Ever since the initial announcement, there’s been a decent bit of hype surrounding the Hot Wheels Unleashed brand. Having delivered arcade racing to the masses with the first game, the Milestone team are back with launch of Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged.
We grabbed Andrea Basilio, the head of design at Milestone in hope of finding out more about the game.
Please could you introduce yourself. What is your role at Milestone and how have you worked on Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged?
Hello, I’m Andrea Basilio Head of Game Design & Associate Creative Director here at Milestone. My role is overlooking the game design and major creative aspects of all our projects in collaboration with the Creative Director, the game’s Lead Designer, and the Game Director. I have followed the initial design phases of the new Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged features, with a particular focus on the new narrative and gameplay innovations.
So sell it to us – why should gamers be looking to get behind the wheel of Hot Wheels Unleashed 2?
The new game expands and improves all the aspects that our gamers loved from the first chapter, adding exciting new content and a new layer of gameplay, giving more freedom in how to approach the game, especially thanks to the new actions Jump and Lateral Dash.
And what exactly is so ‘Turbocharged’ about this latest edition?
This is a very tricky question, we chose this name because the whole game is more “powerful” and full of energy compared to the previous chapter. We have more vehicles – now not only cars but also bikes and ATVs – more interesting places, a new narrative career, and new exciting game modes both offline and online.
Visually this is most definitely ‘Hot Wheels’. But how tricky has it been to be able to ensure the love of a physical toy works in the virtual world?
One of the pillars since the very beginning of the design of the first Hot Wheels Unleashed was trying to recreate the toy feeling. We started recreating the cars as close to the real ones as possible using 3D production models from Mattel and 3D scans; regarding the tracks, we have studied all the special modules from the Mattel toys (like the shark, the dragon, etc.) and we converted in something that looks like the toy but is fun to face in a videogame.
As the last step, we asked ourselves how to create the gameplay for a toy world, and the answer was to start on a “realistic” and “material” physic and work from there; this approach gave the game a unique and “right” feel like if you are playing with toy cars.
Could you tell us more about the vehicles included in Unleashed 2? How does the roster stack up against those included in the first game? Have you had to leave certain cars out of the game for any reason?
The fan-favorite cars from the first chapter are still in the game, but the final selection is focused on what our community asked for in the past two years and includes the classic originals and a good number of real licensed Hot Wheels vehicles. But most importantly one of the biggest differences between the two games is the roster: in the new chapter we do not have just cars but also other vehicles like ATVs, bikes, and Monster Trucks, in order to offer players a very different gameplay experience.
You’ve added in the opportunity to ‘jump’ and ‘dash’ whilst the racing is going on. How did the idea to include these moves come about?
Honestly, when we started thinking about the new game these new actions were thought to change something in the gameplay. We were in a moment in which Hot Wheels Unleashed was released and lots of people were enthusiastic about it; we started to see people online doing crazy stuff in the game, for instance literally flinging using the boost.
At that point we understood that giving more “tools” in the gameplay could be a nice idea, we prototyped it, and were like: cool this is changing a lot the gameplay but at the same time keep the spirit of Unleashed, let’s do it!
The campaign comes complete with a story behind it, focusing on a world that is under attack from a variety of creatures. We don’t often see narratives pushing driving games along so how did this tale come together and get included in a game that is primarily a racer?
The game is still a pure racing game which is the most important thing, but for the campaign, we definitely wanted to add something that can entertain and engage players. We started thinking about the narrative during the development of the first game, so for us, such an addition is a natural evolution of the title. We worked with Mattel to get the narrative right and joined the force with Maga Animation, a very talented cartoon studio for the realization.
Creativity is a huge part of the Hot Wheels draw. Have there been any improvements made to the track editor? Are there new Hot Wheels pieces included?
Of course, the Track Editor was one of the key features of the first title and it is still important in the second. We followed some of the feedback of our players in order to improve it and we also added some functionality in order to give more creativity and freedom to our creators.
And yes, we added new modules and track pieces.
In regards to the creativity the franchise allows, have you been amazed by some of the track and car creations to come out of the community?
We were more than amazed by the creations of our community. I saw incredible tracks created by players, some are crazy fast while others are like platformer game style. In Hot Wheels Unleashed, we have more than half a million tracks created and more than one million car liveries. With the new tools available in the new chapter we expect to engage our players even more.
The Legendary Edition of Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged comes complete with early access and a couple of volumes of Season Pass. What should we expect to find released as part of Season Pass Vol 1 and Season Pass Vol 2 in the weeks and months ahead?
We have planned an incredible Season Pass Vol 1 and Vol 2 with a lot of very cool collaborations between classic Hot Wheels franchises like AcceleRaces, real car brands, and also a famous movie series that has a lot of cars in it.
The environments that will come out in the seasons are some of the craziest that I have ever seen in a videogame.
It’s been a couple of years since the original Hot Wheels Unleashed was, um, unleashed onto the world. Is the plan to run a rough biennial drop of the series going forward? And if so, what would you like to see implemented in a Hot Wheels Unleashed 3?
It is hard to answer this question, the first game was a huge success for us, and we definitely feel that we have more to put into it, it is quite early to speak about a third chapter. For sure we have ideas, but we will see.
And finally – one vehicle, one location from the game – where are you racing first?
Let me think about it…BMW M3 GT2 at the museum for a race near the dinosaurs.
Huge thanks go out to Andrea for giving us some time in the lead up to release of Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged. You can read our review thoughts concerning the game right here.
And pick up Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged from the usual digital stores. If you’re playing on Xbox, the Xbox Store will sort you out. Alternatively, find the game on PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and PC too.