The next Need for Speed is planned for release later this year, and there’s very little officially known about it. Rumors state that it’s coming to PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC along with being set in Lake Shore City, which is based on Chicago, and having “anime elements” with its photorealistic visuals. That sounds all well and good but here are 15 things we’d like to see, feasibility be damned.
Fresher Roster of Cars
The selection of cars in Need for Speed has been a little…stagnant over the years. It feels like we’ve been seeing the same vehicles since Need for Speed (2015) with the Acura RSX-S, Ford Mustang Foxbody and GT, Honda Civic Type-R and so on appearing again and again. And while Need for Speed Heat offered a decent selection of cars, there were still only 127 compared to 500 at launch for Forza Horizon 5. At the very least, Criterion needs to inject even more than past games have offered. Throw in some Electric Cars and more experimental models, for instance.
Need for Speed Payback’s Abandoned Cars act pretty much like the Barn Finds in Forza Horizon. Once informed of one, you had to race to an area and search around to find it. Need for Speed 2022 should have this and expand on it further. Have proper quest lines that lead you to an Abandoned Car, perhaps competing in races with rival crews to see who gets it. Offer tricky obstacles that must be circumvented (like an Abandoned Car on a cargo ship in the ocean that must be jumped to). Get creative and introduce some stellar vehicles that are rewarded upon fixing them up.
More Street Racing
Speaking of rival crews, the next Need for Speed badly needs more street racing. Need for Speed Heat had the right idea but restricted its street racing to the nighttime. This should be expanded to include the day time as well with unique conditions, locales and various interesting characters to race against. Bring back the Most Wanted List and expand it to include a bunch more racers this time, each with their own cash bounties and souped-up vehicles as rewards.
More Variety in Cop Chases
Cop chases are an integral part of the Need for Speed experience, whether you’re escaping or trying to track down criminals. We’ve seen the usual pursuing vehicles, barricades and spike-strips, not to mention the pursuit helicopter and armored trucks. Special cruisers at higher Pursuit Levels in Heat were also nice but there needs to be more. The question – how do you do that while still maintaining some level of realism? You don’t want to turn this into Grand Theft Auto but also want some fresh challenges. It’s not an easy question to solve but hopefully Criterion is looking into it.
Playing as Cops
One method to liven up the cop chases is to go back to one of NFS’s most well-known mechanics – playing as the cops. Choose different tools and hunt down racers along with implementing an entirely different reward system for playing as the law. You could even throw in some optional invasion mechanics and collect bounties on certain racers (both in-game and online).
Less Narrative Focus
It’s time to face facts – the “narrative” in several of the past Need for Speed titles has ranged from “meh” to downright atrocious. While it doesn’t need to be ditched entirely, the story in the next Need for Speed should be streamlined entirely in favor of the racing. It’s possible to have a compelling “Career Mode” without getting too much into plotlines that ultimately add nothing to the experience (as seen with Payback and Heat). And if there must be a story, try to make it intentionally campy and/or cheesy instead of super-serious.
We know it’ll never happen, especially in this increasingly connected age (and if there are microtransactions to be had). But if Forza Horizon 5 with its constant stream of updates and open world populated with real players can have an offline option, then the next Need for Speed should as well. It’s just that simple.
Oddly enough, Need for Speed Heat didn’t offer a cockpit view while racing, which is a shame because it adds so much to the immersion. While extra work is needed to implement it for all vehicles, a racing game like this is where they would be most appreciated the most. Make it happen, Criterion (especially since NFS Payback had it).
Yet another point that any open world racer (as rumors suggest the next NFS will be) should take note of from Forza Horizon 5 is goal-oriented racing. Everything in the game revolves around Accolades, challenges that cover several different spectrums and race-types to eventually get you to the Hall of Fame. More than a Reputation grind, Need for Speed should offer players numerous ways to progress in different areas of the game, from street racing and cop chases to drag racing and reckless driving, with all of the progress feeding into a larger overarching system. It helps give meaning to everything while also presenting rewards for fans of specific gameplay types.
One sorely missed feature from the old days is Autolog. This social feature allowed players to compare their times with friends across various events. It also tracked the number of first place finishes; in Most Wanted (2012), jump distance, smashed gates, unlocked upgrades and more were also tracked. How this could be expanded on remains to be seen but it would be a nice bonus.
Multiplayer in Need for Speed has offered some fairly safe options over the years. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but more different kinds of modes would be welcome. A battle royale variant or fun twist on King of the Hill, perhaps even a mode where racers are arranged into squads with different abilities could be cool. It also wouldn’t hurt to cut loose every now and then to have wackier modes like an NFS version of Burnout 3’s Team Crush and Double Impact where players must cooperate or compete to cause crashes.
Better Post-Launch Support
The last few Need for Speed titles haven’t exactly been known for their extensive post-launch support. Whether Electronic Arts intends to go the live service approach with this year’s iteration is unknown but it could certainly benefit from delivering more cars, features, events and whatnot after release. Games like Payback and Heat have done the same but only up till a point – NFS 2022 needs to go even further.
Custom Race Builder
Oddly enough, one feature that the Need for Speed series isn’t really known for is a custom race builder. You can’t just create your own track in the open world and share it with other players. But on top of helping foster a community, a custom race builder would add even more content to the sequel, thus prolonging its lifespan.
More Extensive Tuning Options
Remember when NFS Payback had you using cards to customize your vehicles? Heat did a lot better in that regard but there need to be more options and greater freedom in how a player tunes their vehicle. Also, if acquiring parts wasn’t tied to things like High Heat Races, leveling up and escaping the Cops at night, that would be great.
Since the next Need for Speed will launch for multiple platforms, cross-platform multiplayer should be a thing. Numerous racing titles have had it lately, from Forza Horizon 5 to Gran Turismo 7 (even if that’s cross-gen), and it helps provide a larger pool of players to match with. It all depends on whatever technicalities need to be worked out but should be a given in this day and age.