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THE INSIDE TRACK – chapter 1


Hello, HotWheelers!

After the announcement of Hot Wheels Unleashed™ 2 – Turbocharged, the last month has been incredibly exciting for us.

We have been thrilled by your warm and enthusiastic response to this new chapter.

Your enthusiasm is contagious because there is so much we want to share with you.

However, due to obvious reasons, we can’t reveal all our tricks at once, right? So, we’ll proceed step by step, feature by feature, giving you even more reasons to be excited about the game.

With that said, where should we begin? First, we need a developer. Maybe two… or even three (the more, the merrier).

While we wait to bring them here, let’s dive a little deep into this opening chapter of “The Inside Track” – what? Do you want to know who we are? Ah, but that’s a secret! Let’s not lose our focus. We’ve put a lot of thought into what to bring up first, and the obvious choice is Vehicle Customization.

The possibility to customize your favorite vehicles in multiple ways, creating a variety of cars among your favorites and filling your garage with the best ready-to-race Hot Wheels: in short, the brand new Skill System.

Racing is about more than just speed. Hot Wheels Unleashed™ 2 – Turbocharged will put you to the test in various ways, asking you to overcome obstacles while paying attention to your opponents as well as your surroundings. You can’t rely on speed only, because each vehicle is unique, and you might as well want to prioritize other features. This is where the Skill System takes center stage, by letting you choose the best skills for a specific vehicle on a specific track – and if you change your mind, don’t worry. You can select other skills and try out a different build.

Now that we’ve captured gathered the devs, time to nose around…

Let’s break the ice with a simple yet necessary question: what is the Skill System?

The Skill System is a response to the needs expressed by our users after the release of the first Unleashed game. Looking back, we realized that what we did was good but maybe not flexible enough to let them fully customize their vehicles to fit their ideal builds. Just as every Hot Wheels is different, so are our players: the Skill System is that little RPGish feature that allows them to experiment and potentially create multiple useful builds for each vehicle. Still, we’ve thought that the Skill System alone could have led to identical builds, so…

Domenico Celenza (Game Producer).

Oh, we know this: you decided to spice things up by adding the so-called Vehicle Categories.

That’s right. You can look at those and think “What’s so special about it” but in fact, Skill System and Vehicle Categories go hand in hand. As a famous character once said, “One does not simply customize a car.” It could be easy to only purchase a skill and then choose to add it or not, but with Vehicle Categories you actually need to think about the kind of vehicle you’re customizing before purchasing a skill.

Domenico Celenza (Game Producer).

How many Vehicle Categories are there in the game?

Six in total.

Rocket includes Race Cars that excel in high-speed straight-line performance;

Balanced are Speed Cars that can handle well both speed and handling;

then we have Swift: Street Cars and Bikes fall under this category, known for their lightweight and agile nature, allowing for quick acceleration and maneuverability;

Drifters are Muscle Cars that speak for themselves, and they’ll be your first choice when it comes to spectacular drifts;

Off-Roads, on the other hand, thrive on various terrains, so if you need a Quad or a Jeep to do the job right look no further.

Finally, Heavy Duty is the embodiment of the expression “who needs caution when you have weight?”, and includes Vans, Monster Trucks to give players plenty of choices.

As you can imagine each Vehicle Category has its pros and cons, It’s up to you to choose the most suitable category for winning races or overcoming specific challenges. Drawing another comparison to RPGs, you can think of these categories as different “classes,” with each car having its own unique role on the track.

Francesco Riggi (Lead Designer).

A representation of the Vehicle Categories based on the two pillars of the HW driving system (handling and boost)
A representation of the Vehicle Categories based on the two pillars of the HW driving system (handling and boost)

With the introduction of Vehicle Categories, what’s to become of the Rarity System?

We won’t get rid of it. In fact, it’ll remain the same, however, it will no longer have any impact on vehicle customization. We carefully considered whether to keep this feature, and we believe it can still add a cool element to the game, but it needed to be “scaled down”. Now, the rarity system is solely tied to collecting vehicles. The rarity of a vehicle will affect the chances of it appearing in the shop for players to acquire.

Speaking of the shop, it refreshes every thirty minutes and offers a range of vehicles for players to browse and potentially purchase. The number of vehicles available in the shop varies, ranging from six to twenty-five, depending on the player’s level. Additionally, players have the option to force a shop refresh by spending in-game coins.

Francesco Riggi (Lead Designer)

Back to the Skill System, how much freedom does the player have while customizing a vehicle?

A lot, in fact. There are no limitations on which perk you can apply to a vehicle, and you’re not forced to use every perk you purchase. You can, for example, buy two perks and decide to use only one after trying both: this means you have the freedom to put and take off perks to your liking. Again, we looked back to the first Hot Wheels Unleashed™ and realized that one of the major complaints from the community was the actual lack of customization apart from the Rarity System. In the previous game, once you upgraded a car, you couldn’t revert the changes, which restricted customization unless you obtained another copy of the same vehicle for testing purposes. We wanted to address this issue and avoid a similar situation in the sequel. That’s why we implemented the Skill System with interchangeable perks. It’s important to note that unlocked perks only work for the specific vehicle they are associated with. In other words, you can’t unlock a perk for one car, like K.I.T.T., and use it on another car, such as Snoopy. You must work hard if you want all of them to be fully customizable! That said, in terms of balance we kept the logic behind the Rarity Upgrade and applied it to the Vehicle Category Upgrade.

Domenico Celenza (Game Producer).

So you’re saying there’s a fixed Upgrade System, this time related to Vehicle Categories?

Exactly. You can’t go back after upgrading a Vehicle Category though this time the upgraded stats of the category are just one aspect of the overall customization process: upgrading a Vehicle Category to Stock, Powered and Ultimate will give you more perk slots, which are essential to fully customize your vehicle. As we said earlier, Skill System and Vehicle Category go hand in hand, following a carefully balanced design.

Francesco Riggi (Lead Designer).

An early concept of the Vehicle Category Upgrade and the Skill System working together

Another basic question: how many perks can a player apply to a car?

There are a total of Six perks available for customization, plus a seventh bonus that I’ll explain shortly. The number and type of perks you can use are tied to the Vehicle Category Upgrade:

at level one you obtain some perks to unlock but you can only apply one of them;

at level two you obtain more perks and you can add two more;

finally, at level three you gain access to even more perks and you can unlock the remaining three slots. It’s very simple, one-one, two-two, three-three. We call the seventh one the “unique” perk because you can obtain it only by using four perks of the same type and it’ll automatically be added to your build. Remove one of the said perks and you’ll lose the unique one too but not permanently, of course: you can gain it back by applying four perks again.

Domenico Celenza (Game Producer).

You just said “type”, and type usually means strategy…

You can say that loud. In Hot Wheels Unleashed™ 2 – Turbocharged we have three types of perks: Handling, Boost, and Obstacles.

Handling favors, apart from – well – handling, speed, and acceleration at the expense of boost charge and boost capacity: therefore, it’s recommended for Off-Roads (Quad, Jeep, Street Car) and Heavy Duties (Van, Monster Truck), while it’s not useful for Swifts (Bike, Muscle Car) and Drifters (Race Car).

Boost, on the other hand, favors boost charge, boost capacity, and boost speed at the expense of handling, speed, and acceleration: this makes it ideal for Swifts and Drifters but it’s not recommended for Off-Roads and Heavy Duties.

Finally, Obstacles is a perk type introduced mostly for new players: it grants invincibility against different obstacles, and similar to the other perk types, you can fill all the perk slots with Obstacles perks if you choose to do so. However, keep in mind that dedicating all slots to Obstacles perks means you will have fewer slots available for managing the rest of your build.

Keep in mind that, apart from the obstacles ones, every perk has its pros and cons: for an advantage that it gives you, there’s also a disadvantage. There’s a lot to think about this time when it comes to a build.

Domenico Celenza (Game Producer).

Hot Wheels Unleashed™ 2 – Turbocharged, the Vehicle Management menu

And if we want to change the type of boost completely? Bet we catch you off guard with this.

Nice try! We listened to the community and this time around you can change the type of boost.

Francesco Riggi (Lead Designer).

That’s on us, we had it coming. How about what we need to manage our vehicles?

First thing first, there’s a player level system that rewards you with experience points as you play the game. You also gain coins, which have partially the same usefulness as before, meaning you can use them to buy new vehicles from the store (we got rid of the blind boxes). Then there are Skill Points and Upgrade Kits: the former is needed to purchase skills, while the latter are the ones you spend to upgrade the Vehicle Category. You will also come across Spin Tokens, which give you the opportunity to spin the Fortune Wheel. It provides a chance to obtain special vehicles and other rewards such as coins, skill points, and more. It serves as a small boost to your overall experience and progression within the game.

Francesco Riggi (Lead Designer).

We’re almost done! One final question: what about the design choices behind the Skill System?

As I said before, looking back to the first game we wanted to expand the concepts of making your own build and give the players as much freedom as possible, while ensuring accessibility for both experienced and casual players.

Along with the Vehicle Category, the Skill System must lead the player to make interesting choices but also be accessible to a casual audience: on one hand we needed skills that would have given both advantages and disadvantages but on the other, it was mandatory for us that the Skill System was easy to understand. That meant not too many skills or nodes and, overall, the skills descriptions needed to be simple (no numbers or percentages).

Last but not least, an upgrade, whatever it might be, needed to be a crucial moment for the player: meaning that every skill had to have an actual impact on the gameplay, leading the players to want to immediately test it on track. The entire design process was a constant back-and-forth to reach the ideal balance: one that could satisfy more experienced players while also remaining accessible to new ones. Given how many builds you can make this time, it will be fascinating to witness the diverse and creative builds that players will develop, including those that might initially seem unusual but prove to be surprisingly effective on the track, the ones you never thought could work. Give it your best shots!

Domenico Celenza (Game Producer).

That’s all for today. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this first chapter and are looking forward to learning more from behind-the-scenes of the game over the coming weeks! See you at the next scoop by your trusty “The Inside Track”!