Burnout co-creator Alex Ward speaks about the new Road Rage-fueled arcade racer.
If the Dangerous Driving video above looks a bit familiar and hits you right in the nostalgia portion of your soul, that’s by design. Three Fields Entertainment, formed almost five years ago by Burnout co-creators Fiona Sperry, Alex Ward, and a number of other former Criterion developers, has been building up to this moment for a while. The team learned the Unreal Engine and got its feet wet with the engine’s physics system in its first project, Dangerous Golf, and then dipped its toe in the Burnout waters with Danger Zone. 2018’s Danger Zone 2 (see my review below) got us closer to the glory days of Burnout’s Crash Mode than ever, and now Dangerous Driving looks to do the same for Burnout’s other memorable mode, Road Rage.
I spoke with Ward about Dangerous Driving, which will release on February 22 for PC, Xbox One, and PS4 at a price of $29.99. I thought back to a meeting with Ward in 2013, when he was still at Criterion and making Need for Speed games. I remember him telling me he was a bit afraid to go back to Burnout after pushing the series to such heights during his time leading it.
“At that time I was thinking a lot about my future and what I wanted to be making going forward,” Ward told me. “It was the beginning of a new generation of both hardware and more importantly, the engines and tools that are used to create them. I’d made up my mind that the Wii U NFS development was going to be the last driving game I worked on for EA. It’s close to five years now since I left and formed this amazing team at Three Fields. We’ve spent the past few years learning a completely new engine (UE4), but also how to make games far more quickly and far more efficiently than any of us had ever experienced before. We’ve been focused on building games in a sustainable way that allows us to build upon each game, each mechanic and each mode really easily.”
ABOVE: Our review of Three Fields Entertainment’s best game yet, the Burnout Crash mode-influenced Danger Zone 2.
“It’s been liberating to get going on this game and try things I’ve been wanting to try for years.” – Creative Director Alex Ward
“I realise now that the tools, technology, and workflows we had at Criterion were way out of date and everything just felt harder than it should have been at times. So it was hard to imagine and be excited back then about what would be possible. We had no expertise in Unreal Engine so we’d not seen just how sophisticated their tools had become. We’d always really struggled with anything physics-wise at Criterion and so I told myself I’d only want to make another high-speed driving game if we could use real physics and not be limited in how we could use them…It’s been liberating to get going on this game and try things I’ve been wanting to try for years.”
I was curious how Dangerous Driving aims to add more fun stuff on top of the already super-fun Road Rage mode from Burnout. “In Dangerous Driving we wanted to return to all of our favourite modes – so you will see some Burnout 1 and Burnout 2 in there like Survival Mode, Pursuit Mode and Boost Chain Races – as well as stuff from B3 and Revenge like Road Rage and Races based around Takedowns. But with every mode where we left off last time is just the beginning – so for example in the Takedown Races we now have persistent wrecks that litter the road which really changes laps 2 and 3.” He also added, “I’m really happy that there’s a LOT of ‘the B2 style’ in this game. And that’s why I’m excited to play the B2-style Boost Chain Races – which was a more refined and almost purer race experience as opposed to the battling chaos of B3-style Takedown Races.”
Finally, I asked Ward if Dangerous Driving’s closed-circuit tracks are related or linked in any way. “We’ve built all of the seven locations in DD to link together, road-wise. We got that done a couple of weeks ago so we could have those great ‘Point to Point’ races, which are great for straight up head-to-head ‘Face Off’ races and also for Pursuit Events. [Art Director] Paul Phillpot and [Chief UI/Graphic Designer/Artist and Designer] Simon Phipps have been authoring all of the link sections and they just finished last week.”
“The fact that we can link all the sections together means we have the start of a ‘Dangerous Open World’ there as well. Ultimately though, we’re a tiny indie team of seven, and whilst it’s fun to think about the bigger picture, the reality is that we’re just entirely focused on making this game as good as it can be.”