Need for Speed: Rivals career "can't be played the same way twice"

"It's not PR bullshit," says Ghost.

EA has detailed Need for Speed: Rivals' new progression system, which it claims means you'll never play the same career twice.

The progression system will take around 12 hours to work through, developer Ghost revealed. That's about six hours as a Cop and six hours as a Racer, creative director Craig Sullivan said during an event at Ghosts' Gothenburg office attended by Eurogamer.

In Rivals, you can play a full career progression on the Cop side of the game and a full career progression on the Racer side of the game.

Progression as a Cop sees players complete Assignments, which are a list of up to six things to do in the game world. Sullivan likens Assignments to restaurant menus, each with its own flavour.

At any given time there are three sets of Assignments available to choose from. When you complete a set of Assignments you level up and unlock items, and you're presented with another set of three Assignments to choose from.

The Racer progression works similarly, except instead of Assignments you have Speed Lists. Again, at any given time you choose one set of options from a possible three, each themed around different things. One Speed List may focus more on racing and time trials. Another may be focused more on getting into pursuits and avoiding being busted. And another may be focused on driving skills and collectibles. There are hundreds of modifiers for the Assignments and Speed Lists.

"As a Racer you'll always at any stage of the game have three different flavours of gameplay in a career," Sullivan said, " and then three different flavours of gameplay on the Cop side.

"The good thing about the Assignments and Speed Lists is ultimately they bring variety to a driving game and, actually, the driving genre, where variety is not a key driver. You get bored quite quickly. I love playing Forza and Gran Turismo, but you're either in a race or a time trial or maybe doing a license test. Forza Horizon had a bit more variety, but actually not that much more, and they didn't, obviously, have the ability to play as a cop.

"So, the variety in the game comes from the ability to play both sides and chop and change between them, and also the variety of the individual Assignments and Speed Lists, and then the variety of going through them, and as the difficulty goes up, being able to change exactly which path you want to take. There's plenty of variety in the game."

Rivals' career progression contains a story, told through cut scenes designed to "pull you through" the game as both a Cop and a Racer, but details on this are yet to be revealed.

Sullivan said because of the choice offered by Rival's progression system, players will carve out different paths through the careers - despite playing through the same story.

The "sweet spot" to get through the narrative on both the Cop and Racer career is "about five to six hours," Sullivan said. "That equates to about 20 sets of Assignments on the Cop side and 20 sets of Speed Lists on the Racer side."

When you've completed all of those, you can go back and choose to play any of the Assignments and Speed Lists you haven't completed. "The replay value of the game is massive," Sullivan said.

"It's not PR bullshit when we say the game can't be played the same way twice. It's literally different every time you play."

Ghost's Craig Sullivan

Sullivan said Rivals' progression system was designed to allow as many people to play their own experiences at the same time without the game breaking around them, fitting in with Rivals' already-revealed AllDrive system.

"Jamie [Keen, designer] might start playing, and he's on Assignment number one," Sullivan explained. "He's only been playing for five minutes, but he might be friends with me. I'm halfway through the game, and I'm playing as a Racer further into the progression. Jamie's focused on doing these things, and I'm focused on doing these things, but actually, the cool thing about AllDrive is, we're in the world at the same time, taking our little progression with us, and then sometimes, depending on where we drive and what events we're doing, our experiences will overlap and create beautiful chaos.

"An example might be: Jamie's playing as a Cop and he's chasing after a guy trying to bust him. I'm playing as a Racer and I'm in a race. But my race route takes me through his."

Sullivan added: "It is impossible to have the same experience in this game ever. You cannot do it. We've got AI systems running as AI roaming the world. We've got humans running in the world, they could be picking up AI. The AI will race and chase themselves, so I could be driving around and I'll see a Cop and a Racer driving past having their own chase.

"Everything is organic. Everything feels very very different. And when two experiences cross - that could be two races, two chases, or just two humans that interact with each other - the game creates an experience you've never had before.

"It's not PR bullshit when we say the game can't be played the same way twice. It's literally different every time you play."

Need for Speed's AutoLog system factors into the progression system, too. AutoLog compares how quickly you complete an Assignment or Speed List to other players' times, and posts them to a Speed Wall for local and global leaderboards.

Ghost hasn't decided on how many humans will be able to inhabit the same game world at the same time, but is thinking of around six for the current-gen versions, and a little higher for PC and next-gen consoles.

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