transform your ride from, say, a muscle car into a seaplane.

This process also transfers your speed and keeps your orientation consistent. If you’re a car catching some air off a jump, you’ll become a fast-moving plane flying up at the same angle. If you’re a plane over a body of water, you’ll become a boat that free-falls down to the surface. You can even do this in completely illogical scenarios. You can turn your fast-moving sports car into a speed boat over dry land, and you’ll fly through New York City intersections, skidding on the pavement. You can also turn your a plane into a car many thousands of feet up in the air and feebly attempt to land the four-wheeled vehicle on a highway.

It feels like The Crew 2 uses some clever software behind the scenes to make this more of an on-rails experience instead of a challenge you must always overcome. So only when I was deliberately attempting to break the system did I ever run into any big issues like wrecking my car as it landed on the edge of a building. (Even then, the game resets you after a few seconds.) Otherwise, you’ll find that the game just smoothes out the experience to let you seamlessly go from one vehicle type to another.

It’s a super smart approach that’s unique to racing games, and it’s sure to make The Crew 2 an even wilder and more free-wheeling experience. Even if the switching system is just a gimmick that doesn’t really hold up after more than a few hours of play, it’s still such a creative and wacky approach to an open-world car game that it’s worth highlighting all on its own.