Need for Speed: World First Look

Black Box is bringing EA's long-running racing series to a PC near you.

You'll soon be able to dive back into the world of Razor Callahan (among others) in the upcoming massively multiplayer online racing game Need for Speed: World from EA and developer Black Box. This is the first MMO racer from EA since 2001's Motor City Online and represents a different approach than that ill-fated game; it looks to take advantage of modern technology while it harks back to two of the most popular recent entries in the series.

Those two entries are Need for Speed Most Wanted from 2005 and Need for Speed Carbon from 2006. The two cities in which those two games take place--Rockport and Palmont City--have been fused together in NFS: World to create a huge drivable area. It has also been completely relit so that the night races that were a hallmark of Carbon's gameplay now take place in the daytime. So with a return to familiar territory, can we also expect the return of characters like Most Wanted's Razor Callahan or Carbon's Darius? EA reps were keeping those cards close to their vest during our demo. They said that the game will have a story of sorts, but they didn't reveal much more.

So, a lack of cutscene-intensive narrative differentiates NFS: World from its predecessors, but that is far from the only difference. Designed to run on everything from high-end gaming rigs to lowly netbooks. Naturally, we didn't get a chance to test its performance on a netbook--the build we played was on a higher-end PC, and, as a result, it ran at a relatively smooth clip. We drove our jet-black Mazdaspeed 3 with the keyboard--using the W, A, S, D buttons to accelerate, steer, and brake (you could also use the arrow keys to steer). That might offend racing purists, but to the game's credit, it is playable with this control scheme. Black Box is also planning on adding support for controllers and wheels in the future.

The build we played came from the game's recently ended closed beta period and had a minimum of features. We were able to join a quick two-car race against another journalist on hand for the demo (online races will top out at eight people in the final game). Bringing up the map will show you the location of other drivers, which you can also filter to see only friends. Clicking on a player will let you warp directly to that location, and you can also instantly join single-player or multiplayer races the same way.

The online race we played started as a two-lap race, but it didn't end that way, thanks to various power-ups that you collect. These power-ups have a variety of effects on your car or the race itself; one called "traffic magnet" causes all traffic to be sucked into a particular carlike vortex. There's also a standard turbo-boost power-up, a power-up you can use to quickly evade cops, and even a power-up that will tack on an extra lap to the end of a race, giving stragglers that much extra time to catch up. Power-ups have an associated cooldown with them, and you'll need to wait a minute or two before you can use them again. You'll also have only a set number of each type of power-up, though you can earn additional power-ups at the end of a race.

Driving with a keyboard is functional…but we're waiting for controller and wheel support.

Finishing a race will also earn you reputation points (think XP) and cash you can use to buy stuff for your cars. The customization options in the build we played were pretty limited--all we could do was repaint or add vinyl designs to our ride. Eventually, you'll be able to add customized parts to your car that will affect the handling. If you earn enough rep points, you'll level up your driver profile; when you level up, you can choose a new skill for your profile, such as additional boost time for your NOS or one that makes your vehicle tougher and (as you continue to level up the power) will eventually make you nearly impervious to harm, which is handy when an opponent uses a traffic magnet on you.

Expect plenty of licensed cars to zip around in with NFS: World. Expect lots of new features to be added as the game progresses as well--since it's an online game, it's conceivable that the developers will be adding new vehicles, new modes of play, and additional power-ups after the game is released this summer. What hasn't quite been nailed down yet is how much it will all cost, though it seems like EA is leaning toward a free-to-play model up to a certain level, with microtransactions spread liberally throughout the content. We expect to see more of the game later this spring as we get closer to Need for Speed: World's launch.

Editor's Note: In a previous version of the story, we referred to Need for Speed World as a browser-based game. EA representatives confirmed that the game will run as an executable. GameSpot regrets the error.

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Discussion

36 comments
thetrellan
thetrellan

They say you can't complain if it's free, but I beg to differ. Only after reaching level 10 did I realize that the free portion is just one long demo. You never earn a second car because they expect you to pay for it all, so the cash you earn on the way-- $80,000 in my case-- is useless except to purchase your first car and your first upgrade. And since it was all pretty boring, I was hugely disappointed. I still think Most Wanted was their best. If you prefer track racing, then you probably never bothered to learn your way around Rockport, which is a shame, since the pursuit elements were designed to encourage that very thing. Burnout Dominator, on the other hand, absolutely required it, and as a result, I never got very far with it. I'll get around to it though.

Frosty3223
Frosty3223

Need for Speed was one of the greatest racing games until Underground. Hot pursuit 1 and 2 were both Legends. Awesome and very addicting these games kept you immersed and gave you that thrill of racing everyone is looking for. since then its been a flurry of disappointments, the attempt to implement story lines into the games was a great idea with underground, and carbon but failed to deliver. Then, *sigh* Prostreet. You either love Prostreet or you Hate it. NFS was all about breaking the law and trying to outrun the cops. With prostreet it was just another racing sim. I go to Gran Turismo for a professional Racing sim. I'm hoping that NFS World, will finally bring the serious back. I'm not sure about how an MMO racing game will keep players interested but Cheers for trying something new...

cheezmanblob
cheezmanblob

hmm... maybe i'll wait for hot pursuit to come out later this year

Byga
Byga

99% of people played NFS for what was. now mmo ,wtf what is next ? car flying ?come back to old style or you lose more fans

magnusm1
magnusm1

...and then suddenly EA will take money for it. EA In a Nutshell.

jakesnakeel
jakesnakeel

Played the beta last night. Loved it. Super addictive. Great race after great race.

Kris024
Kris024

The cities from Carbon and Most Wanted were awesome. Combine them and this will be the best NFS enviroment made.

69GamerKid69
69GamerKid69

Thiz iz gonna be EPIC!. combining the 2 superhit gamez Most Wanted(which i think is the best NFS ever) and Carbon is really genius. lookin forward 2 this game.

radu191289
radu191289

I was giving hope to see a captivating NFS again, but this one looks like one! reading the "editor's note" I think that NFS World won't be a "pay for item" similar to Battlefield Heroes.

MN121MN
MN121MN

You can't play this offline alone??? BTW, if you noticed the buildings in Undercover, the location and all of that, you will notice similarities to Most Wanted....

sopny
sopny

:O its EA Game

sopny
sopny

Easy game its :)

Yossi1007
Yossi1007

WHAT R U TALKING ABOUT...FIAL? FOR LONG TIME I DREAMD FOR ME AND MY FRIENDS DRIVING AS A CREW DRIFTING IN A FREE OPEN CITY BTW NFS GOT GREAT GAMEPLAY BUT UNDERCOVER WAS TOO EASY AND PROSTREET DOESNT EVEN DESERVED TO BE CALLED NEED FOR SPEED (BECAUSE ITS FAILNESS) UNDERSTAND???? GOOD SHIFT IS GREAT JUST IF U LIKE REAL DRIVING BUT.... THEY NEED TO DO REALISTIC STREET RACING GAME(WITH COCKPIT OPTION OFCOURSE OH AND COCKPIT CASTUMIZING) NOT LEGAL RACING GAME

Yossi1007
Yossi1007

WOW I DIDNT KNOW ITS GONNA BE FREE AND I TOLD MY FRIENDS I GONNA BUY IT AND I DIDNT EVEN KNEW ITS PRICE LOL

gamercosti
gamercosti

free is not necessarily a good thing... in real life u get what u payed for

kidrock456
kidrock456

If the game is anything like Motor City Online I am sure this game will be great. Its Free =) Need I say More.

k1ll8_saurav
k1ll8_saurav

@gamercosti I feel that the game won't be an epic fail. One, because DICE has had some server issues for the first week or so, but eventually cleared up. Of course, that's a big no-no for an MMO, but it's not like anyone smart is going to buy it immediately. Plus, the MMO aspect of it sounds cool. It's like APB on wheels. The only gripe I have is that Black Box is producing the game, which sucks because they were responsible for ProStreet and Undercover. I hoped that whoever made Shift either produced the game or at least advises them since the "visual parts will affect performance", which pretty much hints at my most favorite feature: AutoSculpt.

gamercosti
gamercosti

this will be a giant epic fail because: 1. nfs focuses on graphics alone and fails on gameplay 2. if u fail @ gameplay and single player... next step is to make a MMO? 3. EA fails at making servers and it will take a miracle for a "new guy" to build a proper one if the "masters" fail 4. their management has no idea what their fans/customers want. Example legal racing... they fail again and again and they keep going with their idiotic ideas and sink into lower and lower marks and still nobody decides to roll back to the older ideas @iamezza yes, porsche (nfs 5) was the best and still is the closest game to simulate a real car so far (who has a drivers license knows what i'm talking about) and 2nd best was underground for its innovative tuning aspect followed closely by most wanted for the bad boy vs cop feel

kakababu
kakababu

where is the full version of the video posted above?? I really want to see it.Help!!!!!

iamezza
iamezza

Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed (Porsche 2000 in some regions) was the best. It easily had the best physics of any NFS game.

CrazyBahal
CrazyBahal

there is not too much MMO Racing games and 90% of them are bad but this game is free and a NFS so its fun to play.

Arykuarius
Arykuarius

underground 1 is my favorite. i hope this one turns out good.

reeree746
reeree746

Seems a bit like burnout......

Sirbobislost
Sirbobislost

@ vahnn0 no your not that's my favourite one as well

The_Ultra
The_Ultra

I liked Shift. we still play it a lot

vahnn0
vahnn0

Am I the only one who thinks NFS: Underground 2 was the best?

Xeonz
Xeonz

I think Test Drive Unlimited 2 might turn out better than this as an M.O.O.R. (Massive Open Online Racing) game.

marioman87
marioman87

I think Burnout is much better than Need For Speed. Heck, I think EA is starting to lose faith in Black Box, because they're having Criterion develop a new Need For Speed as we speak.

DredWulf
DredWulf

I preferred High Stakes and hot Pursuit 1

leysaley
leysaley

NFS used to be my fav......LONG LONG time ago...now it hasent developed anything potentially awesome..i compare NFS series with the DiRT and Grid..its nowhere near..now I m thinking to stop tracking also..

GlaciusXL
GlaciusXL

NFS is the series that seems to intentionally ignore the obvious more than anyone over and over. Not every NFS fan is going to agree on which of the 83 re-inventions is the best but I think a huge chunk would echo me in saying that Hot Pursuit 1 & 2 were the best.

I personally favor NFS3:HP (original music ftw) with NFS:HP2 and Most Wanted following close behind.

Just make some nice tracks in unique environments or remakes of classic ones, give us our exotic cars and online MP, with some good ol original music, epic cop chases like from MW and cameras like Shift and you've got a winner.

And every time a new NFS game is announced I have to say... EA, it's only been 11 years... might wanna get on making a new ROAD RASH!?!?!!!?11123411/???!!!