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The Crew aims to offer a seamless multiplayer experience

Ubisoft's next-gen social racing game The Crew is intended to be a seamless experience for players and their friends, online producer Tristan LeFranc told Polygon.

Speaking with us at a recent event in San Francisco, LeFranc demonstrated the game's capabilities. Players can spend their time cruising from coast to coast, but the game also includes a fast-travel option to quickly rendezvous with friends.

Other players are always just within reach via the game's menu. Friends are displayed on the overhead map as specific icons, making them easy to locate. LeFranc said that way, friends are "never lost," and players can always see what they're doing. Players don't have to connect with friends, but have the option to "group" up.

"Groups are kind of like special bonds that allow us to do everything in the game together," LeFranc said.

The Crew allows you to group with up to three other players. While grouped, players can participate in cooperative and competitive challenges. To compete race challenges, however, only one person needs to score a high spot. The idea is to help each other out while still having friendly competitions. Even in a group, players are still free to roam about. LeFranc described grouping as a "privileged link." It's more about being connected than constantly doing activities together.

Players don't have to connect with friends, but have the option to "group" up

The Crew will feature 14 major cities spread across major regions of the United States, such as the east coast, Midwest and the south. The game's world isn't completely based off its real-life locations, but team members did travel to cities such as New York, Detroit, L.A. and Miami to take pictures and get a general feel for the environment. Each location runs on a day-and-night system as well, albeit a much shorter span of two hours.

When players aren't cruising streets or playing with friends, they can complete skill challenges, or mini games that aim to test their driving abilities. During our demo, we had to race through an area as quickly as possible without coming in contact with other cars or the sidewalk. Completing these challenges will earn players points, which they can then spend on various perks.

Perks are accessed through the game's HQ and include options for better braking, an experience boost from cooperative play or faster travel. According to LeFranc, the HQ is a "hub" — a place where players can also customize their vehicles. Once you've picked a car, you can change its color, engine, body casing, suspension and more. Players won't always need to return to HQ to make changes, however. Players can also use their cellphone to make quick changes.

The Crew is currently being developed for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. For more on the game, check out our interview with creative director Julian Gerighty from E3 2013.

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