REVIEW NOTE: SOME SPOILERS AHEAD
Electronic Arts and developer Ghost Games took a break from the Need for Speed series last year because of various negative feedback and the Need for Speed team decided to go back to the drawing board. Payback features the largest open world than any of the previous Need for Speeds has seen and includes different varieties of racing. The most noticeable change to the 2017 version is the revenge-driven story, which almost mimics car racing movies like Gone in 60 seconds and Fast and the Furious.
A little too Fast and the Furious
In Payback, players control three different characters and each of them has their own skills and characteristics. There’s a street racer known to be the best street racer in town named Tyler, a cunning and fast getaway driver named Jess as well as the off-road specialist Mac. One of the additions to the crew and game cast is the mechanic named Rav who seems to always complain about being too old for this type of disruption in his town.
In Need for Speed Payback, there are a total of five types of events to compete in from Drag, Drift, Off-Road Race, and Runner events, and each character according to their strengths and weaknesses is put into specific races and events. With these three main characters, players will need to have different types of cars available in the garage to maximise all chances of winning each type of race. Once you go up against the antagonists in Payback known as “The House” you will need to make various upgrades to compete with them and find a way to end their reign of corruption in the fictional Nevada town of Fortune Valley.
Cards, Credits and all the over the top transactions
The cars you manage to obtain in Payback will need to be upgraded by spending in-game credits or competing in races to receive various upgrade cards with various parts or credits which allows players to make the necessary upgrades. You need to improve your car to be able to compete in later quests, events or take on the criminal organisation “The House”. Most of the upgrade cards cost around 15,000 credits, and in our experience, we needed two or more cards to make a meaningful upgrade and tuneup to any of the cars.
Average race awards 7,000 credits, and one card. Nothing is wrong with slow progression, but sometimes there is over the top impedance on moving the game forward, so, in the end, you will need to spend around 10+ hours playing to achieve enough credits and cards to upgrade one car to its max. One great feature in Need for Speed Payback is when you can take a scrap chassis or body found on the side of the road and turn it into a supercar which makes all the grind you have to do in the game worth it when you can create your own masterpiece.
Trying too hard to tick all the boxes
At its core Need for Speed Payback is a fun racing game with high-speed car chases, nitrous boosts and a story that seems all too familiar. It just misses the mark with the story and its overall narrative, however, if you are a long time fan of the Need for Speed franchise and doesn’t mind the grind than you will want to check it out. The developers tried very hard to tick all the boxes, which we commend but the main focus should have been made to the story and the overall choices.