Ahh, now this takes me back. The original Hot Wheels Unleashed was one of the games I reviewed back in my first year working for Switchaboo. At the time, I remember the game playing extraordinarily well but progression was bogged down by how lucky you were when unlocking cars via a loot box system. Well, coming in hot is Hot Wheel Unleashed 2 - Turbocharged, an upgraded sequel to the smash hit racer. Have they improved on the original game or will this game somehow disappoint me again?
The last thing I expected when booting up Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 - Turbocharged were additions to the controls. I thought the controls for the first game were fine but apparently the developers and the community had other ideas. A big part of online races for the original Hot Wheels Unleashed was players using the realistic physics engine to their advantage and colliding with other racers to spin them out of control. Well, in response, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 - Turbocharged adds the ability to quickly shunt to the left or right, making it easier to do this and also a jump as a defensive option towards them, which is also incorporated into some track designs.
My prayers have been answered, and the lootbox system has been completely removed! I understand why it was there in the first Hot Wheels Unleashed as a way to emulate buying Hot Wheels blind bags but it was more of a detriment to the game’s design. This time around, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 - Turbocharged has an in game shop so you can just buy whatever cars you want (with in-game currency; don’t worry, there's no microtransactions involved). Granted, only a limited number of cars are sold at a time and the shop refreshes every 45 minutes so it’s not perfect but it’s still a massive improvement.
The original Hot Wheels Unleashed had a pretty barebones upgrade system where all you did was improve a car’s overall stats. This time around, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 - Turbocharged adds more nuance to the upgrade system. Alongside the typical stat boosts, each car also has a loadout, which lets you customise how you’d like the car to perform. You can add things like gaining more boost metre when slipstreaming at the cost of a slower slipstream boost, improving handling while drifting at the cost of gaining less charge to your boost metre when drifting or straight up being immune to certain track hazards. Each car gets six slots to add upgrades to; if you add four of the same type, you gain extra stats in that type, e.g drift, boost, etc. But if you want to be completely immune to all track hazards, you are going to need to use three of your six available slots, meaning you can’t gain these extra stat boosts. This extra complexity adds a lot of fun experimentation to how you can play the game.
- Improved controls
- Replaced lootboxes for an in game shop
- Improved upgrade system
The original Hot Wheels Unleashed had a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate World of Light style singleplayer mode that I found to be very enjoyable. It returns in Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 - Turbocharged, albeit heavily simplified. It’s now become way more linear, with branching paths always leading back into the main path and a lot of the secrets have been removed. The original would have a bunch of hidden paths that’d give you hints on how to unlock hidden paths, which tended to be “finish X challenge using Y car". I understand why this was annoying in the original game, seeing as how you’d need to unlock cars via lootboxes but now with an easier way to unlock cars, I feel like the removal of these secrets was a bit premature.
- Simplified singleplayer
Final Score: 9/10
This right here is what I wanted the original Hot Wheels Unleashed to be. Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 - Turbocharged is exactly what a sequel needs to be; it builds on what people enjoyed in the first game while removing the stuff that people didn’t like. I’m very glad I stuck around to see this franchise improve for the better.
Thank you for checking out our Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 - Turbocharged Switch review, thank you to Milestone (via PLAION PR) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: