Need for Speed: Rivals was built from the ground up with the next generation in mind, and for Ghost Games' Marcus Nilsson, "next-gen" means innovation and sociability.
Speaking to Polygon, Nilsson said Rivals was developed with "next-gen thinking," one of the products being the title's new AllDrive feature. AllDrive merges the single-player and multiplayer racing experience, allowing players to drive into each other's games when they are both online for competitive or co-op play.
"With AllDrive, we're changing how people play," he said. "I think next-gen will be about gameplay, about creating something you haven't experienced before. When you're playing it through, you get another gamer in there, all of a sudden you get that unexpected result that you'd never in think of.
"In Battlefield they talk about ‘Battlefield moments,'" Nilsson said, calling back to his days at DICE working on the Battlefield series. "At DICE when we worked on [Battlefield], we never even though about those. Now we're kind of getting to that same area with Need for Speed moments with AllDrive. We're seeing things that never would have happened in a single-player campaign. The depth of the experience is becoming much, much richer.
"Why can't you just be invested in the game rather than the game modes in the game?" he added. "We want to have one experience."
Another way Battlefield has influenced Rivals is its emphasis game's connectivity and value of "unexpected" player-created moments.
"Battlefield is a very multiplayer-focused game, and I believe that racing games as a whole need to innovate," he said. "And I believe innovation comes from connectivity and playing with other people. Going a certain number of seconds and shaving them off your race time has been done, it has to be something more.
"For me, personally, [high-quality visuals] are not enough to make a pretty game."
"[Rivals] really opens up for the unexpected to happen," he added. "You're in pursuit but all of a sudden another player comes in and helps you or hinders you in a way that's still kind of a single-player progression. That's the kind of icing on the cake with this."
Nilsson added that the Ghost Games is not ready to comment on which Xbox One and PlayStation 4 social and connectivity features — such as friends lists, video chat and content sharing — it will be integrating with Need for Speed Rivals. But they have been thinking about it.
"When we have features that are about sharing with friends and playing with friends, we go very deep after those," he said, hinting at possible features coming to Rivals. "When it comes to broadcasting what you've done, like those last 15 minutes of gameplay we'll build a certain feature set around that.
"For me, personally, [high-quality visuals] are not enough to make a pretty game," he added, noting that while next-gen graphics look good, it's not enough to make the game truly something special. "Someone will tell me, 'Yeah just make Most Wanted, but make it prettier.' I'm not interested in that. I want to push the bar. I understand that racing needs innovation to really go out there and create a bigger market. A lot of people going after racing [games] will be creating innovation."