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How Need For Speed Payback Moves Beyond The Crazy Crashes

If you want a hyper-realistic driving game, you sit down and fire up Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo. If you want something slightly more colorful and with an actual campaign, then you need to look elsewhere. Electronic Arts’ newest installment of the Need For Speed franchise, Need For Speed Payback, won’t merely be the crash-y arcade game of versions past. This version will include a bunch of features that even car enthusiasts can get behind.


On a grossly muggy and gray October day, we went to visit EA at its New York City offices in Times Square. There, we met with Marcus Nilsson, Ghost Games founder and executive producer of Need For Speed, and Riley Cooper, the game’s lead designer.


While Cooper wouldn’t reveal exactly what kinds of mods would be in the game, he assured us that there would be increased customization options, so everybody won’t be running around with the same build.

As a self-proclaimed car enthusiast, Nilsson (who keeps a 997-generation Porsche 911 at home on Gothenburg, Sweden) said that the studio did extensive research on the tactile feel of each new environment, such as the feedback from off-roading, in an effort to make things more realistic.

Despairingly, none of my Forza driving skills transferred smoothly over to the PlayStation or Need For Speed Payback setup that EA had for us. They generously let me sample some of the customization aspects of the game, however. I proceeded to build the most heinous Miata I could with the free in-game credits they gave me.

You can check it out in our video.

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.

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I’m really torn on whether I would like this game or not. I bought Forza Horizon 3 when it came out and immediately regretted it because I did not like the unrealistic “arcadey” handling of the cars. From what I saw in the video, this game appears to behave similarly but I’ll reserve final judgment for when I actually play it. Hopefully as a demo. I wish someone would make an open world racing game that combines the realistic physics of the GranTurismo or Forza Motorsport series with the open world maps and story lines of the Need For Speed or Forza Horizon series. Test Drive Unlimited is probably about the closest game to what I’m describing in my opinion but it’s 10 years outdated now and even that had pretty cheesy physics. My Summer Car is also a hilariously fun open world racing/simulation game that’s dirt cheap and has surprisingly realistic physics for what it is. I enjoy that game far more than I enjoy Forza 3 Horizon.