Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged, developed and published by Milestone, is the follow-up to 2021’s first iteration in the series and the perfect follow-up for those who loved the Forza DLC. It’s an arcade racer that nails the feeling of playing with toy cars on toy tracks and might be a balm for racing game fans overwhelmed by the scope or intricacy of other recent releases in the genre. Players can race against computers, a local friend, or online across pre-built tracks and user-made courses alike.
The best part about this series has always been a combination of simplicity and precision. The crux of success in Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 is whether you can nail the drifts around corners and hit all the turbo pads along the track. Competition at the highest level means avoiding the walls and boosting as fast as you can at the right times. But enjoying the game doesn’t necessitate any of that. If you are a casual racing game enthusiast, this is a game with tight controls and a simple way forward. Put yourself in drive and burst ahead to the finish line, no fuss involved.
Any given track, which can take place in a small number of locales, like the backyard, an arcade, a diner, and an incredible amusement park, has extra gimmicks like magnet tracks for going upside down, off-roading segments, big spectacular loops, and bigger jumps. The spectacular tracks and awesome races have their own distinguishing features. There are endless combinations of ways for tracks to be constructed that embrace creativity to create enormous interactive environments, although not all user-made tracks are created equal by any means.
That said, the available environments are just a bit disappointing. The cover art for the game makes it seem like the environments were getting a major one-up over the previous game however despite the huge number of smaller elements, there is more needed here. These feel no different than before. Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 adds a couple of extra “bosses” to the game, giant creatures and obstacles from famous Hot Wheels sets, but they don’t add much difference to the mix than the ones already in there from the original game.
This sequel makes a slight adjustment to the game’s campaign mode by splitting it into multiple zones instead of one large map. This helps give a sense of progression to the game mode, whereas the first game was mostly just about finding the location of the four bosses and defeating them. The challenges themselves aren’t much different, though. You have your standard expectations like placing first, completing time trials in a certain amount of time, or earning certain scores on drifting challenges.
The slightest difference is in how vehicle upgrades are handled. Over the course of play, you unlock various types of tokens and coins that let you upgrade any car’s top speed or boost speed, as well as specific perks pertaining to handling, boost, and obstacles. The more you unlock, the higher tier your car becomes, potentially locking them in or out of certain races. It’s interesting to see that sometimes, over-boosting a single car might actually make that car unusable in certain challenges. A car with a max speed too high won’t necessarily fare well in drifting challenges, for example. You can also add stickers and liveries to your cars to your heart’s content.
Otherwise, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 isn’t much different from the original game. The only new mechanic is that you can hit a button to jump over obstacles and another to bump cars in either direction. There’s still too much traction along the rails, where if you hit them, you’re basically stuck until the turn ends. But thankfully, the best part of the game remains intact: if you can find a shortcut to exploit, the world is your oyster. Every now and then on a track, the checkpoints may be placed just far enough away from each other that if you nail a hairpin turn or jump the track in just the right spots, you can nail a sweet shortcut.
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 doesn’t do much different than its predecessor, for better and worse. If you liked the original, this sequel offers basically more of the same with some new cars and environments. If the simplified mechanics and air-tight competition were never your thing, there is nothing new in this game that will make you feel differently. Regardless, it’s a well-made arcade racer with endless combinations of tracks to master and excel at.
Hot Wheels Unleased 2 – Turbocharged releases October 19th on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4|5, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Hot Wheels Unleased 2 - Turbocharged
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 doesn’t do much different than its predecessor, for better and worse. If you liked the original, this sequel offers basically more of the same with some new cars and environments. Regardless, it’s a well-made arcade racer with endless combinations of tracks to master and excel at.