The first teaser video for the latest instalment in the Need For Speed franchise has been let loose on the internet, and so too has the game’s unusual choice of hero car.
Dubbed Need For Speed Heat, the trailer doesn’t go into too much detail about the game itself – nor does it show much in the way of what the actual gameplay looks like – but we do get a good solid look at what appears to be a major character’s vehicle in the game: a Polestar 1.
A Polestar what?
We’ll forgive you if that name means nothing to you. After all, Polestar is one of the world’s youngest automotive marques, having been turned from a motorsports and tuning house into a standalone brand with its own unique models back in 2017.
Its parent company is Volvo, as if you couldn’t tell by the general appearance of Polestar’s first production car and newly-minted Need For Speed hero car, the petrol-electric hybrid Polestar 1:
So why on earth does a Polestar 1, a fairly sober-looking coupe birthed by a car manufacturer known for making the safest cars on the road, have what appears to be top billing in a game about street racing? It is, after all, a car more likely to appeal to architects than the Dominic Toretto's of this world.
Short answer: we don’t know, and we’re just as confused as you are. It’s a deliberately edgy choice though, and that’s not a surprise from a franchise that loves to be self-consciously edgy. But does it belong to a team mate? Is it a car you can win? Is it a boss car you need to take down? It features in the above video pretty prominently, so we assume it has an important role in the game.
We’ll probably find out soon enough. Today’s trailer is just a glossy hype reel, with a gameplay reveal set for August 19. We know a few things about how the game will be structured though, with a day/night cycle dictating the kind of racing that can be done.
By day the player can take part in legally sanctioned motorsport, earning money to pay for cars and modifications. When the sun sets, the game becomes about higher-stakes street racing to earn reputation points, while dodging the police along the way.
There appears to be a healthy amount of other, more "typical" performance cars available to drive in game, with stuff like Porsche 911s (naturally), Japanese turbo metal like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evoltion X and R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R, Detroit iron like the Viper and of course a healthy smattering of supercars.
Car customisation, always a Need For Speed strong suit, will of course be a big element of Heat.
“Our fans have been clear that they want more cars, more customization, and more challenges, and we’re tuning up on every aspect,” said Riley Cooper, creative director at Ghost Games.
With big splashes of neon and the fictional setting of Palm City looking suspiciously like Miami, it’s clear that Heat will be a visually vibrant game compared to the often dark and gloomy NFS titles that precede it, so the choice of a bright yellow Polestar kind of makes sense – it stands out, and it’s very much different to the sports cars that have come before it.
However whether the game itself will differ from recent NFS instalments like Need For Speed (2015) and Need For Speed Payback (2017), which both received lukewarm reviews thanks to - among other things - poor vehicle handling, over-reliance on microtransactions, and often cheesy cutscenes, remains to be seen.