PS4 Need for Speed Payback

Last updated date: July 25, 2019

DWYM Score
7.1

PS4 Need for Speed Payback

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Overall Take

In our analysis of 223 expert reviews, the PS4 PS4 Need for Speed Payback placed 8th when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note August 5, 2019:
Checkout The Best Car Racing Game for a detailed review of all the top car racing games.

Expert Summarized Score
6.2
20 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.9
1,560 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
The good news is that the game only requires a little tweaking of the in-game currency to fix its biggest issue. Yes, that is not great news right now, but it does mean Need for Speed Payback is easily fixed.
- CGM
November 6, 2017 | Full review
As a character, I did enjoy him for actually showing some emotion and being witty. Lina Navarro, the double-crossing boss, doesn’t come off as intimidating. The chemistry between the three main characters feels like an office environment. For as many risks and gambles that are taken in casinos, it seems these characters and the plot were played conservatively.
- Hardcore Gamer
November 6, 2017 | Full review
Need For Speed 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.
- COG Connected
November 11, 2017 | Full review
In Need for Speed: Payback you’ll acquire a list of cars as you progress through the game, mostly through purchasing new vehicles as they become available.
- Gaming Age
November 23, 2017 | Full review
It also makes for surprise moments, like cops interrupting you mid-race, which suits the theme and keeps each run feeling fresh. When they show up, the cops become mobile obstacles that will desperately try to shove you — and your competitors — off the road.
- Digital Trends
Payback’s major story-focused missions aren’t even particularly fun to play. All the big set-pieces you may have seen — the cars bursting out from inside semi trailers or dodging crashing helicopters — are completely canned.
- WCCF Tech
November 7, 2017 | Full review
And that’s a shame because Need for Speed Payback is a game with a brilliant story at its core. Silly, over the top and a little bit self-indulgent, but in a fantastic action movie way
- Games Radar
November 7, 2017 | Full review
The open world concept has become a little run of the mill. NFSP does a good job crafting a huge world to explore in your vehicles, and it also helps that you can do side missions based on speed as well as collect derelicts to build cars.
- Forbes
November 7, 2017 | Full review
Thankfully, the gameplay is fun enough that you can ignore the story almost completely. Payback retains the open-world design from many previous Need for Speed titles and as the story progresses, you’ll be driving around EA’s version of west coast United States to compete in various racing events in order to acquire cash, cars and cred.
- Impulse Gamer
November 27, 2017 | Full review
From a technical standpoint Payback is a solid game, though your initial load time whenever you start the game is painfully long.
- The Sixth Axis
July 2, 2020 | Full review
Take back the streets for the perfectly innocent illegal street racers you call friends
- Game Informer
November 14, 2017 | Full review
It’s a very good looking game, especially the licensed car models. The overworld is a pleasure to look at, but it does feel a bit sparsely populated.
- Game Crate
November 13, 2017 | Full review
In an effort to adopt the stylings of other popular, open-world racers, Need For Speed: Payback presents some fun ideas with poor execution.
- Shacknews
November 10, 2017 | Full review
It's an odd and interesting system; races have recommended car levels, and you boost your car's level by equipping these Speed Cards like gear in an RPG.
- US Gamer
November 7, 2017 | Full review
To be fair, it’s not all that terrible. Hunt down the derelicts, for example, and you can use one of these as the basis for a new vehicle and save yourself some precious dosh. What’s more, Payback occasionally hits you with free shipments as rewards, and when I realised this was happening, and where to open the loot crates, I instantly discovered a ton of cash.
- Trusted Reviews
November 7, 2017 | Full review
I genuinely believe that there’s a good game buried within the guts of Need for Speed: Payback. The driving feels great once you adjust it to how you play, and the plot could have been entertaining in a mindless way.
- We Got This Covered
Focusing on the actual road action, things do actually improve. After all, the core of recent Need For Speeds were perfectly fine, and when all the unnecessary extras and mechanical streamlining are left by the wayside, the pure and enjoyable arcade racing gets to shine.
- PSU
November 9, 2017 | Full review
Simple driving model produces occasional arcade thrills
- GameSpot
November 8, 2017 | Full review
Payback has to artificially entice players to wander off-road by hiding derelict parts—used to rebuild the game’s most customizable cars—in the most obscure corners of the map.
- Slant Magazine
November 17, 2017 | Full review
One new feature they implemented I found pretty fun and encouraged me to explore the world just a bit more was derelict vehicles.
- Digital Chumps
November 11, 2017 | Full review
What experts didn't like
Luckily the story is only one of three major flaws that I found with this game, and the second flaw does not affect the gameplay at all; however, it might be the most annoying.
- CGM
November 6, 2017 | Full review
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.
- COG Connected
November 11, 2017 | Full review
Sound annoying? It definitely is. And you can multiply the poor experience across multiple vehicle types as well. There are different car classes in the game, like Drift, Race, Off-Road, and more.
- Gaming Age
November 23, 2017 | Full review
More importantly, Payback forces too much story on you at certain points, and the narrative loses its luster in large doses.
- Digital Trends
Surprisingly, Payback’s standard road races are its most frustrating. The game’s open world is too cluttered and it’s not always clear which objects are destructible.
- WCCF Tech
November 7, 2017 | Full review
Drag questline hits a difficulty curve
- Games Radar
November 7, 2017 | Full review
Unfortunately, the blend between off-road and street racing doesn't always mesh well in the gameplay. It feels almost conflicting, which was a relatively common feeling throughout my experience with the game.
- Forbes
November 7, 2017 | Full review
It’s a head-scratchingly dumb story that makes very little sense, but ultimately it passably services as a framework for the gameplay.
- Impulse Gamer
November 27, 2017 | Full review
Cookie cutter characters and hackneyed dialogue
- The Sixth Axis
July 2, 2020 | Full review
This open world has plenty of racing content, but bad progression, technical problems, and throwaway storytelling make it hard to get invested
- Game Informer
November 14, 2017 | Full review
The story is forced on the player in Need For Speed Payback, and it doesn’t work at all. The narrative feels like a straight to television Fast and Furious sequel, with bland, generic characters and truly cliched dialogue.
- Game Crate
November 13, 2017 | Full review
Uninteresting Open-World
- Shacknews
November 10, 2017 | Full review
I honestly don't have a problem with the Speed Card system on the face of it. It works for the most part. The issue is the part hidden in the beginning two paragraphs ago: the Speed Cards are for individual cars.
- US Gamer
November 7, 2017 | Full review
Grinding and microtransactions aside, there still seems to be a lot of needless to-ing and fro-ing, just to buy cars, get parts, compete and even change cars.
- Trusted Reviews
November 7, 2017 | Full review
However, the good of the game is negated by the relentlessly frustrating upgrade system, tone-deaf plot and drab open-world.
- We Got This Covered
The takedowns on offer are remarkable in how unsatisfying they are, which is obviously disappointing given the theme is heists.
- PSU
November 9, 2017 | Full review
The problem is, outside of drift events where it's a non-factor, the sense of speed in Payback is startlingly lacking. The speedometer may say so, but there's no tangible sense that you're hurtling down the road at 160 miles per hour in a fuel-guzzling death trap.
- GameSpot
November 8, 2017 | Full review
The results are inconsistent and leaden, which are far from the ideal conditions for any kind of racing game.
- Slant Magazine
November 17, 2017 | Full review
It’s the frustrating systems that have been put in place that make upgrading/modifying your car(s), and ultimately how you have to play the game, an absolute chore.
- Digital Chumps
November 11, 2017 | Full review

From The Manufacturer

Need for Speed, one of the world’s bestselling video game franchises, returns with a vengeance in the new action-driving blockbuster Need for Speed Payback. Set in the underworld of Fortune Valley, you and your crew are reunited by a search for vengeance against The House, a nefarious cartel that rules the city’s casinos, criminals, and cops. In this corrupt gambler’s paradise, the stakes are high and The House always wins. Play a variety of challenges and events as Tyler, the Racer; Mac, the Showman; and Jess, the Wheelman. Each driver must take on races, missions, and challenges to earn the respect of the Valley’s underground and compete in the ultimate race to finally take down The House. Your car is at the center of everything you do. Craft unique rides with deeper performance and visual customization than ever before. Push them to the limit when you narrowly escape the heat in epic police chases. Go head-to-head with other racers on- or off-road through canyons, deserts, mountains, and the city. Raise the stakes by putting down additional in-game currency on events, challenges and missions to multiply your winnings, or risk losing it all. For ultimate bragging rights, connect via Autolog recommendations and compete with your friends and – for the first time – with potential rivals. Your leaderboard will populate with other players of similar skill level so you can see how you rank around the world. From insane heist missions to devastating car battles to jaw dropping set piece moments, Need for Speed Payback delivers an edge-of-your-seat, action-driving fantasy.

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