Need For Speed Games In Order

Tires screeching and cars drifting as you hit the gas and tear up the roads. This is only a fraction of what the experience of the action-packed supercar game series Need For Speed has in store for you. 

If you are a die-hard fan of the best need for speed game series, here is your opportunity to play every single game and learn the entire story of the NFS franchise! And, if you are recently familiarizing yourself with the NFS games, then this article is especially for you!

Here is a list of the Need for Speed games that have been released throughout the years. Browse away to a trip down the nostalgic road or to explore a whole new world of hustle. You will definitely find your personal best need for a speed game here if you don’t already have one. 

A little Introduction to The World of Need For Speed

The 1990s saw the rise of the infamous (and soon to explode worldwide) Need for Speed game. Since its launch and original development by Distinctive Software, the game has switched various developers. Among these are Electronic Art’s (EA), Black Box Games, and more. 

Numerous games have been launched since its initial launch. The fanbase of the Need for Speed game franchise has increased to the point that a movie was also launched on the general idea of this game. 

Whether you play need for speed Xbox 360 or speed ps2, etc., the gameplay is fairly simple yet fascinating. Players control their cars, and the goal is to drive fast and wild to win the race. Further, you can even access the multiplayer mode if you wish to increase the competition. 

The game features exciting storylines, epic graphic themes, phenomenal racing cars (that you unlock as you progress), and many action-packed races. Although you control everything from your controller, this game can still leave you breathless and your heart pumping.

So, from its very beginning to the latest, here is a compact list of all of the Need for Speed games to help you get started on the adventure!

Need For Speed Games: From Launch to Latest

Brace yourself for the best need for speed overload! With the franchise releasing new games every year, this ride will have many highs and lows. 

1. The Need for Speed

The Need for Speed

The very first need for speed game was launched in 1994 on the 31st of August. Players could access this game on their Playstation, DOS, Sega Saturn, and 3DOS. The high-speed, action-packed racing game was wild, and people loved it because of the thrill!

Although nothing too extraordinary based on current standards, the game still won hearts by including the time’s super flashy and awesome sports cars. Each vehicle was finely detailed (both interior and exterior) and stood proud against their real-life counterparts.

The popular cars that the game used, especially those from the well-known, licensed, and infamous brands, plus the fine details to their structure, resulted in favorable views by the critics of this game.

2. The Need for Speed 2

The Need for Speed 2

The need for the speed 2 game was impatiently awaited by many people who became fans after the first game was released. Launched in 1997 on the 1st of March, this edition of need for speed was indeed a game-changer.

This new version changed the usual course of racing action by including new and more exciting racecourses in the game. It featured many more popular cars like the McLaren F1, the Ferrari F50, and some conventional rides like the Ford GT90.

The only issue with the second game was its mediocre graphics, which were worse on the PlayStation. Therefore, the game could not be appreciated enough.

3. Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit

Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit

Released on March 25 in 1998, the Hot Pursuit version of Need for Speed compensated significantly for the previous version’s shortcomings on the graphics. Additionally, it even added a new touch to the previous versions. 

Available on PC and the PlayStation, the third version of need for Speed featured striking and captivating visuals and graphics and better tracks. The extent of which is evident in Sony’s decision to use the game for advertising the PlayStation. 

However, this was not the best part of Need for Speed 3. The game’s highlight was the cool new features, the introduction of cops into the game who could issue tickets, block roads, and pop car tires using road spikes. 

There is no denying that this game was meant to set standards, and it did well. So much so that it is remembered in good graces to date as one of the best needs for speed games.

4. Need For Speed: High Stakes

Need For Speed: High Stakes

The game made its debut in 1999 on March 1. It further expanded the pursuit story from the last game building a complete single-player campaign in the game. 

The great new feature in that game was the option for players to buy new cars and race for the sake of pink slips. However, the track selection in that edition was not up to par; the new features made up for that. 

Features like the multi-race championships and technical advances are what elevated the ranks of this need for speed game among the fans—another best need for speed game edition.

5. Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed

Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed

Can you guess which new car was introduced (or rather unleashed) in need for speed franchise in the year 2000, February 29? Yep, it was a Porsche!

The Porsche Unleashed was the first NFS game to focus on this brand and the car Porsche 2000. This occurred as a result of an exclusivity deal (of 20 years) between Porsche manufacturers and Electronic Arts’. 

While the Speed of some of the Porsche cars was criticized in the game, overall, the game was a massive hit among fans. It stayed true to the need for the speed franchise’s thrilling legacy. 

6. Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2

By the time this edition was released, Electronic Arts’ had a good grip and focused on what they were doing and what they wanted with the speed franchise. On 2002, October 2, they released the second part of the Hot Pursuit, which was better in every way. 

Available on platforms like the PS2, PC, Xbox, and GameCube, this need for speed games was a vast improvement, especially in terms of graphics. In addition, it included extremely luxurious cars as well as stunningly diverse courses!

With flashier cars and better graphics, this game quickly made its way into the hearts of many. In any case, since the need for speed games was inconsistent with the performance of each version, this edition was superior on the PS2 port instead of the Xbox or GameCube.

7. Need for Speed: Underground

Need for Speed: Underground

2003 (November 17) edition was meant to increase thrill levels through new features and updates in the game. Firstly, apart from Xbox, PS2, PC, and GameCube, the game was now also available on GBA. 

Secondly, a whole new level of the edge was introduced in the game with Need for Speed’s integration of the formula culture. This happening was coupled with the additional car modification options in the game. 

Now, instead of being provided ready cars to use, you could actually save up and win enough matches to unlock the booster (prize). Hence, you could customize and modify your ride according to your taste, from rims to tires and more. 

These awesome updates earned it the title of the best need for speed game by many fans.

8. Need for Speed: Underground 2

Need for Speed: Underground

This version of the Need for Speed games entered the market in 2004 on November 15. Need for Speed: underground 2 produced even more options for the storyline, customization, open-world exploration, and vehicles. 

Although this game was great with new ways to keep you busy, however, the fact that cop chases were missing in this game did not go unnoticed. Of course, people were too busy checking out their new modified cars to do anything. 

9. Need for Speed: Most wanted

Need for Speed: Most wanted

Released on November 11, 2005, the Need for Speed most wanted game became one of the most significant NFS jokes. Although this game was meant to balance the older and modern games, it resulted in something completely different but good!

The most important contribution of Most Wanted was the racing arena of the City of Rockport. With its beautiful scenery, exciting mountainous roads, and features of the Hot Pursuit like cop chases, this game kept you glued to the screen for hours!

10. Need for Speed: Carbon

Need for Speed: Carbon

The NFS franchise marked another disappointing creation with the release of the Need for Speed: Carbon on October 31, 2006. To reap further fame from previous successes of the Hot Pursuit, Underground, and Most Wanted, it incorporated elements from all those games and the integration of the new street racing culture. 

Not only did it fail to recreate the thrill of the previous game, it further was unable to do anything for itself. For instance, this game had barely appealing graphics, and the nighttime setting made the game even more difficult. 

This game was available on the following:

  • PC
  • PS2
  • PS3
  • PSP
  • Xbox
  • Xbox 360
  • GameCube
  • Wii
  • Mobile
  • Mac

11. Need for Speed Pro Speed

Need for Speed Pro Speed

This 2007 November 14 release proved much of a failure for the need for speed franchise. The lack of experience on the Electronic Arts part resulted in developing a different sim-based game. 

This created technical issues and other inconsistencies that made it impossible to drive some cars and made minigame mechanics appear unintuitive. 

 12. Need for Speed: Undercover

Need for Speed: Undercover

After the failure of the need for speed pro speed, Electronic Arts’ was adamant about producing something better than fans would celebrate. This desperate attempt was still, however, seen as being somewhat successful.

Regardless, undercover lacked the graphics and technical benefits that make you enjoy the game. Its storyline was not focussed, was very generic, and its campaign was also pretty uninspired by the general people. 

13. Need For Speed: Shift

Need For Speed: Shift

The Need for Speed Shift edition was the production of Slightly Mad Studios, which successfully swept away the fans on September 15, 2009. The highly favorable response that was received for this game was far better than what was anticipated. 

A highlight of the NFS Shift game was the touring car experience that is offered. Moreover, the career mode introduced in the game, the graphics, and the vehicle managing were also pretty epic. 

The Shift NFS edition was available on the XBOX 360, PS3, Mobil,e PC, and PSP. 



The Electronic Arts’ developers for the NFS franchise were clearly adamant about satisfying their entire spectrum of audience. Therefore, with the previous NFS games dealing with the proper car racing, they developed the more casual Nitro game in 2009, November 3.

A Wii and DS port version was developed for the Nitro game that focussed on providing players with next-level thrill, speed, and excitement compared to proper car mechanics and handling. This is very evident by the game’s name itself: Nitro.

Moreover, the game’s graphics featured a cartoonist and animated style to blend in with the casual vibe and make it more friendly.

15. Need For Speed: The World

Need For Speed: The World

The July 27, 2010 edition of Need for Speed was, in its true sense, another gamechanger. Some might even say that it was way ahead of its time – an attribute that is also considered the reason for the game’s failure.

This franchise spin-off featured a more competitive multiplayer experience and came out as an online racing MMO. You could actually connect with other players online in real-time. 

To accommodate the growing audience of the game, the World version incorporated the best attributes of several previous editions of NFS from Carbon, to Most Wanted, to Hot Pursuit’s Rockport City. 

16. Hot Pursuit – NFS

Hot Pursuit - NFS

By the time the Hot Pursuit (2010) edition launched, Electronic Art’s main goal was to retain its audience. The glorious success days were behind them. To cater to the growing interest in sim-based racing, Criterion Games have been entrusted with producing a remake of Hot Pursuit 1998.

Although the remakes are never as good as their original counterparts, Criterion Games splendidly modernized Hot Pursuit. Despite certain technical faults, the game was well-received due to the detailed and aesthetic environment and impressive performance.

17. NFS Shift 2: Unleashed

NFS Shift 2: Unleashed

On March 29, 2011, Slightly Mad Studios released a sequel for the NFS Shift game. The sequel fine-tuned many aspects of the original version. This also included transitioning the game from a true-life racing experience to a more fantasy-oriented game. 

The game features impeccably detailed models of real-life cars, trucks, and drivers, as well as crash physics. Shift 2 was well received by the critics who praised the refinements and finer details of the car models. 

Shift 2 was compatible with PS3, XBOX 360, and PC.

18. NFS: The Run

NFS: The Run

The November 15, 2011 release of the NFS game (Run) was yet another overly ambitious launch by the franchise that failed to please the audience at the time. Fans were disappointed by the divergence of the game from a fixed NFS pattern. 

Instead of another exciting circuit racing story, the Run focussed on a single, long-track interstate chase that spanned from coast to coast. The fans did not appreciate the campaign’s run time of four hours.

In addition, fans were irked by the in-game cutscenes and scripted and non-driving moments in that game that took away the majority of the game time. 

19. NFS: Most Wanted 2012 Edition

NFS: Most Wanted 2012 Edition

Bathing under the success of 2010’s Hot Pursuit’s remakes, Criterion Games endeavored to create another remake launched on October 30, 2012, as the NFS Most Wanted edition of 2012. 

The game would function not as a refinement of the original rather a reimagination of the NFS formula with a touch of Burnout Paradise. However, many of the game’s features ended up being brutally critiqued. 

Among other things, the campaign time was reduced, there was no option for car customization, and constant AI interference made races extremely unfair. Had the game been developed better, it could have lived up to its original counterpart. 

20. NFS Rivals

NFS Rivals

Rivals were the first NFS that was developed and launched by Ghost Games on November 15, 2013. The game features a cross-generational title for XBOX, Playstation, and PC. 

The game was adjusted to be compatible with both generations for consoles. As such, the XBOX, PC, and PS4 versions of the play performed well due to high-quality graphics, quick loading time, and a new feature: a dynamic weather system. 

21. The NFS: No Limits

The NFS: No Limits

Compatible with iOS and Android, No Limits was released on September 30, 2015, by Firemonkeys Studios. This game was launched as a free, stripped-down version of the NFS games with 3D graphics.

Although it included various features of the NFS games like customization, pursuits by police, and illegal racing, it was still criticized for reserving many features from the free version. 

This game was also a business strategy to earn more money as the race time was short and timed, propelling players to spend real cash for longer racing hours. 

22. Need for Speed 2015

Need for Speed 2015

The Need for Speed 2015 version attempted to revive the game franchise with a more modern take by Electronic Arts and Ghost Games. Released on November 3, 2015, this game was created with a vision to offer a great NFS experience with excellent visuals and the most phenomenal customization ever.

The new focus undermined the attention for other game features resulting in a game with the worst car handling that NFS had ever seen. The game was soon added to the list of failed NFS ventures and, fortunately, quickly forgotten by fans.

23. Need For Speed: Payback Edition

If one thought the 2015 NFS edition was a failure, the Payback edition established new standards for NFS failure. At the time of Payback’s release in 2017 (November 10), fans were definitely questioning their loyalty to the franchise. 

The game had no originality or essence of the NFS franchise. It was a money-making machine based entirely on the Fast and the Furious movie franchise. What was worse is that the game featured the exact faults that were critiqued in the 2015 version. 

The game was based on scripted police pursuits, while the card-based system was complicated and functioned basically to get players to spend real money. 


Finally, the latest NFS game called HEAT was released on November 8, 2019. Another production by Ghost Games, although the game was not worse off, it still did not replicate the experiences of the initial few games of the franchise. 

Heat faced mixed reviews by the audience upon its release. People were still recovering from the failures of the last two releases. It still included several improvements in the gaming system, which fixed some of the previous damage. 

What are other The Need for Speed games?

There are nine additional Need for Speed games in addition to the 24 primary titles.

However, they are not considered primary installments.

Infogrames Multimedia released Need For Speed: V-Rally as well as Need For Speed: V-Rally 2 in 1997 and 1999. However, neither had any link to the OG Need For Speed franchise.

EA Canada collaborated with Paradigm to make Need For Speed 64 in the late 1990s, and sadly the game was eventually canceled as EA reached an agreement with Volkswagen to develop a title centered on the new Beetle automobile.

Need for Speed: Web Racing, an online edition of Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit, was released in 2001.

Motor City Online was published the same year; this game was initially envisioned as an edition of the Need for Speed series, but it was eventually scrapped in favor of an online-exclusive approach.

Only a year later, the franchise published Need For Speed: Top Speed, another online-only game intended to hype up both MacGillivray Freeman’s 2002 IMAX film Top Speed plus the then-new Porsche Cayenne Turbo.

Need For Speed 10: TerrorFive joins the list of canceled Need For Speed titles; the premise for this title was introduced in 2008 but never made it into the series.

Need For Speed: Millionaire also appears on the list of canceled games; the online-only title was in development for six months before being scrapped for Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit.

Need For Speed: Edge is the penultimate installment in the Need For Speed series; this free-to-play race game came out in 2017 but was closed down by Nexon just two years later.

Summing Up the List

As mentioned previously, this sports car racing ride has a huge number of externalities. Although the need for a speed campaign started greatly, it did produce specific game versions that were basically sub-par. However, it is fun to play them all. 

However, the aim of the developers with any new release was to either step up the game or try to mimic previous games. Hence we see the hybrid versions of the NFS games. While some flaunt great graphics, others are simply failing due to a lack of innovation. 

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Abdul Wahab is a Software Engineer by profession and a Tech geek by nature. Having been associated with the tech industry for the last five years, he has covered a wide range of Tech topics and produced well-researched and engaging content. You will mostly find him reviewing tech products and writing blog posts. Binge-watching tech reviews and endlessly reading tech blogs are his favorite hobbies.