Publisher Electronic Arts has announced the upcoming part of the traditional racing game series Need for Speed, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Tune your car, drive road races with screeching tires and don't even let the police stop you from drifting at night. Need for Speed Heat wants to offer the full broadside of what an arcade racer has in store. But can it bring back features fans were looking forward to for years? We take a look back.
A troublesome past
Need for Speed has always stood for uncomplicated arcade racing fun including licensed vehicles. The series then started including police chases in later editions, as well as optical and performance tuning of cars. The first break to this tradition happened in 2009 when Slightly Mad Studios released Need for Speed Shift. Although players could still tune their cars, the driving behaviour was oriented towards a simulation experience. The result was a hybrid similar to Grid, a mixture of arcade controls, and realistic handling. It was a well-done racing game but didn't feel much like Need for Speed.
As a result, EA let the British studio Criterion Games take control of the next edition, resulting in a remake of Need for Speed Hot Pursuit in 2010. Despite promising sales figures, criticism of fans became louder. For the first time in a long run, it was not possible to tune vehicles and players were forced online. EA then tried to repeat the surprise success of Shift with a second part but failed. Many games later, Ghost Games was and is as of today responsible for the development of Need for Speed.
A fresh start
Need for Speed Heat again promises extensive tuning options, with performance updates unlocked by participating in events in the Showdown single-player mode. In contrast to the previous title, called Payback, the game will not include microtransactions and loot boxes. You can, therefore, only purchase cars with in-game money. Players can change the colour and pattern of every little part of the bodywork and also adjust tuning options like nitro boosts, suspensions and spoilers. You can, furthermore, choose from several predefined characters with different characteristics and then adjust details, like hair and clothes yourself. There are almost no limits to your creativity.
During the day, you can compete with up to eleven other racers on legal tracks. Obstacles, however, seem to be made out of paper, as even massive stone walls are easily destructible. Your car is only slowed down slightly as a result of the impact and keeps on moving forward as if nothing happened. As a result, you don't have to follow the given track during a race but can find your way. But be careful: every race has checkpoints you need to pass.
What happens at night?
At night, you leave the organized races and jump straight into the underground world of Palm City. Races take place on open tracks and with a lot of oncoming traffic. No mistakes are allowed, and if you stop for just a few seconds, the police are sure to pull you out of traffic. The special task force will do everything to get you off the streets. If you manage to outrun the cops, you increase your reputation, Heat Level, and gain access to bigger races and better tuning parts.
While it will be possible to play online, fans don't need to worry about being forced to do so. You can play the entire game without online functionality but might miss some features. If you play online, you can shake off pursuers by catching up with players who have a higher Heat Level. The police will always follow the player with the highest level nearby.
How many cars can you drive?
Need for Speed Heat includes 130 licensed cars from one of the following categories: Classic, Coupé, Convertible, Pickup, SUV, Rally, Compact Sport, Performance, Muscle, Sports, Super Sports, and Hyper. More vehicles will appear in paid DLC packages after the release of the game. You can already tune the included cars by using the free NFS Heat Studio app on Android an IOS.
If you have had a look at the list of cars, you might have noticed one car brand missing. The Toyota Supra, a car representing Need for Speed more than anything else, as well as other brands by the Japanese car manufacturer will not make an appearance in the game. The company has withdrawn its cars from the game, as they don't want to promote illegal street races.
Need for Speed: Heat releases on November 8th for the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Pre-orders receive the Mitsubishi Evolution X K.S Edition starter car. If you order the Deluxe Edition, you additionally receive three more K.S Edition cars, including the BMW i8 Coupé, Mercedes D63 AMG Coupé and Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport.