Need for Speed is right up there among the greats in the gaming industry. The racing sim series might not be the greatest in its genre, but it is influential, iconic, and important. Ever since making its debut in 1994, Need for Speed has rarely deviated from its signature traits of easy car customization, high-octane car chases, and of course, fast arcade-style racing action.
However, we'd be lying if we didn't say that the last few Need for Speed outings haven't been as good.
Having said that, Criterion is back with Codemasters Chesire in tow.
With two racing-specialist studios working together on the next Need for Speed games, we have high hopes for the franchise's future. However, if anyone from Criterion and Electronic Arts happens to come by this article, we're hoping that they consider some of the things that we suggested below.
1. At least more than a year of support
Just when Ghost Games finally got a chance to show off once EA handed it the wheel for 2019's Need for Speed Heat, the publisher just had to go and pull the plug on the studio. Just a few months into Heat's release, EA dissolved Ghost Games and effectively killed all support for the game right there and then. Given how even non-live-service games expect to get at least one year of support these days, we're hoping that Criterion gets a chance to tweak Heat long after it has come out.
2. Take notes from Ghost Games
After four tries (three if you don't count 2013's Need for Speed Rivals, which was made in collaboration between Ghost Games and Criterion Games), Ghost Games finally got things right with Heat.
Of course, Ghost Games is no longer. But, that doesn't necessarily mean that Criterion can't learn from Ghost Games. If anything, Criterion should improve on Heat's foundation. Also, it's not like Ghost Games is gone. The studio still exists as EA Gothenburg, with EA shuffling its employees around and assigning them to studios that need help. Even though Criterion is a bigger studio that probably has more employees than Ghost Games ever had, it could use the "expertise" of someone who spent years with Ghost Games, working on multiple "lesser" Need for Speed games.
3. Bring the racing back to the streets
Need for Speed isn't just an arcade racer - it's an arcade racer with a street racing feel. The only problem? The series hasn't felt like an illegal street racing game since 2012's Most Wanted. Heat did try to bring the series back to its roots, but it felt more like you were just bad guys doing the right thing as opposed to, well, breaking the law and being deviants just for the sake of it.
There's a reason why 2005's Need for Speed: Most Wanted is the best-selling game in the franchise. Criterion will probably want to look into what made the game so successful.
4. Not "online-only"
The good news is that Criterion knows what it's doing with online games. Both of Criterion's solo Need for Speed outings won awards for their multiplayer and the studio should have only gotten better since. So, if Criterion does go with the "online-only" route, we can at least take solace that Criterion is competent in this area. Still, there's no reason why a game should be online-only these days. We have years of proof that it's not necessary, and, in most cases, detrimental.
5. More brands and variety
If there's one thing Ghost Games missed with its past three Need for Speed outings, it's the lack of brands and variety. Even though Criterion isn't Ghost Games, we don't think fans will want to see the same spoiler and splitter on every car. Not to mention, the lack of variety in Need for Speed games lately is baffling.
6. A first-person view
There are people who will argue that the first-person view doesn't have a place in an arcade racing sim like Need for Speed, but you won't hear that from us. First-person view is a must on any racer, Need for Speed included. Early NFS games even had a cockpit view available like 1999's Need for Speed: High Stakes and it worked well, so why wouldn't it work now?
As a bonus, the next Need for Speed game can add another layer of customization in the form of interiors if it enabled first-person view and who wouldn't want that?
Even though EA canceled any additional work on Heat, the game still got cross-play. This meant that players from Xbox One, PS4, and PC, could all race against or with each other in Heat. The only thing missing was cross-progression. Although this is wishful thinking, we'd love to see Criterion try and implement cross-progression in future Need for Speed games.
Electronic Arts hasn't had the best luck with its legacy franchises these days. For example, DICE is rethinking Battlefield 2042 from the ground up after a failed launch. But, Criterion has a chance to give EA a much-needed win with NFS 2022 or whatever it ends up being called once it comes out. Hopefully, the upcoming racer lives up to the reputation of its developers and puts the series on track to enjoying more years of prosperity.