They got the message. EA knew that Need for Speed was drifting further and further away from what made the brand so highly regarded in the first place - car customisation. I had nothing against the creative direction developers of recent titles took. Hell, I've adored every single NFS title I've ever played (aside from The Run and World), but I still understood why people wanted the good old features back. Thankfully for fans of the older games, that's exactly where the 2015 reboot of Need for Speed is headed; back to the beginning.
At this year's EGX in Birmingham, the NFS booth was decked out with a souped-up Nissan GT-R in silver with a dovetail spoiler and widened wheel arches, and gleamed under the stage lights. Eight players are seated at the demo area, and all of us were sent into the game at the same time. We were then given two and a half minutes to customise and tune our cars. Some of the options and items were unsurprisingly locked out, and the number of different vehicle cosmetics available at the time were slim. Still, we got a good taste of exactly how many things we could pick and change about our car. Canards, rims, brake calipers, tire tread, spoilers, windows, mirrors - the list goes on. Then you could adjust ride height, cambers, toe angles, as well as using a simple slider to pick either a car with more grip, or one with better capabilities for drifting. In less than the allotted time, I'd created something I was actually pretty proud of. I'd gone for a pearlescent red Toyota GT86 with a wide body kit and let it loosen around corners just a little bit. I was very impressed with this new system as I'd made something aesthetically pleasing with decent performance in a flash, and I really look forward to seeing how avid fans of the franchise take to it.
After a couple of races and doing some seriously frantic drifting around a cargo shipment with seven other players, it really dawned on me that the old Need for Speed was back. The game's selling point seems to be the night time racing, akin to 2006's Carbon, where floodlit streets played host to a pack of mean, aggressive street tuners in a race that would probably end up killing someone in real life. Levels are earned by earning rep, which entails drifting, jumping and going fast in order to build up a multiplier whilst avoiding oncoming traffic and nasty collisions. This is normally a contributing factor in how "social media" responds to your performance. After every race, you get a "tweet" from one of your friends like "U smoked it dude" or "at least you're a clean racer!" I'll be honest: I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this. I get why it might be there as social media is the modern means of speaking to anyone bar phones, but how many of these messages are there before they start repeating themselves? How long before the immersion is lost because some guy called "str33tr4c3r" is just spamming your feed with the same generic hype? I think I'll always have my concerns with something that's essentially rebranding and entering a new (or old) era, but I also have faith in the guys at Ghost Games and Criterion Games because I know what they've made before.
What I'm completely confident in, however, are the fundamentals. I love exploring the worlds of Need for Speed games and the secrets that hide in back alleys and secluded areas away from the busy roads. Pair that with the franchise's best looking visuals, the Frostbite 3 engine, and the return of full vehicle customisation and wow; you've got the ingredients for one of the best arcade racers ever made. To the skeptics I say this: have a little faith.
Need for Speed launches on November 5th for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and in Spring 2016 for PC.
Me Love Cars - Co-Founder of Gameopedia Wiki 22:55, September 26, 2015 (UTC)