If there’s one thing I’ve always loved: it’s a good racing game. Even as a toddler rushing downstairs at speeds that would make any parent deeply concerned (and also impacting the ground at sufficient velocity to warrant a paramedic visit) I’ve been a true velocity aficionado. From the heady days of Cruisin’ USA to the more contemporary and insane Wipeout HD, I have a need that only speed can satisfy.
I will not apologize for that pun.
Speaking of Need for Speed, there’s a new one coming out just in time for Christmas! Need for Speed is one of the longest running and most successful racing franchises ever, and this new one seems like it could be the best one yet. It will have everything you’ve always loved about the series —insane speed, tons of cars, police chases, extreme racing— but it looks like it’ll also have a real plot attached to it this time around too. A Need for Speed game with a story beyond “race cars, outrun police, get paid”? This could be groundbreaking.
Here’s what we learned and what we hated after seeing the June 2 release trailer.
15 LEARNED: OFFLINE SINGLE PLAYER!!!
EA has caught a lot of flack for requiring many of its games be always online. The 2015 Need for Speed reboot, in particular, was panned for requiring even the single player experience to be online, causing quite a bit of performance loss and bugs, not to mention the fact that if your internet goes down you just can’t play at all.
It looks like EA has learned their lesson as the single player experience for Payback will no longer need the player to be online. Multiplayer will still require it, for obvious reasons, but you’ll be able to play Payback by yourself in the middle of the desert for as long as your battery lasts.
14 HATED: Pre-Order Exclusive Cars
Ahem. I may have written about the subject not too long ago, but I will take this opportunity to remind you that pre-ordering any game, no matter how pretty the trailer appears, is the mark of a sucker. So I really hate it when game companies load up on exclusive pre-order content to try and goad me into pre-ordering. It won’t work, EA! Not for you, not for anyone!
Although I gotta say, the pre-order cars are lookin’ mighty fine. There’s the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS, the 1969 Dodge Charger R/T, the 2016 Ford F-150 Raptor, the 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport, and my personal favourite, the 2008 Nissan 350Z. And you’ll also get some exclusive customizations too.
I must remain strong. I must.
13 LEARNED: You Like Action? ‘Course You Do
If there’s one thing you got a sense for in the release trailer, it’s that this game will be unlike any Need For Speed before it. There will be tons of car chases, police chases, highway robberies, flipped cars and explosions.
This game will be just as much an action film as it is a racing game. Not only are you in the driver’s seat, but you’re also on the hood ready to jump onto a big rig truck to steal back your car from the House. Meanwhile, your partner will be dodging police spike strips and rival racers all over the highways and deserts of the Western US.
If there turns out to be a helicopter chase scene, it will have basically ticked off every box on the action movie set list.
12 HATED: Early Access
Need for Speed Payback has a worldwide release date of November 10, but EA is a tricksy company. If you’re an EA Access member or an Origin Access subscriber you’ll be able to play the game on November 2 - over a full week before anyone else. Only up to 10 hours though, so no shotgunning the game in a week.
If you’re not an EA brown-noser but still a big Need for Speed fan, you can get the $79.99 Deluxe Edition and be able to play the game starting November 7. The Deluxe Edition will also come with those aforementioned pre-order cars, plus some unique customizations, and in-game discounts.
It’s basically like preferred fliers at the airport being able to board their plane before everyone else. Smug jerks.
11 LEARNED: Don’t Sweat The Details
First off, let’s hit you with the deets! The new game will be called Need for Speed: Payback, and it’s being developed by the same EA team who did the 2015 Need for Speed reboot, Ghost Games. They say they’ve learned quite a few lessons from the earlier reboot, and they plan on implementing a lot of those lessons in 2017’s Payback.
The game will also be launched just in time for Christmas, having a worldwide release date set for November 10. We’ll also be getting more info, along with real gameplay footage, at EA’s pre E3 event EA Play on June 10. We’ll probably also see more at E3, so stay tuned all June!
10 HATED: The Rhinos Are Back
Ugh. UGH! Those stupid police SUVs are back, and I still hate them. They’re big, they’re unreasonably fast for a 10-ton truck, and I can’t smash them out of the way like I can a regular cop car. And they’re making a return in Payback. Sigh.
It’s not that I hate the fact that police SUVs exist, as they clearly do in law enforcement fleets around the world. It’s the fact that they’re usually not fast enough to catch a speeding Bugatti Veyron that irks me so much. Sure, SUVs can run down a fleeing suspect in a beat up Mercury all day long, but a supercar? Not so much. They’re dumb, and I hate them.
Alright, rant over, back to list.
9 LEARNED: The Plot Thickens
Something that should excite literally everyone is the fact that this could be the most story-driven Need for Speed game ever made. There’s going to be real heroes, real villains, and real cut scenes driving (more puns!) the plot.
Don’t take my word for it. Straight from EA’s mouth to your ears, and taken right from the trailer video notes:
“Set in the underworld of Fortune Valley, you and your crew are reunited by a search for vengeance against The House, a nefarious cartel that rules the city’s casinos, criminals, and cops.”
Fortune Valley, in this case, seems to be an analog of Las Vegas, which the video scenery, highways, and casinos seem to confirm.
8 HATED: “She Left Us With Nothing”
The Payback trailer begins with a character, presumably Tyler, saying, “We were a crew, and she left us with nothing. We’re gunna end this - starting now!” That gives us a big clue as to how the plot will go, but it also tells us the main antagonist is going to be a woman, and a jezebel at that.
There’s still a lot to be learned about the plot, but the fact that it begins with a woman’s betrayal is a little troubling. It’s kinda hard to imagine a scenario where the betrayal makes the villain out to be a powerful and dangerous foe, and on top of that, it’s sort of a tired cliché. We’ll just have to wait and see how the story plays out in later trailers.
7 LEARNED: The Three Amigos
It looks like Need for Speed is taking a page out of GTAV, as the story will be told from the viewpoint of three different characters (although in this case, they’ll all be working together). We have Tyler the Racer, Mac the Showman, and Jess the Wheelman, who all seem to be named after their particular specialties.
Tyler makes the most sense, as Need for Speed is a racing game filled with race cars. Jess is a little more tricky as being a wheelman means she’s going to be involved in heists of all kinds. Could be that we’ll see her behind the wheels of some exotic cars and doing some crazy stunts. The only mystery here is Mac, who as the Showman, could also be doing insane stunts or could just be the guy in the garage making all the cars look pretty.
If we’re super lucky we may even get some celebrity voices for some of them too.
6 HATED: So Many Hypercars!
I’ve got another bone to pick with the Need for Speed series, and that’s its use of hypercars. Or maybe its overuse. I know the series is all about fantasy fulfilment and letting people actually drive cars they’d never be able to afford in their entire lives, but that’s the thing - nobody would ever race these insane cars because they cost more than a dozen houses!
The only time you ever see a hypercar at high speeds is when it’s under development and they need to test it. If you see a Zonda strolling down the strip, it’s doing it a stately pace because the insurance on the thing alone would be enough to bankrupt a small country.
If you’re an underground racer, you take a cheap car, tune it to the nines, and still be able to replace it when you inevitably drive it off a cliff. And it’s a Need for Speed game, so you will definitely do that eventually.
5 LEARNED: Gorgeous!
Ever since the days of Need for Speed: Underground, the franchise has prided itself on being a visually stunning series. Incredible lighting striking off reflective paint jobs on true-to-life models of real cars is what we’re all here to see, and Payback will have it in spades.
Just like the previous 2015 reboot, the PC version of the game can be displayed at 4K Ultra HD with uncapped framerates. You’ll need a beast of a computer to run it at those high settings, so might want to consider an upgrade between now and the winter time. For those of you on last-gen consoles, you’ll still get some gorgeous visuals, but the game will be capped at regular HD and 60 frames. Details regarding Project Scorpio and PS4 Pro haven’t been released, so we may not know until right before launch how well the game will run on those systems.
4 HATED: Need For The Furious?
Watch the Need for Speed Payback trailer, and then right after that cue up The Fast And The Furious trailer. It doesn’t matter which movie in the series - just pick one, there’s 8 of them and they’re all basically the same anyway.
Notice anything familiar? Fast cars? Check. Crazy chase scenes? Check. Jumping from speeding vehicles onto the sides of big rig trucks? Check. Flipping SUVs and explosions? Check and check.
To say Payback is looking a wee bit derivative is an understatement - it looks like they may be outright ripping off The Fast And The Furious franchise. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lawsuit after the game’s release. Or if there’s a Vin Diesel cameo.
3 LEARNED: CARS!
What’s the point in being pretty if you don’t have the cars to back them up? Payback will be stuffed to the gills with automotive glory from all eras and at all price points.
From the trailer alone you’ve got quite the list of 4 wheel fun-times, including...
Zonda Huayra BC, the Mustang GT, the Nissan 350Z, the Lamborghini Aventador, the Nissan Skyline GTR, the 1957 Chevy turned into an off-roadster, the Datsun 260Z turned into a drag racer, the Porsche Panamera Turbo, the BMW M3, the custom 2001 Civic, the 1960 Mustang into a drag racer, and the Koenigsegg Regera.
That’s just a short list of cars to be included, and there’s bound to be more revealed at E3 and as we get closer to launch.
2 HATED: Muscle Car Drag Races
I have a general distaste for muscle cars. They are, to put it mildly, completely lacking in refinement and grace. Merely sticking an enormous engine into a lump of ungainly iron does not make a car move in a way that I would consider peak performance. All it does is make it go very fast in a straight line, and sometimes not even that.
But that isn’t enough to warrant being placed on the reviled hated list. No, what I hate about muscle cars is that it means there will be muscle car drag races, and they are hard. Maybe I lack a certain amount of dexterity, but having to steer your speeding rocket of a car as it careens ever forward at speeds unseen to the chassis, dodging whatever darts out in front of you is difficult in the extreme.
Harumph to you, drag races!
1 LEARNED: It’s A Custom Job, Man
There’s another thing that Need for Speed has been known for, and that’s being able to trick out your ride exactly how you like it. As stated by Ghost, “Rest assured that we’re committed to customization having a home within the Need for Speed series. It’s not going away, and it will play as strong a role as ever as we move forward into the next game and beyond.”
Given the heavily customized rides that were shown in the trailer, including the iconic BMW M3, you’ll likely be able to tear out the guts of your car and put in a whole new set of internals. Along with paint jobs, decals, and trim kits, Payback will let you make your car as outlandish or subdued as your own personality. Let your freak flag fly!