If you're a fan of racing games, then you're probably familiar with the Need for Speed series. Since its debut in 1994, the series has become a staple in the racing game genre, offering players a thrilling and immersive experience behind the wheel. With over 23 games released to date, it can be challenging to keep track of the entire series. That's why we've put together the complete Need for Speed games list in order.
In this article, we will give you a full list of the Need for Speed game series, starting from the very first game to the most recent release. We'll also include brief descriptions of each game, so you can easily pick and choose which games to play. So, buckle up, get ready to rev your engines, and join us on this high-speed journey through the history of the Need for Speed series.
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The Complete Need For Speed Games List In Order (1994-2023)
Racing games fans can find plenty of thrilling adventures in the Need for Speed series, with 23 titles spanning multiple platforms and decades. Here's a complete Need for Speed games list in order:
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23. The Need for Speed (1994)
Released in 1994, The Need for Speed was the groundbreaking title that initiated the long-standing racing game franchise. Developed by Electronic Arts and Distinctive Software, the game aimed to provide players with an immersive racing experience. Featuring a diverse range of vehicles and tracks, The Need for Speed allowed players to compete in various race modes such as time trials, head-to-head racing, and single-race mode.
Additionally, the game included a realistic driving model, which, at the time, was a novelty in the gaming industry. By blending captivating gameplay with high-quality graphics, the game effectively sets the standard for future racing games.
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22. Need for Speed II (1997)
In 1997, Electronic Arts took the franchise further with Need for Speed II. Building on the original's success, this sequel introduced a wider selection of exotic cars and unique tracks, as well as a new arcade racing mode that emphasized fun over realism. Need for Speed II showcased improved graphics and boasted advanced vehicle physics, resulting in a more engaging gaming experience.
The game also featured a new "showcase" mode, allowing players to learn about the history and specifications of each car. With these enhancements, Need for Speed II solidified its place among the best racing games of its time.
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21. Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (1998)
A year later, in 1998, Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit debuted and quickly gained recognition as one of the most thrilling entries in the series. Developed by EA Canada, the game expanded upon its predecessors by integrating a new gameplay element - police pursuits.
This innovation allowed players to experience high-speed chases as they either evaded or played the role of the pursuing police. Hot Pursuit also offered additional race modes, such as "Knockout" and "Tournament," increasing the game's replay value.
Likewise, Need for Speed III introduced an online multiplayer mode, enabling players to race against one another via the internet. This exhilarating blend of gameplay, improved graphics, and innovative features solidified Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit as a fan favorite and a significant milestone in the racing game genre.
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20. Need for Speed: High Stakes (1999)
In 1999, Need for Speed: High Stakes elevated the series to new heights with many enhancements and innovative features. Developed by EA Canada, this installment delivered a more immersive racing experience by incorporating a comprehensive career mode.
This allowed players not only to purchase and customize their vehicles but also to manage their finances, adding an extra layer of strategy to the game. Furthermore, High Stakes introduced the titular "High Stakes" mode, where players put their cars on the line in high-stakes, winner-takes-all races.
The police pursuit element from the previous game was retained and enhanced, providing even more adrenaline-pumping excitement. Enhanced vehicle damage modeling and improved graphics added to the realism, making Need for Speed: High Stakes a landmark installment in the franchise.
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19. Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed (2000)
Entering the new millennium, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed was released in 2000, offering a unique and authentic tribute to the renowned German automaker. Developed by EA Canada and Eden Studios, this installment in the series exclusively featured Porsche vehicles, spanning over 50 years of the company's history.
Porsche Unleashed set itself apart from other racing games by focusing on the brand's legacy while delivering an exhilarating racing experience. The game featured an engaging "Evolution Mode," which took players through a chronological journey, allowing them to witness the evolution of Porsche automobiles firsthand.
Additionally, the "Factory Driver Mode" presented players with a series of driving challenges, enabling them to earn a reputation as a skilled Porsche test driver. With refined graphics, intricate vehicle handling, and a faithful representation of the brand's history, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed successfully established itself as a standout title in the series.
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18. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 (2002)
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, released in 2002, revitalized the exhilarating police chase aspect of the franchise. Developed by EA Black Box and EA Seattle, the game was built upon the success of its predecessor, Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, which offered even more thrilling pursuits with police AI and tactics improvements.
With an expanded car roster, players could choose from various high-performance vehicles, each with its distinct handling and performance characteristics. Additionally, Hot Pursuit 2 featured various exotic locales with a mix of challenging and picturesque tracks.
This installment also introduced a point-based rewards system, which granted players access to additional cars and tracks based on their performance. The intense police chase, diverse car selection, and visually stunning tracks cemented Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 as a thrilling and memorable entry in the series.
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17. Need for Speed: Underground (2003)
Taking a bold step in a new direction, Need for Speed: Underground was launched in 2003, offering a fresh spin on the racing genre. Focusing on the street racing subculture, the game presented players with an urban nighttime setting filled with neon lights and fast-paced action.
Developed by EA Black Box, Underground placed a strong emphasis on vehicle customization, allowing players to modify their cars extensively, both visually and performance-wise. The game introduced new race modes, such as Drag Racing and Drifting, further diversifying the gameplay. Additionally, Need for Speed: Underground featured an engaging story mode, immersing players in the underground racing scene as they climbed the ranks to become the ultimate street racer.
The title's stylistic departure from its predecessors, coupled with its well-executed customization options and exhilarating racing modes, garnered praise from fans and critics alike, making Need for Speed: Underground a standout entry in the franchise.
16. Need for Speed: Underground 2 (2004)
Expanding on the successful formula established by its predecessor, Need for Speed: Underground 2 arrived in 2004, providing players with an even more immersive street racing experience. Developed by EA Black Box, this sequel featured a vast open-world environment, allowing players to explore the intricately designed city of Bayview at their leisure. The vehicle customization options were enhanced, emphasizing performance tuning and various visual modifications.
Additionally, the game introduced the concept of sponsored races, where players could earn extra cash and unlock unique customization parts. By incorporating dynamic weather conditions, day-night cycles, and a diverse soundtrack, Underground 2 created a vibrant atmosphere that drew players into its immersive world.
15. Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005)
In 2005, Need for Speed: Most Wanted to take the series in another exciting direction by reintroducing police chases and blending them seamlessly with the underground racing culture. Developed by EA Black Box, the game featured a gripping storyline focused on the player's pursuit of the city's most notorious street racer while evading the relentless police force.
The gameplay in Most Wanted was further enriched with innovative features, such as the "Fairhaven" system, which allowed players to interact dynamically with their environment during chases. This installment also marked the return of various race modes, including circuit, sprint, drag, and speed trap races.
With its intense police pursuits, diverse race modes, and engaging narrative, Need for Speed: Most Wanted quickly became a fan favorite and a critically acclaimed entry in the long-running franchise.
14. Need for Speed: Carbon (2006)
Need for Speed: Carbon, released in 2006, continued the street racing trend while introducing new gameplay elements to the series. Developed by EA Black Box, this installment presented players with a riveting story set in the fictional city of Palmont.
Carbon shifted focus towards territory-based gameplay, where players competed to control various neighborhoods by winning races and challenging rival crews. Unique to this game was the inclusion of different crew member types, such as scouts, drafters, and blockers, each providing strategic benefits during races.
Moreover, Carbon introduced Autosculpt, an innovative customization feature that allowed players to modify their car's appearance and performance even further. The game's memorable soundtrack and distinct nighttime visuals contributed to its distinctive atmosphere, solidifying Need for Speed: Carbon as an enthralling entry in the series.
13. Need for Speed: ProStreet (2007)
Arriving in 2007, Need for Speed: ProStreet departed from the illegal street racing motif, placing players in the world of professional racing events. Developed by EA Black Box, this installment emphasized realism and simulation-style gameplay, requiring players to strategize and adapt to varying track conditions.
ProStreet showcased an array of race modes, including grip races, drag races, speed challenges, and drift challenges, offering diverse gameplay experiences for racing enthusiasts. A major aspect of the game was the intricate vehicle damage system, which accurately reflected the consequences of reckless driving on car performance and appearance.
Additionally, ProStreet's in-depth customization options allowed players to fine-tune their vehicles to suit their racing preferences. By adopting a professional racing approach, Need for Speed: ProStreet provided a fresh perspective on the racing genre while maintaining the core elements that made the franchise popular.
12. Need for Speed: Undercover (2008)
Undercover, launched in 2008, returned to the series' roots with its focus on illegal street racing and intense police chases. Developed by EA Black Box, the game followed a gripping storyline in which players assumed the role of an undercover police officer infiltrating the criminal underground.
Set in the open-world environment of Tri-City, players were tasked with taking down a corrupt organization while navigating various race events and pursuits. Undercover introduced the "Heroic Driving Engine," which enabled players to perform stylish and daring driving maneuvers. The game also boasted various licensed cars and extensive customization options, further enriching the player experience.
With its cinematic story, engaging gameplay, and familiar underground racing atmosphere, Need for Speed: Undercover offered a thrilling adventure for long-time fans and newcomers alike.
11. Need for Speed: Shift (2009)
In 2009, Need for Speed: Shift steered the series towards a simulation-oriented racing experience. Developed by Slightly Mad Studios in collaboration with EA Black Box, Shift emphasized realism and accuracy in vehicle handling and physics. The game introduced a first-person cockpit view, giving players a truly immersive racing experience.
To ensure authenticity, real-world racing driver and Top Gear, presenter Chris Harris consulted on the development process. Shift offered an extensive roster of cars, ranging from everyday sports cars to high-performance supercars, and allowed players to participate in various racing events on real-life tracks worldwide.
The game also featured a comprehensive driver profile system, which rewarded players based on their driving style and accomplishments. By focusing on a realistic racing experience and attention to detail, Need for Speed: Shift carved out its own niche within the series, appealing to fans of simulation racing games.
10. Need for Speed: Nitro (2009)
Need for Speed: Nitro, released in 2009, was specifically designed for the Nintendo Wii and DS platforms, bringing a fresh arcade-style experience to the franchise. Developed by EA Montreal, Nitro aimed to provide a more accessible and lighthearted racing experience for a broader audience.
The game's vibrant visuals, exaggerated car designs, and simplified controls helped create an engaging atmosphere perfect for casual gaming sessions. Nitro introduced a unique tagging system that allowed players to leave their mark on the city as they won races.
The game had a wide range of licensed cars, which were also quite diverse and could be customized with various paint jobs, decals, and body kits. Need for Speed: Nitro successfully brought a fun and energetic racing experience to the Wii and DS platforms, providing an enjoyable experience for players of all ages.
9. Need for Speed: World (2010)
In 2010, Need for Speed: World took the franchise into the realm of massively multiplayer online racing games. Developed by EA Black Box and EA Singapore, World allowed players to connect and compete with others from around the globe in the expansive open-world environment of Rockport and Palmont, cities featured in previous Need for Speed titles.
The game offered a wide variety of race events, as well as police pursuits, which players could engage in cooperatively or competitively. With a diverse range of licensed cars and extensive customization options, players were given the opportunity to create their own unique driving experience.
While Need for Speed: World was initially launched as a free-to-play game with microtransactions, it was ultimately shut down in 2015. However, during its active years, World successfully brought together racing fans from all over the world and offered a fresh take on the franchise's online multiplayer experience.
8. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010)
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, released in 2010, revitalized the classic police chase gameplay that defined earlier entries in the series. Developed by Criterion Games, renowned for their work on the Burnout series, Hot Pursuit delivered an adrenaline-fueled racing experience set in the stunning open-world environment of Seacrest County.
The game allowed players to step into the roles of racers and police officers, each equipped with a unique arsenal of gadgets and abilities to outsmart their opponents. The groundbreaking "Autolog" feature was introduced in this installment, allowing players to compare their race times and accomplishments with friends, creating a constant sense of competition.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit received widespread critical acclaim for its intense high-speed chases, expansive world, and innovative social features, solidifying its status as a standout title in the series.
7. Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed (2011)
Following the success of its predecessor, Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed arrived in 2011, taking the simulation racing experience to new heights. Developed by Slightly Mad Studios, Shift 2 Unleashed continued to emphasize realism and immersion, delivering a visceral racing experience that put players in the driver's seat.
Building on the authentic handling and physics from the first Shift, this installment introduced several new features, such as night racing and helmet camera view, further enhancing the sensation of being behind the wheel. The game boasted a diverse roster of cars and racing events, including the prestigious FIA GT1 World Championship and GT3 European Championship.
Shift 2 Unleashed also expanded upon the Autolog system, allowing players to connect and compete with friends more seamlessly. With its focus on authenticity and innovative features, Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed pushed the boundaries of simulation racing within the franchise.
6. Need for Speed: The Run (2011)
Need for Speed: The Run is a racing video game developed by EA Black Box and published by Electronic Arts. The game was released in 2011 and received mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. The game follows the story of a street racer named Jack who participates in a coast-to-coast race, starting in San Francisco and ending in New York City. Along the way, Jack must race against other drivers, outrun the police, and avoid danger on the open road.
The game has a wide selection of cars, including both muscle and exotic sports cars. Players can personalize and improve their vehicles. Additionally, there is a multiplayer mode where players can compete online.
5. Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)
Need for Speed: Most Wanted is another popular racing game developed by Criterion Games and published by Electronic Arts. The game was released in 2012 and was well-received by critics and fans. The game features an open-world environment where players can explore the city and participate in various races and challenges.
The game's main objective is to become the most wanted street racer in the city by outrunning the police and defeating rival racers. The game features various cars, ranging from sports cars to high-performance supercars, and allows players to customize their vehicles with various upgrades and modifications.
The game's multiplayer mode allows players to race against each other online, and the game also features a social leaderboard where players can compare their scores and achievements with friends.
4. Need for Speed Rivals (2013)
Released in 2013, Need for Speed Rivals is an arcade-style racing game developed by Ghost Games and published by Electronic Arts. The game is set in a fictional open world called Redview County, where players can participate in illegal street races or take on the role of a police officer to chase down and apprehend racers.
The game features a unique AllDrive system that seamlessly integrates single-player and multiplayer modes, allowing players to join races or chases anytime. It also introduces the new "SpeedPoints" currency, which is earned by completing events and can be used to purchase cars, upgrades, and other items.
In addition to the standard racing and police chase modes, Need for Speed Rivals also includes a new mode called "Pursuit Tech," which allows players to use various gadgets and weapons to outsmart their opponents or catch them as a cop.
The game features a wide variety of cars from different manufacturers, including Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche, each with its exceptional handling and performance characteristics. Overall, Need for Speed Rivals is an exciting and action-packed racing game that offers a lot of replay value and fun for both casual and hardcore gamers.
3. Need for Speed (2015)
The 2015 reboot of Need for Speed, developed by Ghost Games and published by Electronic Arts, is a semi-open-world racing game that puts a strong emphasis on underground street racing culture. The game features five neighborhoods, each with its own distinct style and events, such as drifting, time trials, and drag races.
It also includes a story mode that follows the player's journey to becoming a respected racer in the city's underground scene, complete with live-action cutscenes and voice acting.
Need for Speed (2015) introduces several new features, such as the ability to customize cars to a high degree, including visual upgrades and performance tuning. The game also features an online component, allowing players to race against each other or form crews to compete in events together.
The graphics and sound design are top-notch, creating an immersive and engaging experience for the player. Overall, Need for Speed (2015) is an excellent series reboot, offering a fresh take on the classic racing game formula.
2. Need for Speed: Payback (2017)
Released in 2017, Need for Speed: Payback is an open-world racing game developed by Ghost Games and published by Electronic Arts. The game features a story mode that follows three characters, Tyler, Mac, and Jess, as they try to take down "The House," a criminal organization that controls the city's casinos, underground racing scene, and other illegal activities. The game's plot is delivered through cutscenes and voice acting, creating a cinematic experience for the player.
Need for Speed: Payback features various cars, including muscle cars, exotic sports cars, and off-road vehicles; the game offers multiple vehicles, each with excellent handling and performance features. Additionally, there is a large open-world environment present in the game that consists of deserts, cities, and mountains, providing a varied range of racing tracks.
The game's racing mechanics are similar to its predecessors, but with the addition of a new "scrap" system, where players can collect and use scrap to purchase parts and upgrade their cars.
1. Need for Speed: Heat (2019)
Released in 2019, Need for Speed: Heat is an open-world racing game developed by Ghost Games and published by Electronic Arts. The game is set in Palm City, a fictional open world inspired by Miami, and features a day-and-night cycle that affects the gameplay. During the day, players participate in sanctioned races.
During the day, players participate in sanctioned races and earn cash to upgrade and customize their cars. However, at night, the game takes a darker turn, with illegal street racing and high-speed police chases. The game features a new reputation system, where players earn reputation points by completing events and taking risks at night but can lose them if they get caught by the police.
Need for Speed: Heat also introduces a new character customization system, allowing players to customize their avatar's appearance and outfit. The game includes a diverse selection of vintage and contemporary sports cars, all with exceptional handling and performance capabilities.
The game also includes a new feature called "Heat Level," which represents the player's notoriety with the police and increases as they commit more crimes. This, in turn, affects the level of police response and the difficulty of their pursuit.
The Need for Speed franchise has been an essential part of the racing game genre for over two decades. The 23 games that we have listed in this article, in order, showcase the evolution of the series from its early beginnings to its current state.
Each game has its own outstanding markers, including different cars, settings, and customization options, providing a wide range of experiences for players, whether you prefer the classic gameplay of the early games or the more advanced graphics and gameplay mechanics of the newer titles.
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