E3 2013: Need For Speed: Rivals Hands-On Preview – I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost!
Written Saturday, June 22, 2013 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Let me first start by saying that Need For Speed: Most Wanted was a disappointment to me. A great game in terms of visuals and mechanics, yes, but it lacked that structure that we’d expect from a Need For Speed game, especially one from Criterion. Need For Speed: Rivals, created by the EA’s studio Gothenburg-based studio Ghost Games, is the next game in the series and on first impression, it doesn’t seem to have learnt from Most Wanted’s mistakes.
One of the phrases of E3 that was doing the rounds seemed to have something to do with blurring or “destroying” the distinction between single-player and multiplayer. You know, the one we’ve heard all before, and what that usually means is: purely multiplayer and not really anything for single-player gamers. That’s pretty much Need For Speed: Rivals based on our first hands-on with the title.
‘All Drive’ is at the core of the racing experience in Rivals, offering players two separate careers to undertake: cops; and racers; in a persistent online world of sorts – thus supposedly blurring the line between single and multiplayer. Powered by the Frostbite 3.0 engine – which is obviously what makes it such a beautiful looking racing game – Rivals takes place in the online, open-world of Redview County, where you’ll be either winning races and avoiding cops as a racer; or taking down racers as a cop. That’s pretty much it.
At the core of the two careers is a points system, very similar to that of Most Wanted, the real difference here though is Rivals’ multiplier system. The longer you stay out on the road, the more points you accrue and the better you drive – whether it’s by driving stylish or avoiding cops/taking down racers – the higher your multiplier goes, thus, the more points you earn. It’s a classic risk vs. reward system. Once you’re not feeling brave enough to continue, you can head to a “hideout” and bank said points. If you stay out too long and push your luck, there’s a chance you can lose that multiplier and any unbanked points.
It wouldn’t be a Need For Speed game without tools and gadgets at your disposal, and in our hands-on demo cops had an EMP and a spike strip, while racers had the classic NFS boost and EMP. It’s fairly straightforward stuff.
In order to get into races/chases, whatever your poison may be, all you have to do is get handsy on the Left Bumper. The whole point of Rivals’ open-world is that all the races are dynamic and started simply. Whether you’re going across a starting line or looking to challenge a fellow racer, the concept of starting a racer rarely changes.
Sounds good, right? Yes, but the reality of it all doesn’t really pan out in quite that way. As a racer, I barely found I had time to start a race – or I was going the wrong way over a starting line and couldn’t turn back because of heat on my tail – as the on-road action was far too chaotic. I spent most of my time trying to shake opposing cops off my tail – driven by racers at the show – than actually getting involved in some straight up racing.
The world has it all though, from wide open coastal roads with waves crashing up over the banks onto the road, off-road shortcuts, forest highways, small side roads and what not. You name it, it seems as if Redview County has it. Oh, and have I said how gorgeous it looks too – the joys of next-gen, huh? There’s speed traps and jumps galore dotted around too, and there’s even a dynamic weather system for players to keep themselves immersed in the world. Heck, even Ferraris are back after a 7-year hiatus, which is a win for both EA and us gamers.
It’s early doors for Need For Speed: Rivals, and while the driving engine seems to be in a good place – as does the visuals, obviously – we’re hoping that Ghost Games adds some much needed structure to the title. While Ubisoft’s The Crew is opting to do something similar with their – much bigger – open-world, the fact they class themselves as more of a driving game, as opposed to a racing game – meaning you don’t get the constant aggro from the cops too – means they are in a much better position. Everything else though is business as usual for Need For Speed.
Need For Speed: Rivals is scheduled for a November 21st and November 24th release on current-gen platforms, and an unspecified release date on next-gen consoles.