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Need for Speed Payback looks fast and furious – we’re not sure about fun

by Eric Frederiksen | June 10, 2017June 10, 2017 6:03 pm PDT

Electronic Arts and Ghost Games gave us our first peek at Need for Speed Payback last week. Our first real look at gameplay, though, was at EA Play this weekend. Despite having seen the game in action, we still feel like we know very little about it. Need for Speed Payback doesn’t just take a page from Fast & Furious, it takes the whole playbook, complete with a character of questionable morals jumping from a Ford Mustang onto the side of a semi truck.

The trailer is short, but it gives us a few hints at what we can expect. While the story and setting might end up being quite different from 2015’s Need for Speed, it seems like there’s a lot that carries over.

One of the most frustrating things about recent Need for Speed games is a tendency to take the camera from you at a moment’s notice, putting spectacle over gameplay. In this short trailer, the game takes the camera away from the player at least 6 times, and for a few seconds each time. While I didn’t get my own hands on a controller to check out the game, this is indicative of the actual demo experience EA had on hand. The demo is what you see above – no more, no less.

It feels like you’re no driving from place to place, but from cut scene to cut scene. As this is an open-world game, I have to imagine some of these camera-yanking moments aren’t indicative of moment-to-moment gameplay. Stuff like shunting the truck and getting your comrade onto its ladder are definitely story moments. But those crashes are going to be happening constantly, and if he game is taking me away from my car for each one, it’s going to go from fun to frustrating quickly. Ghost Games is going to have to rein this in or give players the option to turn stuff like that off.

But it sure is pretty

Need for Speed Payback looks great. It’s a visual feast. This gameplay demo is exciting, but it’s hard to tell if it’s going to be fun to play.

The story and these campaign moments seem very much inspired by Fast & Furious. I can’t count how many times characters have jumped from a fast-moving car to a semi truck ladder after talking about what a bad idea it is. I’m pretty sure Michelle Rodriguez’ character alone has done it more than once.

But again, Fast & Furious is loved for the unparalleled spectacle it offers, and trying to replicate that is going to be a tough path for Electronic Arts.

I really don’t think we’ve learned anything substantial from this demo. EA devoted a full half hour to Star Wars Battlefront II‘s multiplayer mode, and I have to wonder if that cut into what we’ve learned about Need for Speed. I’m looking forward to hearing more, if only to get a better look at what were actually in for when Need for Speed Payback hits PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 10.


Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...

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