EA's update of the 2010 cops-and-racers title amps up the visuals and makes lots of improvements, but it's taking on your friends on every platform that seems most fun.
If anything seems like it's set to define gaming for the foreseeable future, it's cross-play. More and more, the lines between platforms are being erased, dropping the barriers that previously kept fans of Xbox, PlayStation, PC, or Nintendo hardware from facing each other head-to-head. With its remaster of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, publisher Electronic Arts is updating a beloved racing game, but it's the chance to race against friends regardless of their platform that might be its most exciting aspect.
We got a chance to spend a few hours with Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered on PC ahead of its announcement, playing through a number of events in Career mode and seeing a bit of how Hot Pursuit's updated Autolog social features work. In short, the remaster looks and plays extremely well--it's fast and intense, and the improvements made by developer Stellar Entertainment make Hot Pursuit feel right at home on current-generation hardware.
The thrust of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is street racing, and you'll drive a variety of real cars as you try to take top honors in various illegal events. But you don't just flaunt the law--you can also play as the cops, where your goal is to chase down racers and try to crash them or run them off the road in order to make arrests. You can switch between the two sides throughout the single-player Career mode and in multiplayer events.
Autolog is Hot Pursuit's way of turning every event into a competition with your friends, even when you're not playing together. It tracks your times through events as you play them and pipes them into the games of the people on your friend list (and vice versa), so you're always afforded ways to race against each other, regardless of when you play. To keep the competition going, Autolog also recommends challenges and events for you based on what your friends are playing. Cross-play means you can compete against your friends and their times regardless of where you play. It's worth noting, however, that cross-play doesn't include cross-saves, so you won't be able to jump between platforms.
There's a lot that's gone into Hot Pursuit Remastered to bring it into the current generation, according to creative director Chris Roberts. In addition to amped-up visuals, developer Stellar has enhanced things like colors and car paints, as well as how navigation works. Stellar has completely rebuilt the garage section so that you can spend more time admiring the cars you unlock along the way, and Hot Pursuit's photo mode has been updated to go with the improved looks. There's also a new wrap editor that will be added after the remaster launches, offering more opportunities to customize your rides.
From a gameplay standpoint, one of the more expansive tweaks is how Stellar has incorporated post-launch content from the original Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Cars, events, and multiplayer modes such as Arms Race and Most Wanted--that were previously part of downloadable content--are now all part of the remastered game.
"We've taken all of the post-launch content woven into the career, so it's an additional six hours of content that's spread out throughout the single player game, which allows for a much more varied and exciting route through," Roberts said during an online press event. "Even if you're familiar with the original game, there's a whole bunch of new stuff in there woven in that will surprise you as you're going through. A whole bunch of new events for both the cops and the racers."
Roberts and Criterion Games general manager Matt Webster think that change will be pretty significant for returning players. Working in post-launch content means that Stellar has reworked progression through the game to incorporate events and cars that were part of downloadable content, so you'll encounter those things organically as you play through the career. Even if you played a ton of Hot Pursuit in the past, the new Career mode in the remaster will feel different as it opens up different options and races at different times.
Graphically, Hot Pursuit Remastered looks great. Roberts said the game can run at 4k resolution and 30 frames per second on the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro, or at 1080p and 60 FPS on both. On the base versions of the Xbox One and PS4 and on the Nintendo Switch, you'll get 1080p and 30 FPS.
Higher-end PCs can manage 4k resolutions as well as the higher frame rate, but the game is locked at 60 FPS because that's how the physics in the original Hot Pursuit were coded, Robert explained. "We did try it at 120 FPS and bad things happened," he said.
In practice, Hot Pursuit Remastered is a great time, whether you're fleeing the cops or smashing racers into guard rails. Stellar has improved a lot of little things both big and small, adding to a title that a lot of players already love without messing too much with a good thing. Elements like shortcuts are easier to spot and navigating courses is clearer, but the core of Hot Pursuit's gameplay--the intense speed and tight racing controls--feel great even if you're not much of a racer in general. Even if you're unfamiliar with it, it's easy to jump into a new car and find yourself drifting around corners and dodging cops with relative ease, which is a testament to how intuitive Hot Pursuit Remastered feels. And of course, constantly knowing your friends' records as you work your way through the game helps make every event a little more exciting.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is headed to PS4, Xbox One, and PC on November 6, and Switch on November 13--but there are no plans for a next-gen release, according to Criterion and Stellar.