Mixed or average reviews - based on 59 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 59
  2. Negative: 9 out of 59
Buy On
  1. Nov 11, 2017
    Payback is a stark improvement over 2015’s entry in the series, adding likable characters, an enjoyable if not formulaic story, user-friendly tuning, and the best bits and pieces from the previous games rolled into one. Where Payback falters, however, is its misuse of compelling characters, lack of police force, and an open world which – while beautiful – only has about 1/8th of it in the city, leaving most of your driving to be an extended scenic route.
  2. Playstation Official Magazine UK
    Feb 6, 2018
    Ticks all the boxes and delivers a decent, playable experience, but it's hugely derivative and feels far too familiar, especially if you've played The Crew. [Jan 2017, p.92]
  3. Nov 14, 2017
    Need For Speed Payback is a mixed bag. One the one hand it’s a fun arcade racer with great customization, a wide range of cars and race styles and some truly great single player moments. Yet with the other hand holding an underwhelming multiplayer experience, lather, rinse repeat story missions, and some awkward storytelling pacing, NFS never seems to hit top gear in its goal to capture the glory of the old days.
  4. Nov 10, 2017
    Payback is a nice mix of elements. Police chases, races, drag, off-road and pimping your own car. And off course there is a lot of speed. But there are a few major misses too, like the forced grinding. Still, this is a solid entry in the franchise.
  5. Nov 10, 2017
    A middling hodgepodge of conflicting concepts that frustrate in the knowledge of what could have been.
  6. Nov 8, 2017
    Need For Speed Payback refines the formula of the previous game, expanding the scale and rescuing all the good ideas of the franchise, but everything becomes too familiar, repetitive and uninspired. If we add a structure that forces the player to repeat missions in order to continue, the result is a game that looks fun, but is vague and artificial.
  7. Nov 7, 2017
    Arcade racing is what has defined Need for Speed since its creation, and Payback is not an exception to this rule. However, due unbalanced progression and the irrelevant single player campaign, this new iteration seem rather uninspired and lackluster.
  8. Nov 7, 2017
    Payback is one of the better entries is the long and storied Need for Speed franchise. It hews to its Fast and Furious inspiration well, blending camp, action, tight racing, and an entertaining world to drive way too fast in. If you can get over the obnoxious introduction, you’ll have no trouble getting comfortable at the wheel.
  9. Nov 7, 2017
    A well-designed sandbox that’s at its most entertaining when you ignore what’s supposed to be the core of the game. The story is a dud, and the game's Ultimate Team-inspired upgrade system is an attempt to force a square peg into a round hole, but there’s no denying tearing down desert roads at 180 mph in a souped-up 1965 Mustang is a blast. Need for Speed Payback is a fun joyride, but it doesn’t quite hold up over the long haul.
  10. Nov 7, 2017
    Despite some strange and frustrating features, Need for Speed Payback gives you challenging races in a world that is surprisingly relaxing to explore. Although Forza Horizon 2 and 3 offer a similar but more refined experience, Ghost Games has included enough unique features to make their latest title feel like something more than a pale copy.
  11. Nov 7, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback successfully returns to its Fast and Furious roots with aplomb, but a focus on the grind and a beautiful but empty world means it ultimately falls short of greatness.
  12. Nov 7, 2017
    Payback is enjoyable because the foundations it is build on (Criterion's Burnout Paradise foundations) still work, but after this break we expected something more. Need for Speed is a good game that needs new ideas or a much better execution (or both) to be again the great franchise it was.
  13. Nov 15, 2017
    Payback is enjoyable and has many game and race modes, as well as an interesting map. However, the Need for Speed franchise is in dire need of a revamp if it wants to keep on track with its recent arcade competitors. Valle Fortune's thugs aren't really interesting and even when every Ghost Games idea is worthy, they also have a lack of ambition.
  14. Games Master UK
    Dec 4, 2017
    A fun yet flawed racer that runs out of steam prior to the conclusion of its uninspired narrative. [Christmas 2017, p.75]
  15. Nov 7, 2017
    One one hand, NFSP feels a lot like a film from a major movie studio with b-level actors, a bad script and talented cinematographers who were perhaps uninspired. On the other side, there is some fun, but simplistic quality to the gameplay. However, it is predominantly a game that is trying to do too many things at once. Unfortunately, it fails to stand out in any one area. Had it ditched the open-world concept for a more challenge and stage-based experience, the story would have been easier to follow and perhaps more engaging. Also, the game might have been able to focus more on its best attribute, which is pure, dumb racing.
  16. Dec 15, 2017
    If you stick with it you'll find a decent racer here but getting past the inane narrative, broken progression systems and longing for racers past takes some doing.
  17. Dec 14, 2017
    Trying to follow the success of The Fast and The Furious is a welcome new approach for the series, but it fails to deliver. An underdeveloped story and repetitive gameplay result in a game that could have used some more polish.
  18. Nov 28, 2017
    When you look at it as a whole, Need For Speed: Payback is a fairly decent package. The driving is fun and with over 15 hours of single-player racing plus a rather standard but competent multiplayer mode, there’s plenty of driving to do. The narrative itself is one of the most bizarre and uninteresting I’ve seen in recent memory, but tricking out your whip and boosting it around a track is fun enough to stand on it’s own – so don’t hesitate to skip through the cutscenes. If you’re looking for a simple racing game to turn on and tune out, Need For Speed: Payback isn’t a bad road to go down.
  19. Nov 24, 2017
    So much talk around 2015’s reboot of the franchise, but still the Need for Speed series seems to be going nowhere specifically. For every step forward, Payback takes two steps back and it’s pretty obvious how. A mediocre story, poor customization choices, a controversial and completely out of place - at best – incorporation of Cards and Loot mechanisms ruin a great racing game that hides underneath.
  20. Nov 15, 2017
    Despite it’s flaws, I still found Need for Speed: Payback quite a likeable arcade racer. Just having a narrative sets it apart from the other, more serious offerings this year, even if it’s not delivered with much panache. Sadly its attractive visuals, and alternate take on the genre, can’t disguise a gamut of poor design decisions, some of which serve to make the enjoyable racing less than enjoyable.
  21. Nov 14, 2017
    Scattered across its unnaturally lengthy campaign, Payback has several fun event sequences that blend cinematic action with rousing racing. And as players begin to control more sophisticated cars, the sense of excitement and speed can be engaging. Unfortunately, too much of the rest of the game feels lackluster, unpolished, and catered to other priorities besides fun. Payback hits a lot of the checkpoints on a bullet list for a big modern racing adventure, but lacks the discipline and execution to come in for anything but a disappointing finish.
  22. Nov 13, 2017
    Need For Speed Payback is fun when you’re behind the wheel, but is constrained by questionable design decisions like an emphasis on a mediocre story and a wonky car upgrade system.
  23. Nov 13, 2017
    Need For Speed: Payback is far from the Burnout style crashes we were shown at E3, leaving the game with only a nice looking open world, and a truckload of flaws like the go-buy-lootcrates grinding system, an appalling storyline and heavily scripted races.
  24. Nov 10, 2017
    In an effort to adopt the stylings of other popular, open-world racers, Need For Speed: Payback presents some fun ideas with poor execution. It also misses an opportunity to elevate an NFS staple with a tacked-on, linear version of Pursuit that annoys while simultaneously reminding me of the absence of a Burnout game on the market.
  25. Nov 9, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback’s focus on microtransactions leads to a poor progression system and an over-reliance on grinding. The game takes several steps forward, but just as many back.
  26. Nov 7, 2017
    Need for Speed returns with another flawed entry. There's the core of a great racing game here and when you're just driving around the open world, it's wonderful. The progression system encourages grinding and the basic story is delivered with B-movie seriousness, taking away from the racing pleasure. There's a better game inside of Payback, but you have to go through everything else to get to it.
  27. Nov 7, 2017
    When you’re racing, drifting, off-roading or being chased, Payback feels like a fine arcade racer in the classic Need for Speed mould. It doesn’t have the glamour or the handling of Forza: Horizon, but it’s scores big on variety, speed and thrills. Unfortunately, those simple pleasures keep getting spoilt by the amount of grinding and driving around that goes on in-between. Need for Speed was never the most-respected racing series, but it used to be one of the most fun. Payback has too much getting in the way.
  28. 60
    The new Need for Speed has some serious problems that need to be addressed: mainly, the over-use of loot boxes (and microtransactions) and a broken progression system that relies too much on randomness and grinding. The story is cringe-worthy, full of bi-dimensional characters and annoying catch-phrases. All that being said, the arcade driving model is accessible and extremely fun as always, and the open world is pretty big and full of activities that can keep the player engaged for a long while. Oh, and you're going to spend plenty of time in the garage pimping your ride.
  29. Dec 11, 2017
    The series quite clearly left me in the dust as I matured and doesn’t seem to be making any effort to change in the future. Nostalgia alone can’t keep this game afloat and it’s loot crate-like, monotonous system makes Need for Speed Payback feel stale.
  30. Nov 17, 2017
    Need For Speed Payback is several bad ideas on four wheels, a drab racer whose potential is rear-ended by an underhanded upgrade system and a story that belongs in a direct-to-DVD bargain bin.
  31. Nov 15, 2017
    If you thought an incoherent story and lacklustre world weren't enough to keep people from enjoying a game, wait until you see the microtransactions EA managed to cram into this series. What a disappointment.
  32. 50
    There's a good game buried within the shiny shell of Need for Speed: Payback. But between its frustrating upgrade system and self-serious storyline, it's hard to get invested in the title.
  33. Nov 13, 2017
    Considering how enjoyable getting behind the wheel is in Need for Speed Payback, it is frustrating that so many elements don’t work in the overall experience. You may spend most of your time having fun racing but the b-movie story that stars unlikable characters, the presentation inconsistencies, and the poorly integrated upgrade system are frequent frustrations.
  34. Nov 13, 2017
    Need for Speed: Payback features the same fun arcadey racing from 2015’s entry, minus all of the heart and soul that game had. With a by-the-books story, and a downright frustrating system to upgrade your car, it’s hard to recommend Need for Speed: Payback.
  35. 50
    There’s a perfectly fine racing game somewhere in this mess of half-baked ideas. A fun arcade racer has been drowned in enough ‘one more thing’ additions to fill the entire run of Columbo, and the result is a rather unpleasant muddle of bland story, stop-start driving, and player control being ripped away just as things get juicy.
  36. Nov 6, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback's banal racing is only magnified by this focus on grinding. The simple, almost retro, handling model provides occasional bouts of fun, but it's never enough to escape Payback's flaws, with an unwillingness to let you partake in its most hair-raising moments, and a general drabness that seeps into every layer of the game. Fast and Furious, this is not; and that's a disappointing outcome.
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  1. Nov 8, 2017
    Need for Speed returns in this, a grossly unremarkable open world racer that marks another step back for the series.
  2. Nov 16, 2017
    The glory days of Need for Speed seem a long way off. Need for Speed Payback is swamped with unnecessary guff when it should be stripped back and lean, the engine purring. There’s little to recommend in a game that feels unnecessary in so many areas, with so many blocks to actually having fun. There could be a decent game under here somewhere, but there’s no reason to hang around and find it.
User Score

Generally unfavorable reviews- based on 1031 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Nov 7, 2017
    EA ruins another game with a loot box progression system.
    You are forced to either grind out old missions over and over again, or fork over
    EA ruins another game with a loot box progression system.
    You are forced to either grind out old missions over and over again, or fork over real cash in order to progress.
    This is bad game design. EA forces Developers to make progression boring on purpose, in hopes you will want to avoid the grind. You are expected to pay, in order to not play the game.
    Avoid games with such shady business practices.
    Full Review »
  2. Nov 7, 2017
    EA can f*** off. Every game from this moment forward will be filled with lootboxes and microtransaction. All of their game from here on outEA can f*** off. Every game from this moment forward will be filled with lootboxes and microtransaction. All of their game from here on out will be specially crafted and engineered to fool you into paying even more for their crappy games. No thanks, an EA game hasn't touched my PS4 and it never will. Full Review »
  3. Nov 7, 2017
    No matter how much you like the game, dredging up a micro-transaction system from the bottom of the free-to-play mobile cesspool and puttingNo matter how much you like the game, dredging up a micro-transaction system from the bottom of the free-to-play mobile cesspool and putting it into a AAA priced game is going to land you a zero score. Full Review »