The original Hot Wheels Unleashed was a competent arcade racing game with a lot of charm. However, it wasn’t nearly as good as the Hot Wheels DLC that Forza Horizon 3 featured and lacked depth past its core mechanics. Thankfully, developer Milestone is back with Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged, a fittingly named sequel that adds several smart mechanics to an already polished base.
The biggest additions to the gameplay are additional racing mechanics that help the Hot Wheels cars feel much more versatile while driving. There’s a strafe, which allows you to bump into rivals and avoid obstacles, but the real game changer is the ability to jump into the air. This adds a lot to the tracks, which are able to be more layered and play with verticality, along with forcing the player to pay more attention while driving. These are smart changes that naturally evolve the racing and make it a much more engaging experience than the original.
Similar to the first game, the main single-player mode is a giant map filled with different types of races. There’s more variety this time around, with waypoint, drift, and elimination races being particularly fun. It’s all an improvement over the first game, which got repetitive after a while, although some additions — such as a goofy story told through animated cutscenes and underwhelming boss races — aren’t the selling points that they’re meant to be.
Multiplayer is once again a focus, with most of the race types supporting local split-screen multiplayer, which is always nice to see. Online play is much more fully featured this time around with online leaderboards, the ability to party with friends, and solid lobbies that support playlists spanning multiple modes. It even includes cross-play (which includes all systems except Switch), which will make it much easier to find matches.
Of course, no Hot Wheels game is complete without discussing customization, which is a highlight for both the vehicles and the game’s livery and track builders. There are over 130 cars to unlock, and players are able to customize their driving style by upgrading them via a new skill system — which is great if your preferred design doesn’t have the stats you’re looking for. More creative players will also get a kick out of the new sticker editor, which allows players to customize the appearance of vehicles, and the inclusion of more types of parts in the track editor. This really outdoes the original in every way, which is exactly what you want to see from a sequel.
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged Review: Final Verdict
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 earns its Turbocharged subtitle as it builds on the original’s base to deliver a more polished and enjoyable sequel. The new mobility mechanics add a lot to the racing, giving Milestone and users more freedom in designing tracks. This is quickly becoming one of the studio’s most enjoyable series and a breath of fresh air in the arcade racing space.