Milestone S.r.l., known for its MotoGP and MXGP series among other realistic racers, is back with something completely different. Based on the beloved miniatures of yore, Hot Wheels Unleashed promises fast-paced action, the freedom to create one’s own tracks, and a large number of cars to choose from. Releasing on September 30th for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch and PC, here are 11 things you need to know before jumping in.
Many racing games these days, whether they’re realistic or arcade-like, aim to provide true-to-life renditions of real cars. Hot Wheels Unleashed is a mix of the two genres though, aiming to recreate the joys of racing one’s miniature vehicles across over-the-top tracks. Each car is created at 1:1 scale which means you’ll be racing them like they’re actual vehicles. They also have their own individual stats for handling, acceleration and so on while some manner of realistic physics is at play (cars can sometimes be on the verge of tipping over due to the sheer amount of force exerted, reinforcing their status as toys).
Then again, this is a Hot Wheels title so you’ll be launching off of ramps, driving through loops and using boost to get ahead while also drifting around corners, overtaking opponents and avoiding obstacles (like T-Rex Escape, a figure which spews fire). It also doesn’t hurt that the tracks themselves look incredibly sharp and detailed.
Career Mode seems a given in any racing game and Hot Wheels Unleashed is no different. It sports different events and other features, key among them being boss fights. There’s also an online mode for competing against up to 12 players, a Livery Editor for customizing stickers and liveries for each car, Time Attack to compete for the best times and the Track Builder for customizing and creating one’s own tracks along with racing on community-built tracks.
Online support is nice, though we’re yet to learn more about the challenges that can be completed. But there’s also support for split-screen local multiplayer, allowing people to compete against each other from the comfort of their own couch. There’s only support for two players but it’s still a nice thing to have at launch.
The approach to Hot Wheels Unleashed’s track design is pretty unique – since you’re racing in miniature vehicles, normal everyday rooms turn into giant sprawling environments. Throw down a Hot Wheels track and suddenly, you’ve got a perilous race course on your hands. Some of the environments you’ll be racing through include Garage, an abandoned car shop littered with tires and parts that make for fun obstacles; Skyscraper, a construction site with different floors, including an outside perspective overlooking the city; College Campus with a classroom, library and science lab; Skatepark with its graffiti, half-pipes and ramps (not to mention a basketball half-court); and Track Room, which is completely empty and allows complete freedom in building one’s own track layout. Six environments are touted for the final release with over 40 tracks in total. However, fans will get the most mileage out of the game’s Track Builder.
Arguably the star of the show alongside the cars is the Track Builder. This tool-set allows for building tracks from different modules, which can be bent, stretched or twisted in a number of ways to form different loops and jumps. There are over 20 modules which can be customized with different colors and styles while various obstacles like the Hungry Cobra, T-Rex Escape and Spider Ambush can be used to spice things up. Along with building one’s own tracks and racing on them, there are also community-built tracks to partake in. Whether players can upload their own tracks or have them curated is still unknown but the Track Builder looks very potent while being easy to use.
In terms of vehicle selection, there’s quite the smorgasbord on offer. The Audi Sport Quattro and FIAT 500 have been spotted and other manufacturers like Mini Cooper, Ford Mustang, Dodge and Ford also have cars to control. But there are also a variety of fantasy vehicles that change up the dynamic completely. K.I.T.T., the talking car from Knight Rider is here, along with Back to the Future’s time-traveling Delorean, the Batmobile, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Party Wagon. This is all in addition to Hot Wheels vehicles like Nightshifter, Sharkcruiser, Tanknator and so on that fans love, providing some 66 cars to race in at launch.
Cars have different rarities, starting with Common and going up to Rare, Legendary and Super Treasure Hunt. Dismantling any vehicles that aren’t being used will provide Gears which can be used to enhance cars and increase their rarity (though the Super Treasure Hunt rarities must be obtained through other means reportedly). Coins are also received for winning races and completing challenges. However throughout all of this, Milestone has confirmed that there will be no microtransactions. Everything is earned from simply playing the game.
One interesting bit that the development team hasn’t showcased yet is the player’s personal room. It can be furnished with “a huge number of elements” that players will collect while playing. Naturally, you can also have races inside it but what furnishings can be expected? Perhaps these are purchased with Coins or unlocked through different challenges? Time will tell but you have to be able to display your entire collection of Hot Wheels racers here. It just has to happen.
Standard, Collector’s and Ultimate Stunt Edition
Along with the Standard Edition for $50, there’s the Collector’s and Ultimate Stunt Editions. The Collector’s Edition costs $70 and includes the base game, Hot Wheels Pass Vol. 1 and the Beefed Up Pack on pre-ordering, which offers the HW Armored Truck and Baja Bone Shaker as extra vehicles. The Ultimate Stunt Edition costs $90 and includes the base game, three days early access, Hot Wheels Pass Vol. 1 and 2, the Beefed Up Pack and the Street Beast Pack which contains the Shark Bite and Tomb Up vehicles. Pre-orders for all three editions also receive the Sportscars Pack with the GT-Scorcher and Track Manga cars for free.
Quite a bit of content is coming post-launch via the season passes, starting with Hot Wheels Pass Vol. 1. It has one expansion which contains a new environment, one new track builder module, a customization pack and five vehicles. Aside from this, it also has 10 other vehicles, three customization packs and three track builder modules. Vol. 2 is pretty much the same – it offers an expansion with five vehicles, a track builder module, one new environment and a customization pack in addition to three track builder modules, three customization packs and nine more vehicles. Overall, there’s a fairly good amount of content on the way though when it’ll begin rolling out is still unknown.
On PC, the minimum requirements aren’t too harsh. You’ll need an Intel Core i5-2500K or AMD FX-6350 with 8 GB of RAM and either a GeForce GTX 960 or 1050. Of course, if you want to really appreciate the visual fidelity, then a Core i7-5820K or Ryzen 5 2600, GTX 1060 or Radeon RX 580 and 16 GB of RAM will be needed. In both cases, 22 GB of installation space is needed.