The Need for Speed series has a long history, and within it, there are incredible highs alongside the lows. For me, the biggest era for gaming was when EA put Criterion in it, then best known for the Burnout series, which produced several standout series, including Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit – a top-notch, no-nonsense action racing game. doubt the best in the series.
As good as the games were, Need for Speed always switched units, although in recent years it really felt like they were just spinning their wheels. The latest installment, 2019’s Need for Speed Heat, was completely fine, but it didn’t feel like anything special, and in a world where Playground has now run through five Forza Horizons, it just didn’t have that thrill factor. Clearly, publisher EA thinks something needs to change too, because it has now moved the series from previous developer Ghost Games to two of its in-house studios that, for racing fans, can only be called a dream team: Codemasters and Criterion.
We can confirm that Criterion Games and the Codemasters Cheshire development team are officially teaming up to create the future of @NeedforSpeed, forming a Criterion studio with two location hubs. [1/3]May 12, 2022
“We can confirm that Criterion Games and the development team at Codemasters Cheshire are officially teaming up to create the future of Need for Speed,” the statement reads. Codies Cheshire is being folded to form “a Criterion studio with two location hubs. This integration builds on the close partnership the two studios have developed over the past few months.
“Sharing common values and similar cultures, we strongly believe that unifying the enormous wealth of knowledge from both teams will help us deliver the best racing experiences we can for our players.”
Criterion really needs no introduction for fans of action racing, with Burnout Paradise still being the best example of this type of game ever made. It has made a lot of brilliant racing games over the years, although recently it seems to be acting more as a support studio for other big EA titles like Star Wars Battlefront 2 and some Battlefields.
Codemasters Cheshire is a studio reborn from the ashes of Evolution Studios, a specialist racing developer best known for the Motorstorm series, which was put together by Codemasters after Sony unceremoniously closed Evolution in 2016. EA acquired it last year as part of your Codemasters acquisition, which cost $1.2 billion. The broader context is that Codemasters itself has become a specialist racing studio, with both the Grid and F1 series offering consistently excellent games.
So… the next Need for Speed could be some good shit. You couldn’t combine two development studios that would excite me more about an action racing game, and Need for Speed is all about that pure abandon to the thrill of the road. Ridiculously beautiful, ridiculously fast cars doing ridiculous things with an amazing licensed soundtrack – if this game lives up to the talent behind it, we might have something special.