Last year’s Need for Speed Heat was a pretty good game, albeit one that didn’t exactly push the envelope on racing. Still obsessed with being a cheesy outlaw car culture adventure, Heat’s action felt great but never truly remarkable. That’s been the calling card of Need for Speed games for many a year now, with entries in the series either being second-place finishers on their best day at the track or godawful gambling simulators at their very worst.
Things are going to be a bit different with the next Need for Speed game, as longtime developer Ghost Games has pulled out of that race and handed their wheels over to Criterion Games. The studio that made its name with the Burnout series, Criterion is no stranger to Need for Speed: They’re responsible for the superb Hot Pursuit of 2010 and they drifted back into view with the one-two punch of Need for Speed Most Wanted in 2012 and some additional work on 2013’s Need for Speed Rivals.
“As you’ll know we have real history with racing and with Need for Speed. We’re focused on bringing Criterion’s unique point of view, unparalleled game feel, and high quality innovations that will chart a new future for this wonderful series of games,” Matt Webster, General Manager of Criterion Games wrote in an open letter about the future of Need for Speed under the studio.
As we at Criterion shift gears into the future with full focus on developing the next Need for Speed game, this will be the final update for Need for Speed Heat. Since the launch of Need for Speed Heat and as players continue to tear it up in Palm City, we’re listening to what you love about this experience, and what you all believe could be even better. With these insights, we have a terrific foundation to create the most expressive, most socially connected, action-packed game yet for Need for Speed fans and beyond.
While I’ still baffled at how EA refuses to throw money at Criterion for new Burnout games, I’ll take what I can get at this stage. If Criterion is looking to make a Need for Speed game that builds on the best parts of that entry, there’s a number of ideas I could easily throw at them: First, it’s time to go into high graphical gear and aim for a 60fps drag race, so that Need for Speed can at least be on par with more modern racing games.
Second: If you’re going to continue with the outlaw car culture theme, craft a story that isn’t filled with characters who would be better suited to starring in a low budget Fast ‘n Furious rip-off. Third: Keep the divine drifting from Heat, because making my tires scream around every corner when the perfect fusion of braking and pedal to the metal acceleration was hit, was pure perfection.
Need for Speed games know how to build a city, know how to craft cars which feel great and throw a ton of customisation options into the pot. It’s up to Criterion, to take all those elements and combine them together in a manner that feels interesting and makes me want to hit the streets while flipping the cops off.
Last Updated: June 9, 2020