We weren't quite prepared for what developer Milestone had prepared for the gaming world in 2021. Hot Wheels Unleashed looked like a run-of-the-mill licensed game at first glance, but it shocked many people with deep racing mechanics, imaginative settings, and a slew of customization options. There were some solid arguments for it to win Shacknews Best Racing Game of 2021. A few years removed from that pleasant surprise, Milestone has returned with a sequel. Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged looks to build on what made the last game so much fun. Shacknews recently gave it a look.
Like Hot Wheels Unleashed before it, Turbocharged pits classic toy vehicles against each other on whimsically unique tracks. While only tracks built inside an average home's backyard and on a mini-golf course were available for play, Milestone is keeping that sense of imagination that made the first game so much fun. Expect to see courses in an arcade, a gas station, and a dinosaur museum, just to name a few locales with their various surfaces reacting appropriately to speeding cars.
Tracks are built with many of the Hot Wheels signatures, like ramps and loop-de-loops. Vehicles can crash into and interact with various objects on every track, and they'll react accordingly, thanks to the physics offered by Unreal Engine 4.27. Expect to do a lot of flying, as well, since there's a jump button that will often react accordingly with how fast you're going.
With Milestone emboldened by the success of the first game, Turbocharged will feature a refined vehicle collection system. Cars are now separated into different performance categories, which allows for new modes of transport like ATVs, motorcycles, and other specialty vehicles. A new rarity system is also in place and encourages players to hunt down Legendary, Secret, and Super Treasure Hunt cars.
Every car can be customized both from the exterior and in terms of performance. The latter is done through a refined skill system in which players earn Skill Points to upgrade each card in different ways. Focusing on a certain line of upgrades can offer further bonus boosts and perks. Those who come to regret their layout later can go back and reset their build and allocate those Skill Points all over again.
While Milestone has focused on adding more to its sequel, the studio's main goal is to make Hot Wheels 2: Turbocharged a better gameplay experience. Look for new game modes like Elimination and Drift Master to go along with an improved online system to get up to 12 players into a single race with up to two players able to play locally through split-screen. Plus, the game will include cross-platform play for everyone. (No, not you, Switch players. I didn't mean to get anyone's hopes up.)
We didn't have a lot of time with Hot Wheels 2 Unleashed: Turbocharged, but the responsive gameplay, the active physics, the fun track layouts and environments, and the deep customization make this a game worth keeping an eye on. This is without even going into the Track Editor mode, which we didn't get to try out during our demo. Milestone looks to have a worthy sequel on its hands. We'll see how well it does when Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged comes to PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch on October 19.
This preview is based on a PC demo played on-site from the Summer Game Fest: Play Days event and may not be representative of the final product. Meals were provided by Summer Game Fest.