During November 2013, Microsoft and Sony launched their new generation of Xbox and PlayStation platforms, respectively, and along with those machines came the most recent iteration in the Need for Speed franchise, Need for Speed Rivals. The game was well-received, yet it left some fans wanting more, so Ghost Games went back to the drawing board.
Need for Speed has more times than not been a yearly release for EA, but the publisher and Ghost Games decided to skip a 2014 release in favor of having more time to reflect on what the series should be about moving forward. Here we are now with only a few days left before Need for Speed makes its long-awaited return and things are looking great.
atombash.com recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ghost Games’ Marcus Nilsson to discuss the hiatus Need for Speed took, the new depth we’ll see in the way of customization, new characters and so much more. Nilsson, who is an executive producer on the game, spoke about the things they wanted to bring to this redefined world of Need for Speed.
“Last year we didn’t make a game and we did that based on our own beliefs that we needed to do some soul searching. We needed to find the right identity for Need for Speed. We thought how could we make a customization system in a Need for Speed game, which is talking to a core element of Need for Speed, which is accessibility. Now that we are going after that again, we wanted to make it the best of the best.
“Customization is very, very deep. The number of combinations is just silly, but more importantly, it is all based around authentic car parts. There is some real diversity there as well. The Japanese builders are slicker, whereas the Americans are a bit more beefy. When you start to get into the world of car culture, there are just so many interesting things and so much passion. That’s what we’re trying to get across with this game,” Nilsson said.
Customization in Need for Speed has been highlighted in a major way by EA and it really seems like it’ll be an enormous part of the game experience for players. Customizing a car to your own liking is part of what players find so appealing: i.e. creating an identity through the car itself.
Ghost Games has brought several car personalities into the fold and they will help guide players along their journey of progressing through Need for Speed. As Nilsson says it, each character that gamers will encounter is going to provide them with a different perspective or take on each style of driving in the game.
“Magnus Walker, English guy, LA based, collects Porsches and not only does he collect them, but he actually drives them. He’s a builder of this Internet company that has become this viral success of being one of the more famous car collectors flying across the world and building Porsches. YouTube and other video services have just been pretty huge to build up their personas and brands, so what that brings up is just different ways of playing. Magnus Walker, he likes to drive fast.
“Ken Block, you obviously know him, and he drifts around the car. Then we come to the Risky Devil, who is about driving together with other people and AI in formation. Nakai-san has this brand of being a bad guy when in reality he’s not, but he wants people to have that perception of him,” Nilsson said.
Each of the personalities in Need for Speed should serve as an effective means of varying up the game’s flavor and aura. Keeping things fresh is an important part of the Need for Speed experience and that doesn’t just apply to gameplay.
The game will feature two different types of currency, those being reputation and money, with the former quite possibly being more valuable than the latter. Nilsson explained how earned reputation doesn’t always mean that’s the person who finishes a race first, and then commented on what can happen when you complete a race with high reputation.
“Based on how fast you go or how far you drift, we score you on reputation based upon that. It gives us more competition. If you think about Autolog, which pits you asynchronously against me, you can beat me time-wise, but I might drive in a cooler car being chased by cops, sliding more around corners so my rep might be higher than yours even though you won the race. Both forms of currency give us a deep sense of competition.
“The game will say to you, ‘okay you did an awesome race, but you really made a lot of drift points’ and that can trigger one of the messages from Ken Block who would say, ‘hey I saw your race. You finished second, but your drifting was awesome, come meet me.’ The reputation is then working to unlock levels of how much customization you can get to and events open up based on how much reputation you have,” Nilsson said.
The two different forms of currency also provides players with a choice of how they wish to focus their play styles. Being less focused on finishing first might not be the best approach, from a currency standpoint, but then again, it’s perfect for those focused on scoring high in regards to reputation because you focus on your style more than who is in first place.
The police are always a major part of the Need for Speed games and they were for the initial next-generation iteration we saw in 2013, Need for Speed Rivals. Nilsson talked about the interactions players will find with cops and some of the differentiating factors that go into it.
“It depends on how you perform. If you are in a high-tier car, the cops will have more roadblocks and if you’re in a lower-tier car, or a sleeper car, they might think that it’s not as strong. You can basically trick the police that way. However, there are not cops all over the world, there are sections of it. If you want to avoid cops, you learn where to avoid them and when you trigger a pursuit, it’s going to come up basically as stop to pay fine. If you feel like you don’t want to have another cop race, you can stop, pay the fine and the cops will then leave. We gave you more choice to customize your experience that way,” Nilsson said.
For those who want to avoid cop chases, being able to pay a fee to stop the chase is a nice option to give players, though I’m sure most of the time, gamers will elect to chase versus pay. Destruction seems like it will be at least a part of the gameplay we see in Need for Speed and Nilsson talked about the role destructibility will have in Ventura.
“You obviously have the Frostbite Engine, so there’s a fair amount of destruction in the streets and the cars next to them, but it’s all kind of balanced. Effectively, destruction elements are there to create immersion as you drive, but not so much for you to drive and destroy things. It happens as you drive because when you drive irresponsibly in an arcade racer, you hit stuff and that’s fine. Yes, you’ll see the occasional AI cop chase passing by you, you’ll see the occasional crash of traffic cars in this living world,” Nilsson said.
Gamers will finally get their next taste of Need for Speed action when the game launches this coming Tuesday, Nov. 3. Need for Speed will be available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.