It's long been a meme in the racing and speedrunning community that Need for Speed will never be the same. Some even argue that 2010's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, despite being generally praised by those who played it, as the turning point for the franchise as a whole. After Hot Pursuit came the Most Wanted spiritual reboot, which ended up being nothing like the original game in nearly every way. For those who've played it, 2005's Need for Speed: Most Wanted is widely considered the best game in the whole series.

And yet, it feels like EA has made every attempt to ignore Most Wanted at every turn. The most recent Need for Speed Heat supposedly used Most Wanted as an inspiration, and while it never quite reached the highs of the original Most Wanted, the inspiration was clearly there. As the best-selling Need for Speed game from the whole franchise, it's been practically ignored by the franchise's latest efforts. Now with Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit being remastered, there's no reason why Most Wanted shouldn't receive the same treatment.

NFS: Hot Pursuit Was A Triumph, But Began A Downfall

Firstly, this is not to say that one or the other should've been remade. In a lot of ways, 2010's Hot Pursuit (the successor to 1998's Hot Pursuit and 2002's Hot Pursuit 2) marked both the renaissance and the downfall of the franchise. Hot Pursuit came just a few years after Criterion Games, of Burnout fame, had been acquired by EA and was to begin helming the Need for Speed franchise. As it turned out, Criterion Games was the perfect studio to reimagine Hot Pursuit into the game that came out in 2010. Melding Burnout driving mechanics with the Need for Speed world design and pedigree was the perfect way to make a very successful Need for Speed game.

Harkening back to the linear driving challenges from the original Hot Pursuit games, Criterion's iteration in 2010 modernized Need for Speed in several big ways. For one thing, the heavily arcade-like driving experience from Burnout games was almost one-for-one integrated into Hot Pursuit. There was also the implementation of "Autolog," a newly engaging multiplayer component that allowed friends to compare stats and achievements to score more "bounty." In an at-the-time new generation of consoles, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit was the exact kind of evolution the franchise needed.

Most Wanted Deserves More Than The Lackluster Reboot

EA and Criterion Games decided to continue that momentum moving into the next game with a "spiritual successor" to Need for Speed: Most Wanted. However, instead of taking after the original Most Wanted game, 2012's iteration focused on the idea of competition amongst friends as part of Autolog's next iteration. But ultimtely, 2012's Need for Speed: Most Wanted may have been unrefined in some areas, but as a Most Wanted game, it was comparatively lackluster.

The issue with 2012's Most Wanted was the open world largely felt soulless, and in general the game had a much less concise creative direction compared to Hot Pursuit as well. Rather than being placed in a narrative-based open world racing game, like the original, 2012's Most Wanted largely just felt like an empty playground where friends would occasionally swing by to race. Police AI during pursuits simply wasn't up to par in a sandbox setting, and without any story to adhere to, there was largely no reason to stick around in the game's world. This game would've been less offensive if it didn't have the "Most Wanted" name attached to it, which turned off fans of the original.

Bringing Back The Best-Selling Need For Speed

A true remaster (or remake) of Most Wanted should modernize the original game, not the spiritual successor. 2005's Need for Speed: Most Wanted, which still remains the best-selling game in the series at 16 million units sold, was the gold standard of Need for Speed back when it was developed primarily by EA Black Box. And for good reason, as the game honed in on what made a story-driven Need for Speed game truly great. The game oozes with early 2000s car culture in a campy and sarcastic way, one that never takes itself too seriously, but still provides an awesome balance between an arcade-like and realistic driving experience.

Taking down the eccentric racers of "The Blacklist" was incredibly fun, bolstered by a stereotypical villain and a genuinely entertaining revenge story. In terms of gameplay, Need for Speed: Most Wanted excelled at creating a system of progression that was rewarding and satisfying, in terms of both racing and escaping the cops. The police units themselves steadily increase in difficulty, as the player's heat level increases, with a pace that doesn't feel unfair or impossible.

Depending on how well Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered performs, a Most Wanted remaster should absolutely be next. However, the remaster should follow the original game's concepts rather than the reboot. There's a reason why 2005's Most Wanted sold so incredibly well, and should still be an indication of the type of Need for Speed game that players truly want.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered will be available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on November 6, with a Nintendo Switch version available on November 13.