Date: September 27, 2021
The last few Milestone racing games have drawn some criticism from fans, who’ve been disappointed with how much content has been saved for DLCs. At first glance, Hot Wheels Unleashed didn’t seem much different in that regard — but before pushing it away just because of the scary words “Paid DLCs,” it’s worth looking in on and talking about the amount of content already included content in Hot Wheels Unleashed.
With most racing games, gamers hope to breeze through the tutorial and get into the real races ASAP, which isn’t always possible. In Hot Wheels Unleashed, after a quick tutorial that teaches just enough to prepare you for the main mechanics of the game, you’re thrown onto the track to start earning new upgrades and vehicles.
While we’ll talk about the price tag and future updates and DLC volume packages later, for now I’ll just say I was able to find enough content here to justify its price tag. The game includes 66 unique vehicles at launch, including a mix of new vehicles and some of the old Hot Wheels we all know and love.
Getting into the main features of Hot Wheels Unleashed, you can Collect and Customize vehicles, Race, and Build tracks. Additionally, you can cutomize your Basement to your liking, changing the decor to match your personal style. I found the campaign against the bots enjoyable; all the different vehicles and environments that you’re able to play in through your journey kept things interesting, and unlocking new vehicles and new track pieces for the game’s track-building mode was satisfying.
With the game launching with 66 different vehicles and a few secret vehicles featuring brands we all know and love (Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Back to the Future) Hot Wheels Unleashed has enough vehicles to keep you racing. Yet gamers always have an itch for more content to be added, even if that comes at a price:
While the different types of packages and DLC content that comes with almost any games release nowadays may not be for everyone, it comes down to how the game functions without having to buy that content. After looking through the type of content one gets with each of the packs and volumes that the game will have, I found the main build of the game was enough for me to have fun. There are still plenty of vehicles to unlock and lots of ways to customize them, even without breaking the bank.
Hot Wheels has always been a collecting hobby, and that is how I view these different editions and DLCs. If the DLC cars end up being objectively superior, then cries of Pay-2-Win are more than fair. However, it seems like they’re just for collecting more vehicles to have on your virtual shelf to race and customize as you see fit.
The customization elements of Hot Wheels Unleashed are pretty straightforward, but there’s enough there to mess with over time, especially once more players upload their vehicles’ liveries to the community. With a fun-to-use livery editor for the vehicles you have unlocked, you’re able to mess around with decals and different color patterns for every part of your vehicle to suit your tastes. Additionally, once you have a vehicle unlocked, you’re able to go to the community livery section for that vehicle and see what types of creations others have made. These are easily downloaded and applied to your vehicle for future races.
The main racing content in Hot Wheels Unleashed revolves around six different environments that will have you speeding and jumping corners with different tracks, in either the Hot Wheels City Rumble mode levels or on community-made tracks. Each race consists of twelve racers, and includes sharp turns that every racer will need to consider when it comes to the game’s drifting mechanic. Along with the track boosters that each vehicle can utilize, one will need to think about the turns coming up ahead, and the track’s gravity setting when going upside down.
I’m a huge fan of Dirt and Forza’s racing series, in particular how drifting is something the gamer behind the wheel will need to master in order to succeed. Hot Wheels Unleashed has a similar requirement, and I had a fantastic time learning the timing of the drifting. You can tell that a lot of thought was put into how drifting functions, and the gravity when going upside down on the tracks has received equally close attention.
While I didn’t spend much time in the track-building space, I’ve always enjoyed seeing what the community of Trackmania and other Milestone game releases comes up with. If you want to create tracks, you’ll be able to unlock different track pieces to use in the editor either while winning online races and going through the Hot Wheels City Rumble campaign.
There are about 20 pieces in total, with more to come in future updates. In addition to regular track pieces that you can twist and bend to your liking, you can also add elements like big monsters and objects to the course, forcing racers to pay attention to more than just the corners. Being able to progress through the game to unlock these different types of track pieces is a lot of work, but knowing the Milestone community, I bet people will be able to create some fantastic maps fairly quickly.
Learning all of the knowledge on the college track
Hot Wheels Unleashed will have basic controller and keyboard support at launch; I reached out to Milestone and was told that they currently have no plans for adding wheel support. Here’s hoping we see an update that adds cross-platform multiplayer, as it will make Hot Wheels Unleashed stand out more.
Breaking it down, Hot Wheels Unleashed is an excellent 2021 release for the racing community. While the already announced DLC packages may have turned some away, I don’t see having a few extra vehicles locked behind a paywall making a big impact on the game when it comes to how everyone plays the game. As long as you master the drifting and booster timing, you can go into races with your starting vehicle and win with pure skill.