Wow. It's been a momentous week for major racing game announcements, hasn't it? First Gran Turismo 6 was revealed as something of a swansong for the currently generation. Then, in a somewhat unsubtle attempt to trump Sony, Microsoft came along with the surprise announcement that Forza Motorsport 5 would be a launch title for the next generation Xbox One console.
And then, whilst we're still swooning over Forza's jaw-dropping graphical fidelity and pondering how it will shape the racing genre for the next generation, EA decided now would be the perfect time to tease us about this year's obligatory Need for Speed title with a sneaky screenshot.
We presumed that we would have to wait until E3 to learn what the next instalment would entail, as has. It seems, however, that EA didn't want to be left out of the racing game announcement parade – today we can reveal that this year's iteration is called Need for Speed: Rivals. And before you ask, yes Rivals will be a next generation title, racing onto PS4 and Xbox One, along with PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Naturally, they're saving the full reveal and an on-stage gameplay demo until E3, but for now here's a teaser trailer featuring a Ferrari F12berlinetta eluding the cops in the traditional Need for Speed fashion: sideways.
Yes, that's right: I said Ferrari. Yes, the prancing horse is finally back in the Need for Speed stable after a long hiatus since Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 nine years ago (excluding the Xbox-only Ferrari DLC for NFS: Shift).
As we know, Need for Speed: Rivals is being developed by Sweeden-based EA Ghosts, a team comprised of former employees from DICE in collaboration with Criterion Games, who are said to be overseeing the series for the forseeable future.
Whereas Most Wanted adopted Burnout's EasyDrive menu, Rivals' party piece is known as AllDrive, a system that will seamlessly merge single and online multiplayer gameplay experiences. Lobbies will be eliminated altogether – instead players will be able to join each other's world on the fly. Autolog will also be reappearing, but it will be toned down compared to Most Wanted's somewhat overbearing stat-tracking.
Set in the sprawling open world of Redview County, Cop chases will be at the forefront once again, with players taking on the role as either the cop or felon as in Hot Pursuit. Indeed, Rivals sounds like a hybrid of Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted, with Most Wanted's open world driving and Hot Pursuit's high speed chases featuring souped-up cop cars – in this case, a Koniegsegg Agera can be seen as the predominate police car. Like Hot Pursuit, both sides will have access to a range of abilities including jammers and electromagnetic pulses for felons and pursuit intervention tools for the cops such as roadblock requests, summon helicopters and emit shockwave blasts.
As we mentioned, Rivals will mark the next generation debut of Need for Speed. As such, we're expecting to feel the full force of EA's Frostbite 3 engine. Like in Forza Motorsport 5, while the car models look undeniably sublime it's the environments that have had the most significant overhaul, however – EA Ghost have promised spectacular a raft of dynamic weather effects that will bring the open world of RedView County to life, including snow, hail, rain, dust storms and heavy fog.
If you were hoping for a reboot of Need for Speed: Underground (some may remember Need for Speed: Underground on PSP a few years back) reboot, do not despair just yet: car customisation is confirmed. Cars can be upgraded with 'pursuit technology', and personalisation options including paintjobs, liveries, custom license plates, rims, and decals will be available. Car customisation was sorely lacking in Most Wanted so we're pleased to see EA Ghost respond to fan request. We'll have to wait and see exactly how in-depth the customisation options will be, however.
Right now, I can't help but feel a little underwhelmed by Rivals. On paper, it ultimately sounds like a rehash of Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted with car customisation thrown in, although that's not necessarily a bad thing. Still, hopefully the next generation hardware can be utilised to help evolve a series that is currently in a creativity slump. We're eager to be proven wrong, but E3 is just around the corner where we'll undoubtably get a more extensive showing of Rivals to make a more informed judgement.
On a side note, I'm liking the game logo – it has a very retro '90s style, don't you think?
Pre-order details have already been announced, too. The following bonuses will be available to early adoptors:
- Exclusive access to the Nissan GT-R Black Edition
- Early access to level 2 gadget technology
- Exclusive livery options