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Everything we know about Need for Speed Heat, including how you can play early

The Need for Speed franchise is probably the most well-known arcade racing series of all time. It’s been around for 25 years and has made appearances on virtually every major console since. Some of that acclaim is due to the fact that a few Need for Speed entries are among the best racing games of all time — most notably the Hot Pursuit and Underground games. But Need for Speed has fallen into a rut as of late. Electronic Arts and current series developer Ghost Games will look to change that with Need for Speed Heat, the recently announced the 16th mainline entry in the series that will return it to itsr and hopefully move it forward, too.

Ahead of Need for Speed Heat‘s launch, take a look at everything we currently know about the upcoming street racing game.


Need for Speed Heat ushers in a new open world dubbed Palm City. The Florida setting, based on the reveal and gameplay trailers, looks heavily inspired by Miami, with palm trees lining the streets and a seaside vibe.

Speedhunters Showdown

Need for Speed Heat is broken up into two distinct different styles of play. By day, you compete in the Speedhunters Showdown, a sanctioned racing series where you earn cash to go towards purchasing car and character customizations.

Cops patrol the streets during the day, but they won’t try to stop you during the legal racing series. Instead, they will (try to) pull you over for speeding and breaking traffic laws while exploring the open world. The gameplay trailer also showed a cruiser ramming into the side of your car to keep you from making too much Bank.

Daytime racing appears to be done at your own pace. You can race around town searching for collectables and completing challenges in between races. This is where you get your bearings.

Earn street Rep by night

Need for Speed™ Heat Official Gameplay Trailer

Recent Need for Speed games have had a day/night cycle. While Need for Speed Heat has drastically different play styles depending on whether the sun is up or not, you get to choose when to advance to night. EA hasn’t outlined exactly how this works, but the gameplay trailer stated you can hang out in the Speedhunters Showdown as long as you want before pushing the sun down and turning your headlights on.

Night racing is more risky and not exactly legal. When racing at night, you’re aiming for Rep, a new type of currency that you risk by competing in underground street races. The better you perform, the more Rep you can earn. But as you earn Rep, your “Heat” level rises. Based on the gameplay trailer, Heat levels go from one to five. It’s essentially a “wanted” scale. The higher you are on the scale, the more attention you’ll get from cops.

Speaking of the cops, they aren’t really playing by the rules at night. They are far more aggressive and will try to knock you off the road and total your car. They will even send armored trucks and choppers after you if you’re Heat really starts to rise.

If you get caught by the cops before going into a safe house or your garage, it appears they will take your money and the Rep you’ve earned during that night session.

Your overall Rep level rises as you compete and perform well in night races. Based off of pre-order bonus details, at least some cars unlock by raising your overall Rep level.

Car upgrades require both cash and Rep

While the two modes are separate in style, they feed into one another when it comes to upgrading your vehicles. Spending Rep at the garage unlocks new parts amd customizations for your car. After unlocking a new part, you can purchase it with cash earned from the Speedhunters Showdown.

Ghost Games and EA have overhauled the garage, offering far more visual customization features, as well as a new exhaust tuning system. EA has said Need for Speed Heat will have more in-depth car customization than previous entries. We only saw a snippet of the garage during the trailer, but the majority of cars will be fully customizable.

The rides

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Need for Speed Heat will have an impressive 127 cars to choose from at launch. A sizable percentage of the list has already been revealed. Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren — the lineup includes a greatest hits of dream car manufacturers. You can view the full list of revealed cars here.

Character customization

New to the series, you’ll also be able to customize your in-game driver avatar. Sure, it seems like you’re sitting behind the wheel at all times outside of the garage, but this has been an area that has been lacking in the series in recent entries. Now you can build your own character and switch up their attire whenever you please.

Need for Speed Heat Studio app

Loads of games have companion apps nowadays, but the Need for Speed Heat Studio app actually seems ridiculously cool and useful. Available now on iOS and Android, the Heat Studio app lets you customize cars on your smartphone and then send them into the game to use. The gameplay trailer claimed “weekly car drops” will come to the app, so there appears to be a great incentive to use it.

Early access for Origin subscribers

Like all EA games, Need for Speed Heat will be available early through the Origin Access program. Origin Access Basic subscribers can play a trial up to ten hours starting November 5. Origin Access Premier members get full access to Heat on November 5 on PC.

AllDrive multiplayer returns

Need for Speed’s online multiplayer mode, AllDrive, will return in Need for Speed Heat. You can create teams with friends or matchmake into sessions. Once you have a crew, their vehicles will also appear in your garage. The free roaming multiplayer mode will be an important part of the leaderboards system. Your teammates’ performance in races will help boost you up the leaderboards as well. Multiplayer races will be available for up to 16 players.

Release date and pre-order bonuses

Need for Speed Heat launches November 8 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC in two different editions. If you pre-order the standard edition ($60), you’ll get the K.S Edition Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X starter car.

  • PS4: Pre-order standard edition
  • Xbox One: Pre-order standard edition
  • PC: Pre-order standard edition

The Deluxe Edition ($70) comes with the K.S Edition Mitsubishi Lancer and three more K.S edition cars that will unlock gradually as you raise your rep: BMW i8 Coupe (level 10), Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe (level 14), and Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport (level 18). You’ll also get four exclusive character outfits and a five percent boost for both Bank and Rep rewards.

  • PS4: Pre-order Deluxe edition
  • Xbox One: Pre-order Deluxe edition
  • PC: Pre-order Deluxe edition

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Steven Petite
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven is a writer from Northeast Ohio currently based in Louisiana. He writes about video games and books, and consumes…
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