Creative director Will Ho breaks down the cinematic replay feature in Need for Speed Payback

Nathan Lawrence 27 September 2017

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Need for Speed Payback is set to include a dynamic cinematic replay feature. Here’s how it works and how much control players have over it.

One of the coolest parts of the Need for Speed Payback reveal trailer at EA Play, the pre-E3 event that had its second showing in LA earlier this year, was its cinematic presentation. Ever since the Need for Speed franchise raced over to the Frostbite engine – the same game engine popularised in the recent (admittedly stunning) Battlefield games – with the lacklustre but beautiful Need for Speed: The Run, the franchise has jumped from visual strength to strength.

Need for Speed Payback is no exception to this rule, and it’s being built by a team that’s both familiar with Frostbite and able to take advantage of the advances in the engine’s development since it first appeared in The Run. Payback didn’t just look great at EA Play, it also introduced a new mechanic that dynamically pulls the camera away from your street view and offers a slow-motion perspective at some recent carnage that the player caused.

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Need for Speed Payback sets you loose in the gritty underworld of Fortune Valley, racing for street cred as you seek your vengeance against the criminal cartel known as The House.
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For instance, shunt a cop towards a wall, and this dynamic camera system will likely highlight that for you. It’s a fantastic inclusion for a trailer and satisfying when you see it for the first time in action, but there’s also a chance it might become a bit tired, especially if you have to repeat mission sections. On top of this, if you spark a particularly spectacular crash, it’s something you might want to replay or even share with friends. Going into our interview with creative director Will Ho, we were definitely keen to know more about how the system worked.

Here’s what he had to say.

How much control does the player have over that cinematic presentation? Does it happen randomly? Does it happen all the time? Can you turn it off? Can you make it happen with every single crash?

Yeah. It doesn’t happen all the time because that might be intrusive, but what we try to do is we reward you with that presentation for the most significant ones, right? The biggest wrecks, so the ones that, often there’s an objective, right? In our highway heist, you’re trying to hijack this rolling 18-wheeler down a highway and they don’t take kindly to that, so they send enforcers after you. And so, in that case those are significant wrecks along the way. So, we give you the pay-off, right? You know, they’re battling with you. You take them out, right? And so, it’s the most significant ones, but if you really just want to stay focused, we’ll also let you dial that back and turn it off.

Can you re-watch them? Because some of them are epic and you’re watching it for five seconds and then you think, ‘No, back to the race. We’ll watch that later and share it with our friends.’

You can’t do that but you can always replay those missions and find out how you can create new moments every time you play.

On one hand, it’s a smidge disappointing that you can’t share your latest slow-mo crash moment with a friend. On the other, it’s nice to know that the in-engine system is dynamic and controlled by the player’s actions, which technically means that if you play through the campaign again, you can create all new wondrous moments of destruction that are of the ilk that’s worthy of inclusion in the inevitable contemporary Blues Brothers reboot.

Disclaimer: EA sponsored Nathan Lawrence’s flights, accommodation, and meals while he was at Gamescom 2017.


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