Need for Speed Payback is not a bad game per se, it's just for every great idea and moment that it has there's something to match that on the opposite end of the spectrum. Which is a shame because we don't get many pure arcade-style racers these days, ones where nitrous magically recharges every few seconds and you can conduct a hairpin turn in a matter of moments at close to 300km/hour.
Also, Need for Speed Payback opts for the grind as opposed to celebrating and highlighting what makes it enjoyable.
Which, brings us to Payback’s biggest problem. There aren’t enough events, and that progression itself is built entirely on the concept of you racing and taking part in the same ones over and over. One of the achievements and trophies awarded early on has a description that, well, welcomes you to the grind.
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At its core, the upgrade system is perfectly fine. Cards used to improve different aspects of a vehicle built around an RPG loot-style system that results in bonuses and other goodies. Which is all well and good until your car is well below the recommended car level for the next event, and there’s just no way to quickly improve the rating. Because each new card awarded after a race is entirely random in what it’ll end up being, meaning that if your car is level 236 and you need to get it to 260 a new card awarded after repeating an event might only net you a small increase to level 239. Or worse, a worthless card to trade-in – where three trade-in tokens let you roll for a new card.
Laying out the ins and outs of mechanics like this isn’t exactly my style, but do the maths and you’ll begin to see where this is headed.