Let’s take a closer look at what we know about Ubisoft’s The Crew, one of the most exciting announcements from E3 2013.

If you haven’t seen it yet, the cinematic trailer for The Crew was a highlight of Ubisoft’s conference at E3. Admittedly, without any gameplay there is only so much anticipation that a trailer can stir up, but the creative and action-packed video unveiling was designed to be as effective as possible, and set the stage for an even more interesting look at the gameplay.

Cliché-packed as it is – American muscle, wrecked police cars, NOS – it’s the final seconds of the trailer that are a statement of intent. The camera zooms out further and further, showing off an entire city full of player-controlled cars – friends, rivals, police, racers – and further still, reveals the entire US as your playground.

The Map

Here is what we know. The Crew is being developed by Ubisoft Reflections, who brought us the Driver series. The game takes place in a persistent online world, and the player’s primary goal is to infiltrate a criminal organisation. Side missions and free-range driving will complement the experience, and you can be as social or solo as you like. Taking down your targets can be done cooperatively or alone, but you’ll be competing with other players to gain the biggest rewards.

There is no doubt that the game was designed with cooperation in mind, but nothing is forced. Moreover, the competition doesn’t end after a main mission; speed past a police car and you might be running from an AI, or your pursuer might be a rival human. The requisite driving competitions and races will also serve to spice up the experience. Arcade-style controls should make the game feel more like Burnout than Gran Turismo, making for what will hopefully be a highly entertaining experience.

You can take a look at the gameplay below:

Customization of your vehicles can be done using a companion app, and as long as you have a decent internet connection – necessary for playing the game in the first place – changes made on the app should translate to your game instantaneously. It means using a device other than your gaming platform while playing, but on the other hand it also means you don’t have to navigate a million menus within the game itself.

It’s the possibilities for a seamless and sometimes spontaneous experience that are particularly interesting. Bungie’s highly-anticipated Destiny is set to exhibit the same non-invasive approach to multiplayer, and in The Crew gearheads like myself might get the chance to experience it in a Fast & Furious-style world. Car customisation, arcade-style races and urban travel are all well and good, but when you can jump cities without hitting a loading screen, the immersion is that much greater.

The Beach

Speaking of cities, the world looks anything but boring. Across the US there are dozens of environments and dozens of unique setting types, with wilderness and urban spaces both drivable. Let me make this clear. You can drive coast to coast. Or fast travel. Lazy bones. If the environments are anywhere near as atmospheric as they were in Forza Horizon, whose replication of the Colorado wilderness was astonishingly moreish, then The Crew will be what every open world should be: an effortless time sink.

Time will tell if The Crew is everything it’s hyped up to be, but as a brand new IP with such sky-high ambitions, it’s exciting that the game exists at all.