Sure, it was fun at first seeing other people randomly speed by in Need for Speed, pursued by a phalanx of police cars. But the realistic open-world feeling lost its luster fast when other players, seeking destruction points, cracked up the car I had just gone back to make pretty in the garage. This kind of realism I can do without.
Need for Speed strongly encourages taking screenshots and posting them publicly, because “likes” by other NFS players translate into in-game dollars for you to spend on parts. People with short friends lists better have mad photography skills or they’re out of luck.
The always-online nature also completely removes the ability to pause. Yes, you can plop yourself into your garage, which takes you out of the action. But it literally moves you to the garage, so any race you had in progress, any part of town you had laboriously driven to, are now miles away.
What to do, what to do
Three top investment pros open up about what it takes to get your video game funded.
That long distance to your nearest mission would be less frustrating if you had more to do between locations.
The game offers static location-based missions, but not many at any given level. Unless you spot a named NPC or another gamer to challenge to a race, a cop to buzz for a chase (which turned out to be surprisingly absent, especially early in the game), or you get lucky with stumbling across a static mission that matches your driver level, you’ve got a long drive ahead with no real rewards except the occasional drifting or destruction points.
This is the other downside to Ventura Bay’s huge size; it feels really empty, when it comes to playing. At any given time, a drive of many empty miles can separate you from the nearest challenge.
The Need for Speed reboot improves upon several of the more recent installments in the game, which were plagued with problems more serious than these. But I was disappointed when my pure joy in the look and driving feel of NFS drained away over time, sucked out by boring treks across the city and one too many encounters with unfair A.I.
The high polish of the game was marred by these nagging issues, and the occasional framerate drops. The always-online requirement and fairly crass commercialism of how that policy was presented were also off-putting, and didn’t serve much purpose for most of the game.
Need for Speed offers meaningful customization, great arcade driving, a cool look, and a five-part advancement system that gives players different things to do. Unfortunately, after a while, doing those things — especially after missions become repetitive — just doesn’t provide that much fun.
Need for Speed is available November 3 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. The publisher sent GamesBeat a digital code of the game for the purposes of this review.
GamesBeatGamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. How will you do that? Membership includes access to:
- Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
- The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
- Networking opportunities
- Special members-only interviews, chats, and "open office" events with GamesBeat staff
- Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
- And maybe even a fun prize or two
- Introductions to like-minded parties