Need for Speed Payback Review

Need for Speed Payback Review

Need for Speed Payback

EA’s racing mastodon, Need for Speed is back with Payback. After the mixed impressions from the version in 2015 developer Ghost Games hopes to deliver a much better racing experience. Did they¬†succeed? Or did the engine fail again? Buckle up and let’s find out in this review!

Enjoying another sunset with my favorite girl. “insert car brand because I honestly have no idea what car this is”


  • The open world from Payback named¬†Fortune Valley¬†is pretty big with lots of sub-missions and collectibles. Searching for Derelict Car parts for example is really fun, I felt a little like Sherlock Holmes to be honest. Other collectibles are hidden coins and smashing through billboards. More importantly some of the level design is really memorable, I really loved to take a casual drive through the mountains and a Las Vegas Ripoff. It does all look a little lifeless though, but the visuals are beautiful.
  • Sound-wise Payback is fantastic, driving through a tunnel and hearing the¬†ventilation shafts is simply¬†unheard of in other racing games. Vehicle engine sounds and track sounds are really good too, even better than Forza games. It is all very believable done and in general¬† I have to say: great work Ghost Games.
  • When it comes to multiplayer I was surprised by how smooth the game played. I had no connection issues and it was like racing against computer racers. No lag at all and earning reputation awards after finishing the five-streak games was really addictive.
Nobody likes show-offs, except with racers.


  • The story in this Need for Speed is about, yeah you guessed it, payback. I’m not going to spoil anything but your crew will battle The House, some kind of “evil” racing organisation that controls who wins and loses. You can imagine that they aren’t happy that you and your crew don’t follow what they demand. What follows is an extreme clich√© story and some boring¬†narrative.
  • Pursuits are cool but at the same time really disappointing too, you won’t have police chases while roaming around and actually escaping the police in events is simply some kind of time trial race. Other Need for Speed games have done is different and better.¬† A missed opportunity to not have them available in free-roam, when you are being chased however it is a-really cool to have that extra adrenaline feeling and seeing them crash is a visual treat. (No real policeman are harmed though)
This is a typical car/helicopter love screen, in a few seconds they will hug each other intensely.


  • It just doesn’t make sense that an arcade racing game is haltered by a massive money progression wall. The in-game currency is even worse than my monthly paycheck, it takes ages before I can actually buy a new car or even Speed Cards. (You also earn Speed Cards by winning events and they improve your car a little) Even while playing on easy it becomes near impossible to win events because your car is too weak, forcing you to grind and grind previous events for money. I don’t know about you but I hate to be forced to replay stuff again.
  • Need for Speed used to be¬†innovative,¬†today it is clearly playing a catching up game. That’s not bad per se but from a known and popular racing IP I expect a little more than reusing ideas from other racing games. I regularly had a “been there and done that” feeling.
  • I hate to write this but I think Speed Cards is the worst idea in years¬†for the video game industry.¬† It doesn’t make any sense, is totally unrealistic, totally random and is simply unpleasant and not rewarding. I honestly love the idea behind lootboxes but the way Payback uses it isn’t fun, isn’t something that adds to the game, isn’t rewarding, it is terrible. Getting something randomly is fun but it shouldn’t be tied with progression, as I was saying with the in-game currency, you can actually be stuck and forced to replay (or grind) a lot before you can actually handle a racing challenge.
  • A short one that doesn’t need more explanation: Payback doesn’t have¬†steering wheel support.

Need for Speed isn’t a bad game, the arcade racing is pretty good and the game looks stunning but the progression, story and Speed Cards set-up damages it¬†immensely. Developer Ghost games delivered a good game with some bad design choices.

: We are currently investigating the differences between Xbox One and Xbox One X. Xbox One X is 4K/30fps. Check back soon!

Dev:Ghost Games Publisher:EA Played on:Xbox One X | LifeisXbox received a digital review code, provided by EA.