Need for Speed Payback Gameplay Reveal | First Impressions
So if you've been living under a rock for the past few hours, EA held their E3 press conference earlier at EA Play, showing off a handful of new things coming such as eight new maps for Battlefield 1, debut multiplayer gameplay and the announcement of free DLC for Star Wars Battlefront 2, and some great looking new IPs from Bioware and Hazelight Studios. However, the biggest thing at the show for me personally, and most of you reading this, was the official gameplay reveal of Need for Speed Payback.
The gameplay demo to put it simply was very action-packed and reminiscent of sequences out of Fast & Furious and Need for Speed The Run. The demo was essentially several sequences from the heist mission you see the three main protagonists attempt to pull off from the reveal trailer. Tyler and Jess rendezvous at a gas station near a free way outside of the city, eventually chasing after a passing truck in Tyler's modified Mustang RTR, and taking down several of The House's goons (or mandems as we like to call them) in blacked out Dodge Challengers and BMW SUV's in an attempt to steal back a Koenigsegg Regera. The gameplay ends with Jess climbing on board the truck and stealing the Regera, swapping gameplay over to Jess' perspective and finishing off in a cutscene of a swarm of police with a helicopter unit directly in front of her. An awesome set piece to debut, with a Grand Theft Auto V vibe when it came to swapping characters as such.
However, there are a few criticisms I have with the game from that demo, which I imagine when more details start rolling out, will most likely alleviate any big concerns. For starters and one of the most noticeable I had from the very beginning was the cinematic takedowns. In Need for Speed Payback, when you progress to certain points in the story after doing x amount of racing events, you'll unlock these heist missions such as the highway heist shown in the demo. Think of them more like Grand Theft Auto V when get to pull off a big heist in story mode, or when you reach a certain amount of followers in Forza Horizon 3 and unlock a signature event. Because of these missions, I'm hoping that these Burnout-esque takedowns are only possible during such heist events and NOT against AI or human racers during races. I like the cinematic approach they're taking for these heists and find them to be a quite unique spin on Need for Speed as we know it that'll probably play just as fun, but the constant 3-4 second slow-mo cameras on every takedown started to feel repetitive, so hopefully Ghost can change these so they only trigger when an epic takedown occurs eg. getting a car to slam into a wall or power pole. The choice of gameplay for this demo while I and many enjoyed it, was certainly not the best in terms of what the general public viewing it will think of it. I've already seen tons of articles and fans on the internet slamming and getting the game confused with Burnout, and think that it's nothing more than a set of linear missions like Need for Speed The Run with no customization what so ever. Next time we get gameplay Ghost, maybe try incorporate customizing the car you'll use in the heist first before starting the mission.
Speaking of customization, yes it is returning in Need for Speed Payback, and in a way very familiar to those who played Need for Speed (2015) but taken to the next level. In the video above, BlackPanthaa is customizing a Nissan 350z, one of the newest additions to the car list for Need for Speed Payback, which shows you the new level they've taken to customization in this game. Headlights can be changed to ones with certain tints on them, cars drop much lower to the ground when lowering the right height as well as camber on wheels stick out much more noticeably than they did in the previous game. Much more brand names have been added in terms of body parts, with them also confirming on an earlier live stream that they want each car in the game to have customization options in every possible category, with Ghost made parts for cars that don't have customization options - an issue they're remedying from Need for Speed (2015) where certain car had a wide plethora of customization options, and some (particularly newer or exotic tier cars) having little to anything. One thing you may have noticed is how similar the customization menu is to Need for Speed (2015)'s, with it being practically like for like with a few different UI changes. While I don't mind having the same type of UI again this time round, this very well could be changed in the final release of the game to something different.
All in all, after seeing this gameplay I'm VERY excited to see more and Ghost Games looks to be on track to deliver an amazing new entry in the Need for Speed franchise, with a combination of the best elements from games and movies all merged into one big Need for Speed package. In the coming days as we start to get the site rolling, I will be putting out a big list of what I want to see in and improved in Need for Speed Payback, but in the meantime check out an exclusive livestream BlackPanthaa had of the demo, showcasing the Highway Heist mission and more customization down below!