Skip to main content

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 — Turbocharged is a shockingly ambitious sequel

Summer Gaming Marathon Feature Image
This story is part of our Summer Gaming Marathon series.

Going into my Summer Game Fest Play Days appointment for Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 — Turbocharged, I had low expectations. Despite Digital Trends’ lukewarm review, I found this game’s 2021 predecessor to be a pleasant racing game surprise when it quietly came onto the scene. For a sequel, though, I was just expecting a minor refresh of the tracks and vehicles to be the extent of the upgrade, as can sometimes be the case with racing game sequels. While both of those things still happened here, after playing about a half-hour of Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 — Turbocharged, I found it to be a surprisingly ambitious evolution of core ideas introduced in the first game.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 - Turbocharged gameplay on Nintendo Switch.
Milestone

Most importantly, the player’s moveset has expanded, as the boost meter can now be used to jump in the air and strafe to sideswipe other vehicles, and skills can adjust a car’s handling. Tracks now feel a lot more alive and ingrained into the world around them as you’ll be racing inside and outside, and a new Waypoints mode allows you to explore those hubs more freely. Add on even more features I couldn’t experience during my demo, like the story mode and some new multiplayer modes, and Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 — Turbocharged has become my most anticipated racing game of the year.

Boost, jump, strafe

Everything that made the original Hot Wheels Unleashed fun returns here. It still has a fantastic sense of scale as you race on Hot Wheels tracks through real-world locales; in fact, that’s only emboldened in these sequels as tracks now go outside and a vehicle’s handling can change depending on what type of terrain the player is on. This is still a very arcade-style racer that rewards drifting and boosting, but there are some remnants of more realistic physics, as you can crash into a wall or fly off the track if you aren’t careful.

The new boost powers and vehicle types emphasize that further. Strafing helps if you need to slightly adjust your positioning on a track, but if timed right, it can also bump enemies off the track in satisfying ways. Boost and jumps can also be utilized together to open up new shortcuts, although you may fly off in an unintended direction if you don’t time it or use it correctly. Handling also differs depending on what vehicles you are using and what skills you have equipped.

Two cars bump into each other in Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 Turbocharged
Milestone

During my playtime with Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 — Turbocharged, I enjoyed using the new motorcycles. These reached exhilarating top speeds, although I had to be careful when I made turns because a mistimed boost or jump became tough to recover from. I was able to access the game’s skill tree and buy skills that adjusted the vehicle’s handling and boost, making the game easier. That skill tree system and earning currency to purchase new vehicles should be the main driving forces of the game’s progression. Unlike Lego 2K Drive, this game won’t feature microtransactions, making it safe for kids.

Milestone will let players experience all these gameplay enhancements in a wide variety of modes, including a story campaign. One of the new modes I got to try is Waypoint, which tasked me with driving around to preset waypoints across the environments tracks are set in. This gave me a greater appreciation for the environmental design and vehicle handling on different terrain. I’m sure other modes that I didn’t get to try, like Drift Master or Time Attack, will also do a great job highlighting other aspects of the game. Players will be able to keep the content fresh themselves too, thanks to a new sticker and livery editor and a returning track-builder mode.

Even if you’ve played a lot of the original Hot Wheels Unleashed, upgrading to this sequel seems like it will be worth it. The core identity of this racer is mostly the same as before, but the experience has been expanded in crucial ways that allow the game to one-up its predecessor. New vehicles, environments, and movement options go a long way to enhance what could’ve been an easy licensed cash grab of a sequel. Whether you’re a fan of the original or just wondering if you should buy this game for your kid because they like their Hot Wheels cars, this racing game looks like it will do both spectacularly.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 — Turbocharged launches for PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch on October 19.

Editors' Recommendations

Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
Volgarr the Viking 2 will take you back to your Ghosts ‘n Goblins days
A viking slashes a tree in Volgarr the Viking 2.

Developer Digital Eclipse is working on a surprising project: Volgarr the Viking 2. The 2D retro sequel will launch on August 6 for PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

The news is an out of left field reveal. The first Volgarr the Viking game released in 2013 and was made as an ode to 1080s classics like Ghosts 'n Goblins. Despite being a small release, it sold over 1 million copies over the past decade. As revealed during today's Guerrilla Collective stream, the series is coming back with a new sequel by Digital Eclipse, the team behind this year's Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story.

Read more
Silent Hill 2’s long-awaited remake will arrive just in time for Halloween
The Silent Hill post office shrouded in fog.

The Silent Hill 2 remake from Bloober Team got two new gameplay trailers and a release date announcement at PlayStation's State of Play presentation and a Silent Hill Transmission stream directly after. Fans will be able to return to the town of Silent Hill on October 8 on both PS5 and PC.

The first new trailer highlighted a mix of gameplay and cinematics from the game, primarily focusing on James and Angela. This was the first real look at the new actors and cinematic direction for the game, while gameplay sections were still highly edited. The trailer did show off many of the game's iconic monsters, including nurses and armless figures, as well as a few of the notable locations, such as the hospital and prison.

Read more
The best video games of October 2023: Mario, Spider-Man 2, and more
Spider-Man soars through the air in a biomechanical suit in Marvel's Spider-Man 2.

October 2023 was one of the best months for video games in a long time. From the indie to the AAA space, there was a spectacular new game coming out every few days. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and Super Mario Bros. Wonder arrived and improved upon their predecessors in almost every way, while indies like Jusant and Wargroove 2 hit the scene with fresh ideas. While the phrase “there’s something for everyone” is played out in the game industry, that truly felt like it was the case this month.
Having so much to play can also be overwhelming, though. Players are left to sift through which titles are worth checking out, which are fine, and which should be passed up entirely. To help you out on that search, I’ve rounded up our seven favorite games released during the blockbuster gaming month of October 2023.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Nintendo dropped a brand new 2D Mario game this month, and it's outstanding. Super Mario Bros. Wonder lives up to its namesake, eliciting a sense of wonder with its expertly designed levels that reward players who poke around in them and also feature Wonder Effects that can drastically change what players are doing on the stage. From singing Piranha Plants to a top-down perspective shift, Super Mario Bros. Wonder stays consistently fresh and creative the whole way through.
“With its wealth of unpredictable levels, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the series’ best 2D entry since its SNES days,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in a four-star review of Super Mario Bros. Wonder. “It’s still the same familiar platformer, but one that’s been given a new lease on life thanks to a fantastic new art style, delightfully absurd transformations, and flexible difficulty. It’s the closest I’ve gotten to recapturing those magic moments with the original platformers, even if there’s still room for Mario to grow into his new overalls.”
Personally, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is my favorite game of the year and one that I know will appeal to gamers of all ages and skill levels. If you only play one game on this list, I urge you to make it this one. Super Mario Bros. Wonder is available now exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
Marvel's Spider-Man 2

Read more