In the midst of so many different racing simulators in the past several years – including Project CARS, DriveClub and Forza Horizon 2 – Need for Speed was on the down-low following the release of Rivals. That is, until Ghost Games re-emerged, resurgent, and announced a new Need for Speed title releasing later this year. And say what you will about the game’s presentation till now but the developer is looking to mix some of the best games in the series (Underground, Most Wanted) into a single open world racing simulator. That alone is worth the price of admission, despite the “always online” requirements.
GamingBolt’s Leonid Melikhov spoke to Ghost Games producer Lianne Lim about Need for Speed. How many cars will the game have? When did development start? Will there be a Wii U version (spoiler: no)? Find out below.
"This Need for Speed is open-world anyway; you can drive wherever you want to in the map. Open world gives people the ability to either do the story/progression/narrative or do the destruction gameplay and go off to do what they want. Sometimes you just want to free-roam, just to drive and chill out."
Leonid Melikhov: I think the biggest surprise for a lot people was that Need for Speed, for at least the last decade if I remember, was a yearly franchise and this time around you decided to take a year off. What made you guys do that and why?
Lianne Lim: We just felt like the franchise needed rebooting. The last few games were great, but they we’re too Burnout-like/style and we wanted to go back to what Need for Speed really is. So wanted the time to think about all the Need for Speed games over the last 20 years and really look at what we could bring from each one of those, the best parts and how we would marry them together with the narrative and deep customization. So, we just wanted to give ourselves some time to really provide the fans for what they’ve been asking for and also a high-quality game.
Leonid Melikhov: How long has the new game been in development for? Did you start right off the bat right as Rivals finished or did you already put a couple of people on the new one as it was near the end of production?
Lianne Lim: No, we started at end of Rivals. We did a little bit of DLC for Rivals and then we started on this game.
Leonid Melikhov: I see. And this is the first Need for Speed that’s exclusive to current gen systems?
Lianne Lim: Yeah.
Leonid Melikhov: You guys were okay with dropping PS3/360? You think it was about time right?
Lianne Lim: Yeah, I think Rivals came out when Gen 4 consoles were big and just about there. And being on those platforms gives us so much more fidelity and performance. So, I think it’s good that we can focus on that and provide a really high-quality game to our fans.
Leonid Melikhov: Is the game running at 1080p/60 fps on PC, Xbox One and PS4?
Lianne Lim: So we’re not talking about exact requirements/specs right now cause we’re still kind of confirming some of that and going through the development phase. We can confirm that a bit later on.
Leonid Melikhov: What’s your opinion on open world games kind of like The Crew or Forza Horizon where you can go anywhere and do anything you want? Has that ever crossed your mind, maybe with the same mechanics but Need for Speed where you just drive across the entire US?
Lianne Lim: This Need for Speed is open-world anyway; you can drive wherever you want to in that map. Open world gives people the ability to either do the story/progression/narrative or do the destruction gameplay and go off to do what they want. Sometimes you just want to free-roam, just to drive and chill out.
"Fans have been asking for a deep customization for a very long time so we knew we had to give it to them. Rivals had personalization so it was sort of touching on it but it didn’t go fully into what we have now."
Leonid Melikhov: Have you guys had problems developing on the Xbox One’s eSRAM and Programming?
Lianne Lim: No, not really. It’s on Frostbite 3 so we get a lot of fidelity through that anyway and obviously certain development things we have to go through but nothing too specific or crazy.
Leonid Melikhov: What was the most challenging thing in developing the new Need for Speed?
Lianne Lim: I think the narrative because I think it’s the most important part of the game but it’s also something new for us as a development studio, we’re super excited about bringing it to our fans and we’re going to talk more about it. I think that whole process of making sure that we’re bringing the best parts of the 5 icons we got in the game and making sure that each of those narrative icon threads makes sense and marry together so you get an exciting experience that puts you through the progression.
Leonid Melikhov: I am glad you guys brought customization back because I had a lot of friends and myself asking”where is the customization?” When did you realize you had to do that?
Lianne Lim: Fans have been asking for a deep customization for a very long time so we knew we had to give it to them. Rivals had personalization so it was sort of touching on it but it didn’t go fully into what we have now. We’re really excited; this is the best part of the game in my opinion. We’re working with Speed Hunters to make sure it’s authentic and it’s all about real car culture and using real aftermarket parts and companies so yeah it’s going to be amazing.
Leonid Melikhov: How big is the map/world size in Need for Speed?
Lianne Lim: The map is twice as big as Rivals, so it’s pretty damn big.
Leonid Melikhov: What is it inspired by?
Lianne Lim: It’s fictional Los-Angeles. Obviously, the city-scape in Los Angeles is beautiful so we’ve kind of taken the best bits and made it drive-able so you’re not stuck in traffic.
"The reason we’ve done that is because our fans want different things. Some fans like the grip from more traditional Need for Speeds and some people like the drift handling from Most Wanted, Hot Pursuit and Rivals."
Leonid Melikhov: How many cars are we going to have in the game off the bat?
Lianne Lim: Lots…lots…lots!
Leonid Melikhov: In double digits or triple digits?
Lianne Lim: So again, numbers can’t be specific. (laughs)
Leonid Melikhov: What about the Outlaws? Can you talk about Outlaws a little bit? What kind of game modes do the cops have? Anything new or different in particular that we haven’t seen in previous games? In Rivals it was cops chasing the racers and the racers just racing. Do you get to total cars here or bust them?
Lianne Lim: Well you can’t play as a cop in this game. There are still cops in this game and they still bust you, all of the cops are AI, they’re not human players. That was something that we listen to our fans as well, because a lot of people prefer to play as the racer and it’s more kind of authentic Need for Speed as well. So yes, you can only play as the Racer but the cops still bust, they still chase after you if you’re doing bad things. If they find you, you have to pay money, so it’s more authentic this time.
Leonid Melikhov: You can collect money but what about customization parts? Talk about the customization more please, cause it seems to be a big focus. How detailed is it, to what point?
Lianne Lim: Right. So we have visual customization in which you can see in the demos, so parts as well as paints and we’re going to go into more detail about how deep that’s going to be. Then we got performance as well and we’ve got handling, so really the big thing we’re bringing to this game this time around is 2 different types of handling. You can either have Grip handling or Drift handling and that is the first time that option has been available in a Need for Speed game.
The reason we’ve done that is because our fans want different things. Some fans like the grip from more traditional Need for Speed games and some people like the drift handling from Most Wanted, Hot Pursuit and Rivals. So, we wanted to make sure we provided both and in the demo you can see that there is a ton of handling options. How much suspension and rear wheels and all that kind of stuff.
"There are 2 kinds of systems in the game. Reputation is the main Points System which pushes you through the progression through the narrative/campaign. You can’t spend reputation on anything. When you do races and events you earn cash and that cash you can spend on customization."
Leonid Melikhov: Can you please talk about the Points system and how it’s handled?
Lianne Lim: So there are 5 ways to play in the game and those 5 are based on the narrative icons as well. So, we got Speed, Style, Build, Crew and Outlaw. Depending on what you do in the game you’ll get reputation for those 5 different things. So, if I am going really quick at 150 Mph I will get loads of speed rep. I am drifting around corners and doing loads of cool stuff in my car I’ll get loads of style rep.
With the build rep, it’s if I do lots of customization on my car and I make it really personalized and really cool, then you are going to get loads of build rep when you’re driving around. For crew that’s when you’re playing with other people and for Outlaws is when you get chased by the cops you’ll get more rep.
Leonid Melikhov: So the longer you get chased the more points you get?
Lianne Lim: Yes.
Leonid Melikhov: Is it similar to Rivals, when you decide to kind of try to play the strategy game? You know, “I have enough points now I will try to escape?”
Lianne Lim: Kind of similar rewards, but this time you get fined. You can either try to escape the cops and get away from them and keep all of that reputation and keep your money or you can decide to pay the fine.
Leonid Melikhov: Once you have a certain amount of reputation, do you use that to buy something in the shop or how does that work?
Lianne Lim: There are 2 kinds of systems in the game. Reputation is the main Point System which pushes you through the progression through the narrative/campaign. You can’t spend reputation on anything. When you do races and events you earn cash and that cash you can spend on customization. It’s fictional cash, obviously. But you spend that on the customization parts and bits and pieces in your garage.
Leonid Melikhov: Were micro-transactions ever considered?
Lianne Lim: It’s not planned.
"Super excited about bringing this game to our fans cause we listen to all the comments and I feel like we’re giving them what they want. So we’re really proud of this game."
Leonid Melikhov: If you were to combine previous games that came out in the Need for Speed franchise, what do you think is the best combination?
Lianne Lim: Like I said, we kind of looked through all of them and listened to our fans and try to understand what they would want. I think it’s the original Most Wanted with the narrative and story in there because we’ve got live action and the seamless into game. And obviously, Underground because of the deep customization and those are the two things people have been asking for.
Leonid Melikhov: I remember people were begging for Underground 3 so we can build our own things.
Lianne Lim: (Laughs) But this game is called Need for Speed for a reason. It’s not Need for Speed: Something Else.
Leonid Melikhov: It’s just Need for Speed, thus making it an official reboot.
Lianne Lim: Yeah, cause it’s a reboot, no need for subtitles. And then we can carry on and give them what they want throughout the franchise.
Leonid Melikhov: Do you guys have collectibles in the game such as gates, billboards from something like Most Wanted?
Lianne Lim: Yeah, we have something similar in that regard. We will go into much more detail on what they are later on.
Leonid Melikhov: With that being said, what would you like to say about Need for Speed to the fans?
Lianne Lim: Super excited about bringing this game to our fans cause we listen to all the comments and I feel like we’re giving them what they want. So we’re really proud of this game.
Leonid Melikhov: No Wii U version?
Lianne Lim: No. (laughs)
Leonid Melikhov: Can you guys talk about why not?
Lianne Lim: No, it’s not planned and those are the only platforms I can confirm right now.
Leonid Melikhov: Thanks for your time.
Lianne Lim: Thank you.
(Note that this interview took place at E3 2015)