Need for Speed Rivals

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Need for Speed Rivals
Need for Speed Rivals cover.jpg
Cover art featuring a Ferrari F12berlinetta being chased by a Koenigsegg Agera R police car.
Developer(s) Ghost Games
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Writer(s) Will Staples
Composer(s) Vanesa Lorena Tate[3]
Series Need for Speed
Engine Frostbite 3
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Xbox 360
Xbox One
Release date(s) PlayStation 4
  • JP 22 February 2014
  • NA 15 November 2013[4]
  • EU 29 November 2013
Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
  • NA 19 November 2013[4]
  • AUS 21 November 2013
Xbox One
  • NA 22 November 2013[4]
  • EU 22 November 2013
Genre(s) Racing
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Distribution Optical disc, download

Need for Speed Rivals is a 2013 racing video game set in an open world environment. Developed by Ghost Games and Criterion Games, this is the twentieth instalment in the long-running Need for Speed series. The game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on 19 November 2013. It has also been released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as launch titles in the same month.


Rivals features a dynamic weather system. Ferrari also returns to the franchise for the first time in eleven years.

Rivals features gameplay somewhat similar to the earlier Hot Pursuit, with exotic cars and high-speed police chases.[5] Players take on the role of a Racer or a Cop, with each side of the law offering its own set of challenges, risks and rewards.[6] Rivals features eleven upgradeable gadgets such as EMPs, shockwaves and the ability to call in roadblocks.[5] The game takes place in a fictional location known as Redview County. It's an open world and features over 100 miles (160 km) of open road, larger than that of 2012's Most Wanted, but on the same size as Criterion's Hot Pursuit.[7] The open world features a similar set-up to Most Wanted, with several jumps, speed traps and unlockable cars, as well as shortcuts that are not shown on the map.[8][9]

Rivals features a full career progression for both Cop and Racer. When playing as a Cop, there are three types of career that can be followed - patrol, enforcer, and undercover.[10] Progression is by means of Speedlists for Racer and Assignments for Cop, which are sets of objectives which involve dangerous driving, maneuvers, and race standings. When the player completes a set of objectives, the player levels up and unlocks new content, and is presented with another set of objectives to choose from.[11] The Autolog system, a competition-between-friends system developed by Criterion for Hot Pursuit and since used in other titles in the Need for Speed series, factors into the progression system, comparing how quickly the player completes an Assignment or Speedlist to other players' times and posts them to a Speed Wall for local and global leaderboards.[11]

Rivals features a new social system called the AllDrive, which allows players to seamlessly transition from playing alone, to playing with friends, described as "destroying the line between single player and multiplayer". This allows players to in engage co-op gameplay as well as play against each other.[6] The game also features a dynamic weather system, which makes "the world feel alive in a much bigger sense than any other Need for Speed game."[5]

Rivals also takes on some gameplay styles of earlier Underground titles in the franchise with cues on aesthetic vehicle personalization, as paint jobs, decals, rims and license plates and liveries can be modified, as well as vehicle performance, and various Pursuit Tech gadgets.[8][12] With the exception for the Aston Martin Vanquish (and many DLC vehicles), all vehicles are only available in either racer or police variant.[13] Ferrari officially returns to the franchise in full glory for the first time in eleven years since 2002's Hot Pursuit 2 (although they previously appeared in 2009's Shift as Xbox 360-exclusive downloadable content), with the F12berlinetta, 458 Spider, 458 Italia, FF, Enzo, and 599 GTO being the Ferrari vehicles featured in Rivals.[14]


There are two storylines that the player can choose to play by: the Racer storyline and the Cop storyline. Upon completion of a certain number of sets of goals, the storyline moves forward, earning the player new cars in the process.


The player assumes the role of Zephyr, a veteran street racer. Well known for his publicity stunts, Zephyr regularly uploads street racing videos as his point of argument that his fellow racers in Redview Country should also be free.

Upon his posting of a video of his car outrunning cops, a number of other racers also begin to post their own videos of themselves outrunning police cars. The police force begins to challenge the racers, and in the process, Officer John McManis, one of their pursuit drivers, is injured after a racer wrecked his car. After this incident, the police begin to use excessive force on racers.

However, accusations of such force come to public attention, and the entire police force is sidelined while the FBI bring in their VRT, or Vehicle Response Team, consisting of ex-special forces and ex-street racers.

The VRT, however, are no better than the police force at stopping racers, thanks largely to Zephyr and other racers. The VRT only manage to endanger the public, and on the midst of this, new street racers show up, including one by the name of F-8, or Fate, who is seen in the news reports driving a red Enzo Ferrari. F-8 intentionally wrecks other racers, and eventually Zephyr realizes that F-8 is a cop in disguise as a street racer, going out to intimidate racers. Not long after, Zephyr steals a decommissioned Koenigsegg Agera R police car, rebrands it with Zephyr-based graffiti, and proceeds to wreck cops with that car.

As a result of that incident, Zephyr is seen as a Robin Hood-esque character, with public sympathy shifting towards the racers. Later, the police are cleared of their excessive force charges, and return to the streets. In a public address, Zephyr sets a number of locations as places where cops and racers can face off against each other. He also organizes a Grand Tour, a race spanning most of Redview County.

Near the end of the Tour, however, as Zephyr is about to win, a police blockade forms, and he crashes into the blockade at high speed, flipping and damaging his car. A flash news report is broadcast not long after, with initial TV reports showing his car smoking heavily, and paramedics rushing to the scene.

This is not before the cinematic cutscene suddenly cuts to Zephyr, who is revealed to have survived the crash. While briefly awake, he repeats the dialogue he states in the intro of the game, "I am the reality show, the 15 minutes you'll never have." He then starts his damaged car's engine, leaving the player to guess as to what happens next...


The player goes to his training to be a member of Redview County Police Department. After he completes his training, he is now a member of the police force.

One day, the RCNN (Redview County News Network) broadcast a flash news report, in which a video of street racing was trending online. Also, dozens of racers began to upload copycat videos similar to the featured video, and it was revealed that street racing became viral around the county and they seek notoriety. Because of that, the public accuses the police of intimidation, and they hold several rallies and marches against RCPD. Days later, the Mayor of the county went to the general hospital of Redview to visit RCPD officer John McManis, who recovered from multiple injuries while on patrol.

Because of sense of intimidation, the US Department of Justice has been summoned to investigate the cases. All officers have been placed on restricted duty and are accused of gross misconduct. With no agency available to serve the streets, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Vehicle Response Team, or VRT, has been called in to substitute RCPD while under investigation.

While under restricted force, the player thinks that if they want to win, they need new rules. Since the racers operate outside the law, the player decides to go rogue and infiltrate the racers, by means of impersonation. He uses an impounded Enzo Ferrari fitted with Pursuit Tech to wreck some racers as an officer, while at the same time acting as a racer. He also creates his own alias: F-8, also known as Fate. He uses his tactics to apprehend the racers while pretending to be their opponent in their racing, without blowing cover.

F-8 becomes popular online after several news reports of him wreaking havoc. As a result, violence breaks more and more. Because of that, the restricted officers have been called to be recruited to VRT. However, the VRT only accept skilled and aggressive drivers, and they do not accept many cops, because they only bring chaos instead of bringing peace. F-8 decides to join VRT, and a test is given to him. After passing the test, he is accepted into the VRT. The United States taxpayer invests millions of dollars to F-8, and expects that it will be well spent.

His mission at the VRT begins: to disrupt the network of the racers. The VRT have identified three known associates of a street racer named Zephyr via radio signal decryption. The three use encrypted radios that ping during communication. Because of that, locations of Zephyr are vague because of the three, so F-8 needs to seize the comms in order to clear the signals.

After that, the radio signals are now clear, and they are able to decrypt Zephyr's radio signal. At the signal, a message from Zephyr says that he wants all racers to bond together to protect themselves from their enemies. The VRT tell F-8 that he is the only one who can take him down. He then hunts Zephyr and takes him down.

However, F-8's car is totaled during the pursuit. He is in critical condition, feared to be killed in a high-speed collision with Zephyr. Even though his name was not mentioned, the sources of the news state that F-8 has been terminated from the force for his reckless actions.

In the aftermath, as it looks like the street racing epidemic is over, F-8, now a street racer, having just taken Zephyr's position as the top racer in Redview County, uploads a video, issuing a challenge to all racers.



In 2010, Criterion Games revived the series with the release of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, a remake of Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit; it won several awards, became the highest rated game in the history of the series, and sold more than 8.5 million copies.[15] Criterion Games executives stated that they wanted to draw from the series' roots and re-introduce old Need for Speed ideals (exotic cars, beautiful scenery, police pursuits, etc.). However, in 2011, EA Black Box released Need for Speed: The Run, which got mixed reviews.[16][17][18][improper synthesis?] In 2012, EA Labels president Frank Gibeau said although he was proud of the Black Box-developed instalment, but clarified that "I don't want a 60, I want an 80+".[19] On the subject of EA Black Box, Gibeau said the publisher would not be changing its alternating studio strategy.[19] At Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012, Criterion vice president Alex Ward announced that the days of random developers churning out yearly Need for Speed instalments were over. Ward would not confirm that all Need for Speed titles for the future would developed wholly by Criterion, but did say that the studio would have "strong involvement" in them.[20][21]

New studio[edit]

With EA Canada and Black Box restructured and refocused towards online and free-to-play games in February 2012,[22] EA had already formed a new studio in 2011, EA Gothenburg. Based in Gothenburg, Sweden, it was reported that the studio would focus on development games using the Frostbite game engine.[23][24][25] Also reported was that the studio was developing a game "in the Need For Speed franchise".[26] According to the CVs of employees, much of the studio's staff had worked previously on major racing titles, including Forza Horizon, Need for Speed: The Run, Project Gotham Racing and Race Pro.[26] On 22 October 2012, the series main developer Criterion Games confirmed that EA Gothenburg was working on a title in the Need for Speed franchise, but did not reveal the level of involvement or when the title would be released.[27] On 15 November 2012, EA Gothenburg was rebranded as Ghost Games. Ghost's website went live around the same time and called for potential staff to apply for a range of open positions.[28][29]

On 23 May 2013, EA confirmed their next Need for Speed game, Rivals, with a teaser trailer,[6] following marketing material tease days before.[30][31] It was also confirmed that Rivals was in the works at EA's Swedish games developer Ghost Games in partnership with Criterion Games.[14] Ghost is headed up by former DICE executive producer Marcus Nilsson, who previously led development on games including Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, Battlefield 2142 and Shift 2: Unleashed.[32] Rivals uses Frostbite 3.[33]

The development team opted to target 30fps across all platforms instead of 60fps, because of the AllDrive feature. AllDrive is the system used to seamlessly matchmake players within the same open world. Another reason was due to the number of players able to be in the same world at the same time.[34] The team asserted that while Rivals will be released on both current and next-gen systems, the versions would "ultimately be the same", aside from the graphics would look different, and next-gen would provide for more dynamic weather and gameplay.[35]

Rivals is the first cross-platform next-gen games to achieve a native 1080p across both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.[36] Talk of resolutions and frame rates became a major point of contention between Sony and Microsoft's new consoles after it emerged that both Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 run at a higher resolution on Sony's PS4 console as compared to Microsoft's Xbox One.[37]

On 30 August 2013, Ghost Games head Marcus Nilsson stated that the studio had been given complete charge of the Need for Speed franchise and that the franchise being bounced between multiple EA studios was not "consistent" with different game types.[38][39] On 16 September 2013, Criterion Games had its staff numbers reduced to 17 people total, as the majority of the studio moved over to Ghost Games UK to work with Need for Speed games.[40] Due to this, what remained of Criterion Games began work on a project of their own.[41] Rivals is being created by an 170 man team, 100 from Ghost Games, and 70 from Ghost Games UK.[2]

Because of the low sales of Most Wanted to Wii U and PlayStation Vita, Rivals was not developed to those platforms.[42] It is unknown if iOS and Android versions will be released later.

Marketing and release[edit]

System requirements[43]
Minimum Recommended
Microsoft Windows[43]
Operating system Windows Vista (SP2) 32-bit Windows 8 64-bit
CPU Intel 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo or AMD 2.8 GHz Athlon X2 Intel Quad-Core CPU or AMD Six Core CPU
Memory 4 GB 8 GB
Hard drive
30 GB of free hard disk space
Graphics hardware ATI Radeon HD 3870 512 MB or higher performance / NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB or higher performance / Intel HD 4000 Integrated or higher performance AMD Radeon HD 7870 3GB or higher performance / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 3GB or higher performance
Sound hardware
DirectX 10.1 compatible
DirectX 11 compatible
Input device(s) keyboard, optional controller Xbox 360 Controller for Windows

Rivals was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on 19 November 2013 in North America,[4] 21 November in Australia and 22 November in Europe.[4] The PlayStation 4 version launched on 15 November 2013 in North America,[4] while the Xbox One version launched on 22 November 2013.[4] As a launch title for Microsoft's new consoles, it joined Forza Motorsport 5 as racing game titles for Xbox One.[44] All pre-orders of the game granted the purchaser with an access code for the Ultimate Cop Pack at no additional cost. It includes "exclusive access to a powerful collection of items", including the Nissan GT-R Black Edition cop car, advanced pursuit technology, and a custom livery.[14]

During E3, Need for Speed started a poll in which people could participate and vote for the car they wanted to be named "King Of The Streets". The winning car would be made playable both as a cop and a racer in Rivals. On a timed basis, two cars would be put head to head on Facebook and Twitter, and the car with the most votes would advance against another car. The Aston Martin Vanquish was named the winner of the poll, and would thus be available to both sides of the law in Rivals.

Need for Speed partnered with rally driver Ken Block to act as the series' racing advisor, while EA would sponsor both his 2013 Ford Fiesta ST rally car and Gymkhana Six stunt video. A custom Ford Mustang with Block's racing livery would be available in-game.[45] On 4 November 2013, EA's Community Manager Jessica Damerst stated that a demo Rivals wouldn't be made available at launch on either platforms, and suggested that those interested in the game should just check out the official gameplay videos online.[46]

EA ran TV adverts around the release of Rivals, showcasing its new features. Online takeovers appeared on websites during release week, while a print campaign ran in specialist magazines.

On 19 November 2013, Samsung Electronics released the Samsung Galaxy Grand-Lesterlyn Babor update for selected Samsung GALAXY line of mobile products.

Due to poor reception from gamers, on 30 May 2013, EA discontinued the online pass for all existing and future EA games including Need for Speed Rivals.[47]


As with previous Need for Speed titles, Rivals' soundtrack contains a variety of licensed music.[48] It mainly comprises electronic music (including dubstep and electronica), electropop, electronic rock and hip hop. Rivals also contains original soundtracks played during pursuits, composed by Vanesa Lorena Tate.

Downloadable content[edit]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PS4) 80.59%[49]
(XONE) 79.08%[50]
(PS3) 79.00%[51]
(PC) 73.67%[52]
(X360) 71.43%[53]
Metacritic (PS4) 80/100[54]
(PS3) 80/100[55]
(PC) 76/100[56]
(X360) 76/100[57]
(XONE) 75/100[58]
Review scores
Publication Score
GameZone 8.5/10[59]
Giant Bomb 3/5 stars[60]

Need for Speed: Rivals was well received by critics at E3 2013 and was awarded with "Best Racing Game" from Game Critics Awards.[61] Previewers who had access to Rivals called the game a spiritual successor to 1999's Need for Speed: High Stakes, citing similar gameplay style.[62] Other called it an improved version of Criterion's Hot Pursuit, citing similar gameplay mechanics.[63][64]

Need for Speed: Rivals received mostly positive reviews upon release. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PlayStation 4 version 80.59% and 80/100,[49][54] the Xbox One version 79.08% and 75/100,[50][58] the PlayStation 3 version 79.00% and 80/100,[51][55] the Microsoft Windows version 73.67% and 76/100[52][56] and the Xbox 360 version 71.43% and 76/100.[53][57]

Steve Hannley of Hardcore Gamer gave the game a 4.5/5, saying "It’s raw, visceral, intense and boasts a ton of replay value thanks to over one hundred events and seamless online multiplayer."[65]

Jeff Gerstmann from Giant Bomb gave the game a 3/5, praising the game's gameplay and soundtrack but criticized the lack of amount players allowed on the online multiplayer. Gerstmann also noted that the PC version was locked at 30 frames-per-second stated that "is especially ridiculous", but still consider the PC version the best looking version.[60]

GameZone's Mike Splechta gave the PS4 version an 8.5/10, stating "For a game that touts speed in its name, Need for Speed: Rivals delivers on every front. It's gorgeous, fast and definitely furious."[59]

Negative reviews centered around the many bugs and glitches in the game, and frustrations around the game's lack of dedicated servers, triggering frequent host migration. An online Movement called #craigitup was formed to attempt to get Ghost studio's attention to the many bugs and glitches of the game and to attempt to have EA give Ghost extra time to create the next Need for Speed.[66][67]


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External links[edit]