Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 Gives a Great Racing Game a Shot of Nitrous

The bigger the toybox, the better the sequel.

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I’m driving a school bus on a mini golf course. It’s got a country western theme, but also dinosaurs. I drift around a cactus and swoop underneath a stegosaurus moments before it swings its mighty thagomizer and launches the monster truck riding my bumper high in the air. It soars over my head then overshoots the curve as I lose sight of it on the turn. No mercy in Elimination Mode.

Hot Wheel Unleashed 2 from Milestone takes a great racing game and gave it a shot of nitrous. Everything about this sequel is designed to show fans things are bigger, better, and more personalized than ever. There are more than 130 vehicles, eight new multiplayer game modes, a campaign mode, four new gameplay mechanics, five new environments (with different track surfaces and interactive objects), and one new skill system. Will it all add up to the year’s best racing game?

My brief hands-on at Summer Game Fest wasn’t near enough to dive into the nooks and crannies of all this new stuff, but on gut check alone HWU2 proved to be a ton of fun. I started out with the Elimination race. The goal isn’t necessarily to be in first place, just avoid being in last place when the timer runs out. It adds a bit of defensive strategy to the race track which provides a showcase for the new mechanics. Drifting, boosting, and jumping are self-explanatory, but the lateral dash lets you bump opponents and experience some Days of Thunder-style “rubbing is racing.”

You’d think a school bus would dominate this, but in the land of Hot Wheels, it was the motorcycle that was king this day. It was my first race but I could definitely tell that not all Hot Wheels perform equally, and the strengths and weaknesses of each vehicle were easy to spot. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out when the game releases on October 19th. There are so many vehicles, and the potential for a lot of different builds with the new perks, that I imagine fans will have a lot to discuss when deciding which car is “best.” Personally, I race based on aesthetics, and HWU2 has that covered, too.

Did the Old West have dinosaurs? It does now!


Anyone who enjoyed designing custom cars in Hot Wheels Unleashed, which is a lot of you since apparently 950k+ designs were created in that game, will find more to love in the sequel. I didn’t get to play around with it, though in addition to a ton of new stickers in the livery system, there’s also a new Sticker Editor that lets you fully customize a look for your favorite car.

Aesthetics did little to help me in the next mode I demoed, the all-new Waypoints mode. This time I explored the mini golf course map with a totally new objective. Instead of a crowded field of racers, I had to compete against a ghost racer and beat its time going through the various checkpoints. There’s no mini-map to help, just an arrow pointing me to the next waypoint.

I definitely struggled here. It’s a different kind of challenge where speed is less important than awareness. I eventually figured out (i.e. was told) that waypoints extend all the way to the sky and the aim of the game is to use jump and think vertically. It’s a mode I could see enjoying with some practice, but for pick-up-and-play, there are better options available.

I definitely felt adrift in the new Waypoint Mode.


Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 could be the best racing title of the year. It launches on the heels of Forza Motorsport (Oct 10) but that’s a very serious racer for very serious racing people. I don’t think Forza will come close to matching the hijinks and hilarity we’ll see when HWU2 goes live, but whether it offers enough depth in all its new features remains to be seen.

I know Forza won’t have a stegosaurus in it, so HWU2 already has my vote.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 releases October 17 for Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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