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All about the Need For Speed Payback Speed Cards

Gambling will make you rich, or have you spend all your money on nothing

NFS Payback is here and it does things a bit differently compared to before. You still have cars to play with only now, besides classic arcade racing, there are billboards to be destroyed and derelicts to be found. Most interestingly, you also have slot machines to spend your tokens on, in order to make your ride faster. Now we’ll try to disentangle the performance upgrade system the new Need for Speed title features. 

In previous Need For Speed games, if you wanted your car faster, all you had to do was drive it to a parts store and, you, know, pay in-game credit to purchase, and install the desired upgrading part. In Payback, you go to the Tune-up shop, and you buy special cards to boost your car’s performance. A totally new and potentially annoying experience. 

There are six different types of cards, for specific mechanical bits. Head, Block, ECU, Turbo, Exhaust, and Transmission are areas you can upgrade. And it gets worse. These cards’ value is given not only by their level but also by the special perks they may feature, like Acceleration, Brakes, Jump, Nitrous, or Speed. Just to make you even more confused, there are also six different brands featured on these cards: Americana, Carbon, Chidori, Nextech, and Outlaw. Wait, don’t go, let’s break this down so you know what to focus on when upgrading your ride.

First and foremost, a speed card’s value is given by its level. The lowest, naturally, is the level one card, and the most powerful level is 18. So your primary concern is getting a higher-level card. Next are the perks. Each speed card can have up to three perks that’ll give you a slight jump in whatever area is specialized in. For example, if a card has the Speed, Jump, and Brakes perks, it’ll give you an extra 2-3 mph top speed, a bit more airtime when launching off ramps, and beefier brakes. Brands are the third performance modifier - more specifically Brand Bonuses. If you manage to have at least three speed cards of the same brand, you’ll get another small bump in specific areas, depending on what the brand is specialized in. Easy, right? Bare with me a little more.

Collect three Americana speed cards, and you’ll get higher Nitrous and Air ratings. Carbon is all about Acceleration and Air. Chidori is specialized in Acceleration and Brakes. Nextech cards will increase your car’s top speed and your stopping power. Lastly, Outlaws cards work on your car’s Speed and Nitrous. 

The way you match the cards in your deck increases your car’s performance rating that can go up to a maximum 399. However, not all the cars can go that far performance-wise, so bear this in mind when you purchase a vehicle. If you like to invest emotionally in a car, then you can uncover the game’s derelicts and make them shine again. The rusty old bodies actually hide a lot of potential, being the only cars in the game that can go from a performance rating of 100-something all the way to the max. 

Every race you win grants you a speed card, and there are chances that you might fetch some via the special shipments. Lastly, the Tune-Up-Shops are waiting for you with a wide array of offers, most of them bad. And there’s more to that. Apart from the ones listed in the Tune-up-Shops, all Speed Cards are given randomly, so you can’t really choose a specific setup. The best you can do is enter the Tune-Up-Shop’s Trade-in section where you spend special tokens for testing your luck on a performance slot machine. Here, you can “block” a card’s specific feature and leave the EA Universe do the rest of the casting. 

It's an interesting take on upgrading your car but not necessarily the most appealing one. Firstly, if you feel unlucky, well, brace yourself for a potentially frustrating experience. Secondly, the act of using cards to upgrade your car, in a racing game, makes the NFS feel like it’s missing its point, especially as long as it’s still using real-life automotive-related physics and mechanical terms. If you’re the type that doesn’t take things lightly, the card things might look like a stupid idea. If you’re all in for an atypical way of playing a car game, Payback should be a breath of fresh air.

If you have any questions regarding the game, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section below and we’ll try to figure it out together. 

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