In the last 20 years, there have been 21 Need for Speed games. EA has just announced the 22nd, and it’s a reboot that ditches all the extra numbers and modifiers. It’s simply ‘Need for Speed,’ and looks to be a fresh start for this new console generation as the first PS4/XB1/PC-only game in the series so far.
The official announcement promises a “deep customization, authentic urban car culture, a nocturnal open world, and an immersive narrative to pull players deep into the game.” If there was a checklist of everything I wanted to see from a new Need for Speed game, all of those items would be on it. Well, I don’t care that much about the time of day, but everything else, certainly. Anything that can get us back to the Need for Speed: Underground era.
Need for Speed has always been one of my favorite racing series, one of the only ones in fact, outside of Rockstar’s Midnight Club. Racing sims of the Forza/Gran Turismo technical level have always been over my head, while I’ve found Burnout to be a bit too cartoony for my liking. Need for Speed has always been a solid balance of the two styles, though admittedly with 21 different games, there have been a few bombs in there.
I’ve actually quite liked Need for Speed: Rivals, which I think holds the honor of being the first game I ever played for my PS4 back at launch. The vehicular combat between cops and racers was pretty damn cool, even if eventually I did grow tired of the grind to unlock new cars and gear. Since then, we’ve only seen a mobile game in the series released, Need for Speed: No Limits for iOS an Android.
But now this new Need for Speed will get the series back onto consoles and PC, though the first teaser trailer doesn’t show much other than the usual “fast cars escape cops” theme that the series has always had.
Ghost Games is handling the reboot, and was also in charge of Rivals, which I view as a good sign. They has something to say on announcement day as well:
“Need for Speed is one of the most iconic names in gaming, and we’re returning it to greatness in this reboot,” said Marcus Nilsson, Executive Producer at Ghost Games. “Pulling on our 20 years of history, and then taking a year out from releasing a game, we are making the game we’ve always wanted to. We’re listening to the fans and delivering an experience that will capture their imagination and unleash their passion for cars and speed.”
Racing games have never really had a specific “moment” in gaming history that I can directly place, but have never really fallen that far out of favor either. And with the rise of the Fast and Furious film franchise over the past few years, if they’re not going to step up and capitalize on their own popularity with a quality IP, there’s room for Need for Speed to take advantage of the trend.
But as Fast and Furious has become more heist blockbuster than street racing film, I think it would be nice for Need for Speed to again, go back to the Underground era, which mimics the themes of the first three or so Fast and Furious films that focused on actual racing. And word of a cohesive narrative makes me hopeful as well.
It would be great to get a longer trailer to get more of a sense of the new game, but given that it’s shooting for a 2015 release, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more from the new Need for Speed soon. First up should be a walkthrough of the car customization system, something everyone is no doubt curious to see.
EA is juggling a ton of franchises these days, but I think it’s a good thing they’re not leaving Need for Speed behind in favor of what’s explicitly trendy at the moment. There’s a reason that the series has lived for twenty years, and there will always been room in the market for awesome racing games. Let’s hope this reboot gives us another one of those.