To directly answer the question right up front: No, Need for Speed Heat is not free on Steam. It is a premium title that must be purchased to play. However, it does frequently go on sale for 50-75% off, making it a really affordable option for racing fans.
In this in-depth guide, we’ll explore whether NFS Heat is worth buying on Steam, breakdown key gameplay features, provide performance requirements, and more. Buckle up, it‘s time to burn rubber!
Overview of NFS Heat for New Players
For anyone unfamiliar, here‘s a quick overview of what the Need for Speed Heat experience entails:
Need for Speed Heat is an open world arcade street racer set in the fictional location of Palm City. You take on the role of a rookie racer aiming to make a name for themselves in the underground racing scene.
Here‘s what you can expect:
- Sunset to sunrise day/night cycle – Race during sanctioned events in the day, illegal street races at night
- Customize both visual aesthetics and performance parts of cars
- Outrun the cops through the city streets and wilderness
- Online multiplayer with seamless integration
- Huge car collection – Collect and customize a garage of street racing icons
- The League – Series of structured competitions to build reputation
Overall, NFS Heat focuses on providing an exciting open world playground for gearheads. Customizing your dream fleet of cars and outracing the police provides an addicting core gameplay loop.
Next, let‘s take a deeper look at what‘s offered in this street racer…
Evaluating NFS Heat‘s Key Features and Modes
Understanding what gameplay features define the experience is key to determining if NFS Heat seems appealing. These main elements are what you‘ll be spending most of your time interacting with:
The Open World City of Palm City
Palm City serves as the free roaming map and backdrop for the action. Inspired by Miami, this fictional metropolis features diverse locales including:
- Urban downtown with skyscrapers and highways
- Coastal regions with Miami vibes
- Canyons and forested areas surrounding the city
- Industrial zones with warehouses, factories, and shipping yards
The open world stitches these areas together into one seamless map. Having this large and varied city to race through really enables the free form street racer fantasy.
Customization & Car Collection
Finding, winning, buying, and customizing new cars is central to progression in NFS Heat. There are 127 vehicles in total across a wide range of classes:
- Sports cars
- Exotic supercars
- JDM tuner favorites
- Off-road trucks
- Retro classics
You‘re able to deeply customize both visual aesthetics and performance parts:
- Visual customization: Body kits, wheels, paint, decals, neon lighting and more
- Performance parts: Improved engine, gearbox, suspension, nitrous and additional tuning
Turning run down cars into tuned up street racers is incredibly addicting. The robust customization system really enables you to craft a unique style.
Police Chases & Cop Evasion
The police are no fans of the illegal street racing scene. They aggressively pursue any racer out at night with souped up rides.
Evading the cops is a major highlight of NFS Heat. The police employ tactics like:
- Spike strips
- Road blocks
- Rhino SUV rammers
At high heat levels, chases become intense with multiple cop cars in pursuit trying to take you down. You need knowledge of the open world and skilled driving to successfully escape. This cat and mouse dynamic with the police never gets old.
The League: Daily Sanctioned Events
The League serves as the structured competition within Palm City‘s racing scene. During the day, you can take part in sanctioned race events hosted by The League at designated tracks/circuits.
These events across categories like track racing, drifting, off-road, and drag have entry requirements and restrictions. Performing well earns you Bank to spend on new rides and upgrades.
The League events provide a nice contrast to the wide open nighttime street races.
Seamless Online Multiplayer
NFS Heat seamlessly blends single player and online multiplayer with AllDrive. At any time you can:
- Cruise the open world
- Take on races/events
- Evade the cops
with up to 16 real players. No lobbies or wait times, just instant fun with friends and other racers.
There‘s also a separate Speedlist mode for ranked online races across different courses. Having simple co-op integration really enhances longevity.
Heat‘s Core Day vs Night Gameplay Loop
A key aspect that defines the gameplay flow is the day and night cycle:
- Daytime is for League sanctioned events
- Earn Bank currency from placing well in events
- Bank is used to acquire new cars and parts
- Nighttime is for street races
- Riskier but larger cash rewards
- Avoid the police
- Raises reputation (Rep level)
This creates a satisfying risk vs reward loop:
- Day sanctioned races have smaller payouts but are legal
- Night street races attract police but offer bigger earnings
You‘re encouraged to strategically balance pushing your luck at night while still racing enough during the day to upgrade your cars. The contrast between day and night builds tension and variety into the experience.
Is NFS Heat Worth Buying on Steam?
At full retail price of $29.99, Need for Speed Heat sits in the upper tier for a racing game that originally released in 2019. However, it frequently goes on sale for 50-75% off – bringing the price down to just $7.49 – $15 USD.
In my opinion, when you can grab it for $10-$15 on sale, Heat becomes a fantastic value and absolutely worth buying for racing fans.
You‘re getting a ton of content including a sizable open world, extensive customization system, thrilling cop chases, and multiplayer integration all for an affordable price. If you enjoy open world arcade racers, it‘s easily one of the best choices in the genre the next time it‘s discounted on Steam.
How NFS Heat Performed Critically and Commercially
While not flawless, NFS Heat marked a return to form and was fairly well received upon release in 2019:
- Metacritic Score: 72 on PC, 73 on PS4, 72 on Xbox One indicating "mixed or average" reviews
- Steam User Reviews: 76% positive across 15,000+ owners
- Sales: Reportedly exceeded publisher EA‘s commercial expectations shipping over 12 million units as of 2020
Critics noted the return to a more traditional illegal street racing theme with pursuit cops and solid customization options. While not revolutionary, NFS Heat delivered a well made iteration on the core formula fans expect. It signaled a positive direction for the series following the misstep of 2017‘s Payback.
In terms of sales, NFS Heat also performed well commercially especially relative to declining revenue from physical game sales in 2019. While not matching the blockbuster highs of Most Wanted (2012), Heat‘s 12+ million units still makes it one of the more successful Need for Speed game launches of the past decade.
The combination of positive reviews and strong sales reinforce that Heat resonated with racing enthusiasts and is absolutely worth playing for fans.
Potential Issues to Note
While I personally enjoyed my time with NFS Heat, there are some criticisms of the game to be aware of:
- Repetitive missions – Many story events boil down to uninspired race/chase objectives
- Aggressive AI racers – Opponents tend to ram and play dirty
- Too aggressive cops – Police can feel extremely overpowered at higher heat levels
- Grindy progression – Slow drip of new parts/cars leads to repetitive grind
- Always online – Inexplicable requirement to be connected online to play
These issues can definitely contribute to a frustrating experience for some players. The game‘s strengths overcome them in my view, but they are worth acknowledging.
The multiplayer integration is a highlight, yet the forced always online requirement is ridiculous considering there is zero actual online interaction during free roam or story events. This was likely just an attempt by publisher EA to combat piracy, but feels unnecessary.
Recommended PC Specs for Optimal Performance
Given the detailed open world environment and graphics, NFS Heat demands a moderately powerful gaming PC to run smoothly. Here are the official minimum and recommended system requirements:
- CPU: Intel Core i5-3570 / AMD FX-6350
- 8 GB RAM
- GPU: Nvidia GTX 760 / AMD Radeon R9 270x
- Windows 10 64-bit
- 50 GB storage space
- CPU: Intel Core i7-4790 / AMD Ryzen 3 1300X
- 16 GB RAM
- GPU: Nvidia GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480
- Windows 10 64-bit
- 50 GB storage
Ideally you‘ll want to target the recommended specs for the best experience. The game is fairly future proofed to take advantage of more powerful modern hardware for higher resolutions and frame rates.
Dropping to lower graphics settings can help compensate on weaker systems, but aiming for the recommended specs allows you to maximize visual fidelity. Overall, Heat runs respectably even on mid-range PCs while still providing room to scale up.
Game Editions Breakdown: Standard vs Deluxe
There are two versions of Need for Speed Heat available on Steam:
Standard Edition – $29.99
This base version includes just the core game. You still get access to all gameplay modes, the full car list, customization options, and story content.
Deluxe Edition – $39.99
The Deluxe Edition bundles in:
- 3 Exclusive Cars – Aston Martin DB11, McLaren F1, Ferrari F40
- Customization Pack – Additional vanity items for car personalization
These extras are cool for hardcore fans, but won‘t dramatically alter or improve the core experience. I‘d only recommend the Deluxe Edition if you can get it for close to the Standard‘s sale price. Otherwise the car DLC is not essential.
Verdict: Must Buy When Discounted for Racing Fans
While the full $29.99 asking price is steep, Need for Speed Heat provides loads of high octane fun once discounted to $10-$15 which it often is during Steam sales.
The graphics, customization depth, open world map, and police chases combine into an excellent street racer package. Heat expertly captures the adrenaline and camaraderie of illegal street racing culture.
For anyone that enjoys open world arcade racers in the vein of Need for Speed or Forza Horizon, Heat is easily one of the best choices in recent years once it goes on sale. Just be sure to play on PC or the enhanced PS4 Pro/Xbox One X versions for optimal performance.
In summary, I highly recommend racing fans add this exciting street racer to your library the next time it‘s discounted on Steam. It‘s an offer too good to pass up.
So what do you think – is Need for Speed Heat worth buying during the next Steam sale? Let me know your thoughts and if you have any other questions!