Mixed or average reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 32
  2. Negative: 6 out of 32
Buy On
  1. Nov 23, 2017
    It’s safe to say that Need For Speed Payback is a return to the glory days for the series, able to mentioned in the same breath as Underground or Most Wanted.
  2. Nov 7, 2017
    Need for Speed comes back stronger than ever with an open-world game that has a great story mode and gameplay mechanics adapted to every player.
  3. Dec 16, 2017
    The gameplay is tight, responsive and surprisingly accessible whilst remaining challenging throughout. The story may well indeed be basic in its delivery, but the plot does prove to be energetic and exhilarating nevertheless, however it is sadly held back slightly by a poorly voiced cast of forgettable characters.
  4. Nov 8, 2017
    The Need For Speed formula seems to be a little worn out, but Payback tries to get all the good stuff from the franchise plus some new additions to renew it, even if it doesn't get to be the best game in the series.
  5. Nov 7, 2017
    Need For Speed Payback represents EA’s answer to where most racers are headed -– massive worlds, large car lists, extensive customisation options and plenty of things to do.
  6. Nov 7, 2017
    Need for Speed: Payback is a great fun open world with a story campaign that works well. Racing is exciting and all of the car modifications are interesting, besides lacking from its technical side.
  7. Nov 7, 2017
    Need for Speed ​​Payback is a good arcade game that moves the action and speed of Hollywood movies to the videogame, adding to challenge of urban bands and five clearly differentiated driving styles with totally customizable cars and a small open world. Enjoys very good ideas and gives us a well-rounded game, but it lacks a bit of genius to make it essential.
  8. Nov 7, 2017
    Need For Speed: Payback may not do anything new, but it brings together elements of Forza Horizon and Burnout Paradise to create a fun and explosive racer.
  9. Nov 14, 2017
    A solid arcade racer with some very nice environments, but it feels a bit too weak in the technical department and with a too marked rubber-banding effect during the races.
  10. Nov 7, 2017
    With some excellent improvements to car control, customization, and cinematic moments, Need for Speed Payback delivers on the promise of a better racing game. That said, it occasionally has a few engine knocks with chunky dialogue and invisible walls barring your path in the vast open world they’ve created. It’s a good step for the series, and it should provide a good foundation for Ghost’s next time behind the wheel.
  11. Nov 13, 2017
    And it really doesn't need microtransactions. No, it's not pay to win, you don't have to even think about touching them. But that EA even included them turns me off a little. There are very real things to fix with this franchise, and asking people for more money inside the game isn't how you do it.
  12. Nov 7, 2017
    A step back that betrays the good gameplay of the series and the excellent achievements of the 2015 reboot.
  13. Nov 13, 2017
    Need For Speed : Payback is a game that everyone hoped might put the series back into the limelight of seat-of-the-pants racing. Instead, the game has middle-of-the-pack graphics, weak storyline, emotionless driving and a poor upgrade system. This game is definitely a car in full-throttle reverse instead of speeding off in the right direction.
  14. Nov 11, 2017
    Need For Speed Payback doesn’t do many favors for itself. It’s a fun racing game whose flashy story would be fine if I felt like I was building a blinged-out career worthy of it. Instead, I felt driven toward pure stats upgrades, heedless of what the car was or what it looked like.
  15. Nov 10, 2017
    For me this Need for Speed is the equivalent to a Honda Civic or Toyota Prius: You can take it out on the road, but there are so many better cars out there. While borrowing heavily form the Fast and Furious franchise as well as from games like Forza Horizon, Burnout Paradise and The Crew it misses to establish its own identity.
  16. Nov 10, 2017
    There’s plenty of good to be found, but Payback doesn’t seem all that interested in rewarding and promoting that side of the game. And in the end, delivers open-world racing that confuses and confounds moments after it surprises and delights.
  17. Nov 7, 2017
    Need for Speed ​​does not take advantage of the two-year break to present a game that represents a clear step forward for the series, staying as a simple driving arcade game that does more things wrong than good.
  18. Nov 28, 2017
    Whilst there are moments when the arcade racing feels like fun, there is an omnipresent sense of Déjà Vu, that you've played this all before. NFS Payback doesn't bring anything original to the genre and if you've already finished with those other racing titles, you're unlikely to find anything new here. It feels like the game is following other racing games and has somehow lost its own identity in the process. It's not a bad title, but it also fails to distinguish itself. It feels like an option and an alternative; it no longer feels like a must-have title not even for arcade racers. However, the main issue is the progression system that relies more on luck than skill, and judgement that almost seems to debilitate the player's advancement. Despite the previous reboot and this latest title, Payback already feels aged and needs a dramatic rethink if it is to reclaim its crown from the likes of Forza Horizon.
  19. Nov 16, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback is at its best when you’re completing story missions, speeding through thrilling set-pieces and battling against cops and criminals. It’s even highly entertaining when you’re just belting around its open world, completing activities and engaging in events. But when you hit that brick wall and have to put a halt to your fun for hours at a time in order to raise your car’s performance level, your patience will be tested, and many will decide to simply not bother at all.
  20. Nov 13, 2017
    Need for Speed: Payback is a fun romp, but the micrtransactions are a bit on the invasive side.
  21. Nov 13, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback is a game with some good ideas and more than a few bad ways of executing them. The story gives you a good basis for a non-traditional racing game, and aping Forza Horizon isn't a bad way to go about it. The handling is purely arcade in style and fun to play, and the environments can give you some pretty good racing areas. However, even if you discount how bad the story plays out, you'll hate the fact that you'll never get to play the more exciting segments. Worse, the promotion of grinding makes the game drag on far longer than it should, making you want to put it away without even finishing the campaign, let alone try the multiplayer. It isn't the worst racer on the platform by any means, but it's certainly not worthy of the full asking price.
  22. Nov 7, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback is a big, competent, and confident arcade racer but it’s really let down by its linear cop chases, its overwrought and insidious upgrade system, its dreadful dialogue, and its superficial action sequences. It feels fine and it looks flashy, but Payback really went all-in on its direct-to-DVD revenge tale and it was a bust for me.
  23. Nov 17, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback squanders its open world on races against rubberbanding AI, linear escapes from a timer instead of the cops, and a broken economy that will leave you grinding for far too long. Throw in a bland story and unlikable characters, and you've got a franchise on a serious downward trend.
  24. Nov 15, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback is a victim of both progression issues and design choice. The driving and actual gameplay is still fun and well done. There’s actually a very good open world racing game in here, it’s just bogged down by level progression and needless grinding that is only there to extend the gameplay time and to get people to spend real money to potentially get upgrades for the cars. I enjoyed some aspects of Payback, but ultimately, I found myself overburdened with grinding, that I kept saying to myself I really don’t feel like doing this. After it’s all said and done, I would wait for a price drop at the very least before picking this one up.
  25. 50
    Need for Speed Payback is another miss for the franchise. The racing feels good, the presentation is great, but everything surrounding it is absolutely abhorrent.
  26. Nov 6, 2017
    Despite its impressive visuals and contemporary trappings, Payback's pick-up-and-play driving model harkens back to Need for Speed Underground and its Fast and the Furious-inspired street racing. Yet, unlike the series' heyday, Payback's arcade sensibilities aren't enough to save the game surrounding it from wallowing in mundanity.
  27. Nov 26, 2017
    The perfect example of one step forward, two steps back. While the world is more beautiful than any of its predecessors, it feels empty in much the same way that the game does. All of the systems seem to be their own worst enemy.
  28. CD-Action
    Feb 8, 2018
    For me Need for Speed is dead and buried as a franchise. Yes, Payback offers a large and varied open world and 70 licensed cars, but the driving model is decent at best, microtransactions system resembles free-to-play games, randomized upgrades force you to grind and the story (along with the dialogues) is simply embarrassing. [01/2018, p.44]
  29. Official Xbox Magazine UK
    Jan 5, 2018
    Turns out that fighting the machine has rarely been this dull. [Jan 2018, p.78]
  30. Edge Magazine
    Dec 10, 2017
    Were it not for the driving model, which against all odds remains a pleasure, and desperately rare moments of imaginative mission design, this would be an abject failure. As it stands, it's simply a serious one. [Issue#314, p.114]
  31. Dec 8, 2017
    While it may not do anything groundbreaking, there’s a decent game buried somewhere in Need for Speed Payback. It’s hard to deny the fun that still comes from sliding through mountain switchbacks or launching through the air like a rocket. However, the promise of pulling off epic heists falls flat, and Payback is crippled by its progression system. A car’s performance shouldn’t be determined by a slot machine, and a racing game shouldn’t force you to wait out in the parking lot.
  32. Nov 7, 2017
    Need for Speed Payback might be a new low point for the franchise. A horrendous progression system compounded by uninteresting characters and terrible AI only illustrates how far behind this series has fallen compared to the other arcade racers out there. The multiplayer is solid, but that’s like saying at least the car wreck didn’t cause a fire, too.
User Score

Generally unfavorable reviews- based on 243 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 76 out of 243
  1. Jan 2, 2018
    The Need for Speed series has been up and down over the last few years and this has definitely put a few people off. I’ve always liked theThe Need for Speed series has been up and down over the last few years and this has definitely put a few people off. I’ve always liked the Need for Speed series but there has been too many problems in the last few game’s, which in turn harmed the overall package. The problems are still evident in this instalment, but most of the core ideas have paid off and in the end Need for Speed Payback was pretty enjoyable. The racing in the game feels better than ever and I was very impressed by how fluid and responsive it remained throughout. I was also impressed with the story in the game, and whilst it may not be everybody’s cup a tea I found it to be quite engaging. There is a great deal of variety in Need for Speed Payback and that’s evident when it comes to the different driving styles and races. I must admit though that the game did frustrate me quite a few times and that was mainly down to the AI and the high difficulty curve the cheating AI brought with it. If you like customisation then this game has plenty for you to sink your teeth into. There is one problem with this though and that’s the micro-transactions that are present in the game, and unfortunately if you’re not prepared to pay for certain items then you will spend a lot of time grinding to get them. The presentation side of the game is pretty good, but I can’t help feeling that it could have been a little better. Visually the game can look stunning at times, but unfortunately the sound design is not as good and is lacking in certain areas. At the end of the day fans of the Need for Speed series will definitely enjoy what’s on offer here, but I don’t think this new addition will bring many new fans to the table. Don’t get me wrong it gets a lot of things right and it can be very fun at times, but the added micro-transactions and little niggling problems here and there will make some people stay away, which is a shame because the core ideas are well done and these ideas just do enough for me to recommend the game to you. Full Review »
  2. Nov 9, 2017
    Two years in the making!: yup, it's taken two years to develop the most boring NFS yet. Not only that, but where all other franchise keepTwo years in the making!: yup, it's taken two years to develop the most boring NFS yet. Not only that, but where all other franchise keep going forward, NFS is still stuck in reverse. It's like they learned nothing from the 2015 attempt except, there is far more daylight and a lot less rain [infact, I dont think i've seen rain yet]

    They replaced the duff-actors of the past with animated stereotypical characters with the most cringeworthy dialogue you ever heard in any form of entertainment and a storyline that's permanently stuck in first gear [I say that because when there is any sight of any excitement, the game takes over and you can only watch; you have no input]

    Gameplay is very routine and repetitive, almost boring; collectibles are there but pointed out to you so not hard to find those; we have the usual speed traps/zones, drift zones and jumps, nothing new there then. We do however have 'derelicts' cars to find parts for and build .. so there ya go something new .. to NFS .. but hardly new. Currency is hard to come by, you need to grind over races you already did to make the money for parts to upgrade your cars .. you do get awarded an upgrade card after a race win, it's a random card so again luck is involved; you can gamble some of your 'tokens' in a fruit-machine style app for more parts or you can simply buy them with real cash [not forgetting you already spent 60/80 or whatever of your local currency to buy the game in the first place.]

    I say now; it may get better but I have abandoned the game after about 12 hours play; so checkout other reviews.

    It's most annoying because again, the NFS developers have turned a potential masterpiece into an actual turkey by their game-play choices; they have again delivered 'average' and not 'awesome' and frankly 'average' doesn't cut-it these days.

    A few key words on the actual racing; messy .. erratic .. rubberbanded .. clunky .. random.

    In a nutshell, 2 years in the making for a second-rate attempt at including something for everyone … well almost, because horror of all horrors, you can't free-roam in multiplayer, you cant hang out with your mate, do car-shows, take nice group photos, form a drift train … bait a cop? .. nope, no cops in multiplayer.

    I will give a mark of 4 for the fact this time there is daylight.
    Full Review »
  3. Nov 7, 2017
    Nuevamente quieren obligar al jugador a pagar para poder avanzar rápido y ganar el juego con micropagos. Este juego no lo recomiendo. No seNuevamente quieren obligar al jugador a pagar para poder avanzar rápido y ganar el juego con micropagos. Este juego no lo recomiendo. No se puede disfrutar mucho ya que se tiene que repetir lo mismo hasta el cansancio para acumular puntos para poder avanzar, aunque sea la desarrolladora hubiera puesto más carreras distintas para compensar, pero no, debes pagar. La EA busca que su mercado sea ya no el de vender juego, sino la de micropagos que posteriormente debes pagar después de comprar el juego. O sea que al final pagas mucho más en total de lo que esperabas.

    In English
    Again they want to force the player to pay to be able to advance fast and win the game with micropayments. This game I do not recommend. You can not enjoy much because you have to repeat the same thing until you get tired to accumulate points to move forward, even if the developer would have put more different races to compensate, but no, you must pay. The EA seeks that its market is no longer that of selling games, but that of micropayments that you must later pay after buying the game. So in the end you pay much more in total than you expected.
    Full Review »