Need for Speed’s Marcus Nilsson Explains What to Expect From the Best Reboot Yet

From glossy paint jobs to performance upgrades, this Need for Speed is all about making every car feel unique. 

The new Need for Speed made its first appearance at E3 2015 during a lengthy press conference, flaunting the game’s gorgeous graphics and a vision of the classic Need for Speed Underground for modern gamers. Set in a fictionalized version of Los Angeles, Ventura Bay is a vast  playground to explore and dominate, racing to earn Rep and XP by completing various driving stunts and avoiding the cops.

It’s every bit a classic helping of familiar Need for Speed gameplay, right down to immensely detailed cars you’re zipping around in. But that customization isn’t just a nice perk: it’s actually one of the most integral parts of this reboot, and what could end up making this entry in the series even more memorable than the last.

We sat down with Marcus Nilsson, executive producer on Need for Speed and founder of studio Ghost Games, to get a better idea of what gamers might be able to expect from the game.

While working on Need for Speed, did you have features in mind you wanted to incorporate from other games in the series?

Marcus Nilsson: We took inspiration from Need for Speed Underground, Carbon, and other titles from the series. I wouldn’t say we took anything from one specific game. Different people take different things from each game. We’re making one with lots of inspiration from old games and putting it all together to make something new.

For racing game fans who prefer the realism of titles like Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo, what about Need for Speed will ultimately end up catching their eye ?

Nilsson: We wanted to make a game where people can jump in a car, drift, or play how they want in a really cool, modified car, and if you look at realistic games, they’re just not like that. This game is all about flexibility and the unique experience it’s delivering, the way we have the customizable models, etc. People can set up their car the way they want, and that will end up attracting players.

How detailed is the car customization system?

Nilsson:Need for Speed will use after-market products to make sure we include the components that are hot in the world right now. We’ve created a deeper customization than ever before. Performance, aesthetics, it’s super deep from a visual standpoint. There are over 50 cars, custom body kits, rim colors, window tinting, front wheel width, rear wheel width, etc. It’s super deep and very intuitive, with 1500-2000 different stickers and other items to create whatever wrap you want.

The way we’re handling personalization is something you haven’t seen in a racing game before. For your car, you can determine how it feels: Is it grippy, sticky, or drifty? Each car can be tailor-made to perform the way you want to.

Why did you decide to reboot Need for Speed in the first place?

Nilsson: The idea came from taking over the franchise and looking into its history. Everyone knows Need for Speed as a brand, but if you were to ask 10 people what it means to them you get 10 different answers. It’s generally associated with games from years ago, which is not good for business. We aimed to find out what fans want and chose to make a long-term plan for Need for Speed going forward.

What cemented the decision for you to omit the ability to play as the police in the reboot?

Nilsson: Cops as an entity should always be in a Need for Speed game, because it’s not Need for Speed without cops, but we don’t need to play both sides in every version. We wanted to celebrate car culture blooming and flourishing. If you look into it, it’s an interesting world. To have that play out, it didn’t feel right to include that experience. Need for Speed Rivals had both but ultimately hindered that. You have an awesome racing experience, but cops would always come to interrupt, and we wanted to move away from that.

Are you planning on including any microtransactions going forward?

Nilsson:  No, we have no plans for that. We will not charge for anything. People are paying money up front for a deep racing experience. We will follow up with additional content. We are moving away from a DLC plan and will update on a case-by-case basis, when we need it to fix balancing, deliver more features and new ways to play, as well as additional challenges.

Need for Speed is available November 3, 2015 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with a PC release pending for 2016.