E3 2013: Need for Speed: Rivals Preview

June 22, 2013

The classic Need for Speed franchise is back in action once more, with a new game, Need for Speed: Rivals set to make its debut in November. We had the opportunity to preview the game at this year’s E3.

Rivals is developed by Ghost Games under the close supervision of Criterion, who previously developed the Burnout games, another well-regarded racing series. From what we saw, Ghost Games’ take not only maintains all the elements that made Criterion’s Need for Speed games so fantastic, but also adds its own touch, with the new game focusing on pursuits. As the title Rivals insinuates, the game is now essentially about racers versus the cops. You can play through the entire game as either before switching careers.

There will always be a number of ‘dedicated’ racers and cops in the Need for Speed world. Players can elect to be on either the cops or racer side, each with their own set of offensive and defensive abilities, like EMPs, turbo boost or spike strips. Racing rivals can switch dynamically and instantly between AI and real human racers, notably, without any dropouts or loading screens. Ghost refer to this system as ‘Alldrive’, as the barriers between single and multiplayer are essentially dropped. Similarly, players can jump in and out of their friend’s game without hassle. One-on-one races can be activated instantly by challenging any other driver that is speeding past. Otherwise, you can just go to a set point on the map to start a race. Hitting L1 begins the race with no countdown.

Unlike most racing games, coming first is only one part of Rivals. Players have to build up points to become the best racer. As street racers, you earn points for by drifting, speeding, taking out other racers and crossing the finish line. However, you can lose all your points if taken out by a cop, but thankfully you can ‘bank’ points at hideouts littered across the map. On the flip side, cops earn points by taking our racers. The more points a targeted racer has, the bigger the payout if you can successfully take them out while your sirens are flashing. The cops versus racers take on street racing makes for some tense gameplay and adds a fresh and interesting spin to simply having to cross the finish line first.

Cars largely handle the same way as previous Criterion Need for Speed games, with robust handling and arcade-style gameplay. We played on the equivalent of PlayStation 4 specs and the game world looked enormous and possessed a fantastic level of visual fidelity. All in all, if you’re a fan of racing games, this is one to watch.

Need for Speed: Rivals will be out on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in November this year, with a release on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to follow when those consoles are released.

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