Metacritic Xbox One - 66/100
Gamespot - 5/10
IGN - 5.9/10
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.
GamesRadar - 3.5/5
Need for Speed Payback is a big, competent, and confident arcade racer but itís 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.
Hardcore Gamer - 4/5
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.
USGamer - 3/5
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 itís 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.
EGM - 4/10
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.
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 thatís like saying at least the car wreck didnít cause a fire, too.
Need for Speed returns in this, a grossly unremarkable open world racer that marks another step back for the series.
Press Start AU - 6/10
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. Thereís 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 thereís no reason to hang around and find it.
PCWorld - 2/5
Despite Need for Speed Paybackís accessible and gratifying approach to arcade racing, the time needed to progress in a satisfactory manner regresses the joy of the rubber meeting the road to a grind that ironically brings the pace of the game to a grinding halt. Need for Speed Payback totes itself as a romp of reckless abandon but ultimately lacks the longevity, charisma and conviction necessary to make it a ride worth taking.
Shacknews - 6/10
Payback is not fun. If this were 2015ís Need for Speed systems layered over the exact same story, this game gets a 3.5/5 rating, maybe even a 4 if I were feeling generous. Driving around the open-world is mindless fun. The story is sometimes bad-bad but more often falls into so-bad-itís-great territory. And hey, the competitionís light this yearóthereís no Forza Horizon to even compare against in 2017.
But Payback is the worst loot box implementation Iíve seen in a full-price game. So many decisions here seem made just to squeeze consumers for more money, and in the most obnoxious, tonally-inconsistent way possible.
Metro - 3/10
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. Payback could have solidified the NFS franchiseís spot in the market with the new heist missions and stood out from open-world racers with cop pursuit but, instead, gave us bright moments set in a bland world with technical shortcomings.
Destructoid - 3/10
But if you do make the mistake of buying Need For Speed Payback, or get it as an unwanted present, then just do what the name suggests and get a refund as quickly as possible.
The concept and goal for Need for Payback Payback sounds simple enough on paper: Create an open-world arcade racing game with a heavy emphasis on action-packed set pieces, taking cues and inspiration from the Fast & Furious films -- specifically the ones with a certain "electrifying" individual. However, due to a mixed bag of awful business decisions, an uninteresting story with some of the worst dialogue I've heard in recent memory, thrown in with a dull open world, we now have a new low point for this 23 year old franchise.
Polygon - 6.5/10
Need for Speed: Payback is a fruitless, grind-y, hard-to-control drive through a terrible story. Skip it.
Jesse Wellens - "It's a great game."
Need For Speed Payback doesnít do many favors for itself. Itís 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. Coupled with a desert city and countryside that feels lifeless despite being packed with racing challenges and collectibles, itís the equivalent of a bland paint job surrounding a high performance engine block. Considering how little I customized my cars in Need For Speed Payback, much less wanted to, thatís the best epitaph I can give it.