Back to: The 2020 Autoblog Gaming Guide

'Need for Speed: Heat' first impressions

A bit of a mixed bag so far, but we're excited to see more

Need For Speed is a classic series of racing video games that allows players to experience the “underground” side of racing. The series has gone through many iterations and is back again with its latest offering, NFS: Heat. Here you’ll find our first impressions on the upcoming game, but we’ll have a full review ready for you this Friday, Nov. 8, when it launches. 

I’ll preface my impressions by saying that while I loved Need For Speed: Underground 2, I haven’t seriously played an NFS game since. So I was pretty excited to give this one a go. I was able to play about the first 2 hours of the game so far, with even more to come on our live streams throughout the week. 

For me, so far, the game has been kind of a slow burn. I would’ve liked to see some more actual racing in the first 20-30 minutes. There seemed to be a lot of cutscenes and menus right off the bat. Even once I got into the racing, frustratingly, the controls haven’t quite “clicked” for me yet. NFS: Heat makes heavy use of a drifting mechanic, but the controller input to make that happen effectively goes heavily against my personal racing-game play style. Like most racing games, you use the right trigger on the controller to accelerate. No issues there, of course. Where the weirdness comes in is drifting — you're intended to lift your finger off the trigger then quickly hit it again while turning to start your drift. I’ve found it to be pretty obtuse so far. Often, I “feather” the acceleration button in racing games, meaning I let off and push down on the acceleration often. I’m used to sometimes tapping the acceleration button, or sometimes holding it in a halfway depressed state rather than pushing all the way down. In my 2 hours of NFS, doing things like that caused my car to swing around in ways I didn’t want it to countless times. It would’ve been fine if it felt like I was doing something wrong, but it felt like the game was fighting me.

In the “pro” column, though, the graphics and audio are very good. I really like the visual style of the game a lot. It’s a cool city to drive around in, in both day and nighttime, and the soundtrack is fantastic. The first song you hear is A$AP Ferg’s "Redlight," which is maybe the hypest way to start a video game of all time. I’m also really enjoying the story and characters so far. Your companions Ana and Lucas are both super likable and well-acted. I’m looking forward to seeing the story progress. 

As this is just a first-impressions post, I’m left with kind of a mixed bag of feelings, but I’m definitely excited to see how my thoughts evolve as the game progresses. If you’d like to watch the review-in-progress, tune into our Twitch streams this week on Tuesday and Thursday, 2-4 p.m. ET to see how everything looks for yourselves!

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