Need For Speed: Most Wanted Interview with Producer Leanne Loombe

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EA Australia recently held a press event for their upcoming instalment in the enduring Need For Speed franchise, a reboot of the relatively popular 2005 title Need For Speed: Most Wanted featuring the same name. Capsule Computer’s Benjamin ‘LinkageAX’ Webb got to sit down with the game’s producer Leanne Loombe to discuss the hotly anticipated racing game, as well as some more trivial things like car colours.

Q: Hi, could you tell us a little bit about who you are, your position in the company and your input on Need For Speed: Most Wanted?

A. Sure. My name is Leanne and I am a producer at Criterion Games. I produce the UI and Auto-Log for the game.

Q.  How long have you been working for Criterion Games?

A. About a year.

Q.  So you didn’t work on any of their classics like Burnout?

A. No I didn’t unfortunately.

Q. What exactly led you to work with Criterion? Where they always a company you wanted to work with?

A.  Yeah, well I love cars and I love games so it’s the perfect job.

Q. Moving on to Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Have you played the original Most Wanted game?

A. Yes I have actually.

Q. What would you say makes this new Need For Speed: Most Wanted superior to the classic Need For Speed: Most Wanted?

A.  As I said in my presentation [prior to interview] this is not a sequel at all. It is out own version, our own re-imagining of Most Wanted. We really loved the premise behind it – becoming the ‘Most Wanted.’ So we wanted to integrate that with friends. That is really important to us because of course friends is a part of everything and gaming is better with friends anyway.

So in our version of Most Wanted it is more about becoming the ‘Most Wanted’ amongst your friends. In the game’s open world you can be driving, racing, chasing, exploring and competing against your friends.

Q.  With the previous Need For Speed game, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, it didn’t have as much customization in it as we were use to in this franchise. Will this game feature a deeper level of customization than Hot Pursuit?

A. Well we have a lot of gameplay customization, it is not all about visual, more about changing the way the car actually handles and such. As you progress through races, you will unlock mods for your car which you can equip. So in that way it gives a sense of ownership to the player of their actual car and obviously it can be tailored for the demands of the races as well.

The mods that we’ve got are tyres, so you’ve got offroad, track and re-inflates. Then you’ve got engine, chassis, transmission (so long gear and short gear) and nitrous as well.

Q. Yeah, cool. I recall you mentioning earlier during the presentation something along the lines of each players beginning with a different car in each race. Could you please explain why it is this way?

A. Of course. So with our version of Most Wanted we decided to throw convention out of the window and almost all of the cars available from the very start of the game. For example when you load up the game, the first car you find is going to be different to the first car that I find because you might be travelling in a different part of the world to me. Because it is an open world you can go where you want to go and find cars that you want to find essentially. So if there is a particular car you want you have to travel the world to find it.

Q. Okay. So tell us a little bit about progression in this title. Is it more linear or can you do things in your own way at your own pace?

A. Well you can do anything at your own pace and that’s what the ‘speed points’ system is for anyway. Everything that you do in the game is earning you speed points. You basically decide how you want to earn those speed points. There are all kinds of ways like collectables, destruction gameplay, going through billboards and speed cameras, getting in pursuits with cops and getting out of that, finding all of the cars and milestones in the game as well all of which get you speed points. There is also certain things you can do in the car like drifting, you know that kind of thing. Of course you’ve also got the races to get speed points with. 

The single player progression side of things is that we keep 10 cars back from you in the open world. So they’re not actually available to you. They are called the ’10 Most Wanted Cars’ and you start at number 10 and work your way up to number 1. When you get enough speed points the ’10 Most Wanted Cars’ become available. You must do a one on one race with him and once you defeat him he will be released into the open world and you must go and find him and take him down. After you do that you get that car. So yes, that is the single player progression we have in there.

Q. Okay then, but is this progression part of some kind of story-line?

A. No you must defeat all of the ’10 Most Wanted Cars’ and you can become the ‘Most Wanted’ 

Q. So to confirm, there is no story-line at all in this game?

A. Nope.  No narrative at all.

Q . Alright. With the 10 most speedy guys, which one has the fastest car? The one at the end?

A. Yes of course.  So the number 1 ‘Most Wanted’ car is obviously the most desirable car. As you go through the ’10 Most Wanted’ cars they become more and more desirable as you go. Oh and they are all white.

Q.  They’re all white?

A. Yep. 

Q. Can you recolour them?

A.  No they’re all white.

Q. What do you mean they are all white?

A. They are white in colour.

Q. Okay?

A. I mean in the original Most Wanted they are called the ‘Blacklist’ and this is our ‘Most Wanted’ list which has white cars instead.

Q. So you can’t recolour them at all? You can’t drive through something and spray paint them red?

A. [Laughing] Well I guess if you want to you can. But when you are actually racing them they are white.

Q.  Oh I see, I just personally prefer a red colour.

A. [Still laughing] Okay!

Q.  Moving on then. We had a go of the multiplayer and it seems pretty insane. Does it vary? We just pretty much played the same 5 match types over and over.

A. Yeah well obviously that is only a small sub-section for show here, so we can only keep it in one place of the world. But in the actual game, there will be many different speed lists for you to choose from. That’s not all though you can create you own speed lists. For example if there are certain events that you really like you could have a speed list of all those events. 

There are 5 events to each speed list. The events are team race, race, challenge, speed test and within challenges and speed test there are lots of different variables. It really makes many different challenges in multiplayer.

Q.  So is it drop in drop out multiplayer? Is it with randoms or friends?

A.  Yes it is. You can do a public or private game and of course a friends game as well. Also if you are in single player free drive you can hit up easy drive multiplayer and you can stay where you are in the world and matchmaking will just happen. We are all about leaving you in the game world and not taking you out into any menus or anything like that.

Q. Cool. Just to finish this up, do you have any final comments about the game?

A. Well I just have to say that I think it is something unique to bring to Need For Speed like having all the cars available at the start and friends connectivity. It just means you get that unique gameplay and we think that is really powerful.

Q. Thank you for your time.

A. No, thank you! 

That concludes our interview with Leanne Loombe producer at Criterion Games. You can check out our hands-on preview of Need For Speed: Most Wanted on mobile devices here and our console preview here. As always let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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