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 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Nov 6, 2017
    An overall good game can still be brought down by bad business decisions.
  4. Nov 10, 2017
    A middling hodgepodge of conflicting concepts that frustrate in the knowledge of what could have been.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Nov 14, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback is another result of EA meddling in the concept of “games as a service” and taking an otherwise mediocre entry in the series and completely butchering it in the process to achieve this goal. Here's hoping this trend of free-to-play business strategies in full priced games comes to an end sooner, rather than later.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Nov 7, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback is a very fun open-world racing arcade game. There's plenty to do: many different type of races and a huge world with night & day cycle to explore, full of events, collectibles, opponents to challenge and one of the best car customization in the series.
  11. Nov 7, 2017
    It is rather a solid, long-lasting and varied racing game, yet still incapable of dictating new standards for its kind of membership. Need for Speed: Payback is a solid, lengthy and entertaining racing game, but it's unable to reinvent its genre. The work by Ghost Games is weighted down by its stiff singleplayer structure, which clashes with a progression system that, whilst clever in theory, fails to be as balanced as it should be in practice.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Nov 10, 2017
    Need For Speed Payback isn’t perfect – but it’s a nice step up from prior entries. Outside of Rivals, the series has really struggled over the past five or so years to really find its own way. The FMV-filled reboot wasn’t the right answer, and going for an action movie-styled variant is great for an ad campaign – but doesn’t make for a great campaign itself. Fortunately, the racing action and cop chases that litter the campaign make it worth playing. It looks great in motion, even if the action doesn’t hold up very well. The cop chases are exciting and the point-to-point races bring a level of arcade-style thrill that the series definitely benefits from.
  16. 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.
  17. Nov 30, 2017
    I really wanted this game to be good. The E3 trailer looked like the ridiculous Fast & Furious title people have wanted for a decade, and I specifically asked for this review opportunity. In my mind, I was totally down for what this game was promising and in the mood for a good Need For Speed, but this just isn’t it. There are certainly worse racing games out there, but few can match Payback’s blandness. It’s a listless, lifeless, soulless product that perfectly exemplifies the current state of Electronic Arts. Maybe next time.
  18. 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.
  19. Nov 15, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback is one of the biggest games that we have ever seen in this franchise. Yet the game does not feel fresh and different, because the story is really bad.
  20. 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]
  21. games(TM)
    Dec 31, 2017
    An infuriating slog hurt by its own structure. [Issue#195, p.80]
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. Nov 27, 2017
    All in all, I’d suggest passing on this, despite the fun racing framework that surrounds the game. The upgrade system is such a mess, and makes the entire game feel like a chore. And that even extends into the multiplayer, which requires you to upgrade your vehicle enough to stay competitive against other players too. It just makes for a really unfortunate experience, and ideally this is not something we’ll see repeated in future installments of this series.
  26. Nov 6, 2017
    EA and Ghost Games set out to make the quintessential Need for Speed by bringing in aspects that worked in the past and has mostly succeeded. The unnecessary narrative ultimately holds the game back, but it’s a blast once the world is made available to the player. The off-road racing is addicting and the search for Derelicts could remain a mainstay with the franchise moving forward. This is much less of a CAR-PG than the previous game, as players will be able to build a great library of cars much quicker. Add to this an excellent livery editor and community features, and the core elements of Need for Speed Payback will keep fans playing for quite a while.
  27. Nov 7, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback is an epic racing game thanks to his cinematographic style. Fans of the franchise will be very satisfied with all the content that awaits in the game.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. Nov 9, 2017
    NFS is famous for its storylines, but it might be a bit too much in Payback. Thankfully besides a story there is an amazing game to play, filled with endless possibilities.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. Nov 7, 2017
    Ghost Games is on the right track with Need for Speed: Payback, but there are still aspects to polish. However, the experience is fun overall.
  36. 30
    The worst Need For Speed game of the modern era, that leaves no stone unturned in its attempts to make itself as boring, repetitive, and exploitative as possible.
  37. Nov 7, 2017
    Need for Speed ​​Payback is probably the richest and most varied episode of the series, thanks to a truly vast open world, full of activities and very different races.
  38. Nov 16, 2017
    The game’s title summarises the story; there’s some betrayal, and you’re looking to do some paying back. There’s technically good dialogue, in the same way a Fast and Furious movie technically has good dialogue. Occasionally you’ll chuckle. The rest of the time you really won’t care.
  39. Nov 15, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback turns the series in the wrong direction. The story here is too weak, but it's still a central element of the game.
  40. 80
    On the road, where it matters, Payback is the most fun we've had with a Need for Speed game in a long time and while there are some questionable design choices and shady things going on regarding player progression and customisation, the developers do seem to be reacting to the negative feedback.
  41. 80
    Need for Speed Payback feels like the natural evolution of the series, and that’s a good thing considering the game ends with a great tease for a potential sequel. While I finished the story in around 15 hours, it’s worth noting that there are a ton of side events and collectibles that I failed to collect in that time. I could see myself easily doubling my time within Payback, and do so with a smile on my face the entire time.
  42. 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]
  43. 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.
  44. Nov 7, 2017
    Need for Speed: Payback's story is completely irrelevant and the last-gen graphics almost hurt the eyes, but the gameplay is as good as ever, the police remain enjoyably annoying and customizing the cars is nice and comprehensive. Recommended for a rainy weekend.
  45. 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.
  46. Nov 15, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback is a real-world example of microtransactions gone wrong. As an open world racer, the game’s inoffensively average – but when paired with its bafflingly bad progression system, it’s frankly an embarrassment. It’s scary to think that publishers are quite literally sabotaging their own games in pursuit of a bonus buck or two these days.
  47. 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.
  48. Nov 17, 2017
    This is a grindy caRPG that sacrifices specificity of environment, story, and characterization so as to guarantee that the car reigns supreme.
  49. Nov 7, 2017
    Need for Speed: Payback has a lot of competitions to complete and has everything you can expect from a game in the series. It is also heavily focused on grinding, because it's the only way to avoid the infamous microtransactions.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
This publication does not provide a score for their reviews.
This publication has not posted a final review score yet.
These unscored reviews do not factor into the Metascore calculation.
  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 »