- This article describes the Pursuit game mode featured in Most Wanted, Carbon and Undercover. For the Hot Pursuit game mode, see here. For the Pursuit Outrun game mode featured in World, see here.
Pursuits can be triggered within a race event and free roam mode. In and outside of pursuits, players are able to hear police chatter through a CB radio.
Players are warned about the nearest police vehicles in their surroundings by a police scanner or their radar map. The scanner will beep quicker, the closer the player is located to a police vehicle. Patrolling units are shown as red arrows on the minimap in Carbon and Undercover.
Patrolling police vehicles can always be found in random locations within free roam mode and will actively seek for the player if they commit a driving offence. In Most Wanted, players can trigger instant pursuits within the Bounty section of the Blacklist menu.
Police units will engage in a pursuit upon seeing the player committing an offence or upon following an emergency call after committing one of these offences:
- Collisions with police or traffic vehicles
- Racing in high cop probability events or after finishing a race
- Property damage
A pursuit is announced with the camera zooming towards a police vehicle that has witnessed the player perform one of these actions. Following that, the player will receive pursuit HUD information, although their HUD will not be changed if they are in a race event.
Police forces will attempt to bust the player by using tactics such as PIT maneuvers and roadblocks with increasing aggression as higher heat levels are reached. Police vehicles will call in backup as their engaged numbers diminish.
Players can increase the total cost of state from the pursuit by damaging police vehicles, destroying property, increasing pursuit length and committing infractions. In Most Wanted and Carbon, players also earn bounty for certain actions.
Players enter Cooldown mode if they evade the sight of all engaged police vehicles for a certain length of time. This is indicated by the pursuit bar filling completely blue.
Players must leave police visibility by evading all engaged police units to enter Cooldown mode. Players can use Pursuit Breakers to wreck multiple police vehicles within their area of effect. In Most Wanted and Undercover, police helicopter are called in on higher heat levels to keep the player in sight. Helicopters can only be evaded by driving through larger tunnels.
Once the player enters Cooldown mode, a secondary Cooldown bar appears that indicates the player's remaining pursuit time before they can escape. The pursuit is resumed if the player comes into sight of any police vehicle. Players can drive to hiding spots to decrease the Cooldown bar's remaining time faster. Hiding Spots are shown as snowflakes on the map during Cooldown mode and cannot be spotted by the police if the player is in occupation of such location. Safehouses can be used to end a pursuit immediately.
End of Pursuits
Players that have successfully escaped from the police are able to continue driving in free roam mode freely, although they will receive the heat level of their last pursuit for their vehicle. Through visual customisation, it is possible to reduce a car's heat level.
In Most Wanted, the total number of bounty gathered in a pursuit is added together with the bounties from other successful evasions. Players can review their pursuit statistics by accessing their Rap Sheet in a safehouse.
The player is arrested if they fail to escape from the police, which is indicated by the pursuit bar filling red on the left side. A cutscene will be played involving the player being apprehended by the police.
Arrested players receive a warning ticket, impound strike marker and a fine. The fine amount depends on the pursuit's heat level and the infractions committed.
The player's vehicle will be indefinitely seized if it attains three impound strikes or if they lack sufficient funds to pay their fines. The player will have to start from the beginning of the game again if all of their vehicles are impounded.
In Need for Speed: World, players received a small amount of reputation points and had to pay their fine after becoming busted.
The Heat Level of a car highlights its wanted status by the police and is determined by the most recent successful pursuit. Higher heat levels bring in more durable police vehicles, more aggressive tactics, a higher number of engaged units and shorter backup arrival times.
The heat level of a car will be constantly reduced, the longer another vehicle is used by the player in race events or pursuits. Alternatively, players can modify their vehicle's appearance to reduce their heat level. If the player becomes busted, their heat level will be reset to 1.
In Most Wanted, players can unlock a higher heat level after defeating certain Blacklist racers:
- Heat Level 2 - Available from the beginning
- Heat Level 3 - Defeat Blacklist racer #13 - Vic
- Heat Level 4 - Defeat Blacklist racer #9 - Earl
- Heat Level 5 - Defeat Blacklist racer #5 - Webster
In Carbon, the default maximum heat level is 2 and will be raised after defeating a crew boss.
Most Wanted & Carbon
|Level||Max Engaged Units||Vehicles||Backup Timer||Cooldown Timer||Tactics|
|1||5||Civic Cruiser||180 s||20 s||Follow, Rolling Roadblock|
|2||10||Civic Undercover Cruiser||120 s||45 s||Box, Rolling Roadblock, All Roadblock Types|
|3||15||Pontiac GTO State Cruiser, Light SUV||120 s||75 s||Box, Herd, P.I.T., All Roadblock Types, Head-on SUV Ram|
|4||20||Undercover State Cruiser, Heavy SUV, Fast Air*||120 s||90 s||All Ground Tactics, Spike Strips, Air Support*|
|5||25||Federal Cruiser, Heavy SUV, Fast Air*, Cross||90 s||120 s||All Tactics|
- *featured in Need for Speed: Most Wanted
|Level||Max Engaged Units||Vehicles||Backup Timer||Cooldown Timer||Tactics|
|6||30||Federal Undercover Cruiser, Supercharged SUV, Police Helicopter, Cross||90 s||120 s||All Tactics|
|6*||35||Civic Cruiser||30 s||120 s||All Roadblock Types|
|7||35||Heavy SUV||30 s||120 s||All Tactics|
|7*||35||Federal Undercover Cruiser, Heavy SUV||30 s||120 s||All Tactics|
|8*||35||Undercover State Cruiser, Undercover Federal Cruiser, Heavy SUV||60 s||120 s||All Tactics|
- *featured in the Collector's Edition release of Need for Speed: Carbon
|1||$0||Civic Cruiser||Follow, Rolling Roadblock|
|2||$25,000||Undercover Civic Cruiser||Box, Rolling Roadblock, Stationary Roadblock|
|3||$35,000||State Muscle Cruiser||Box, Herd, P.I.T., All Roadblock Types|
|4||$45,000||Super State Cruiser, K9 SUV, Fast Air||All Ground Tactics, Spike Strips|
|5||$60,000||Federal Sport Cruiser, K9 SUV, Fast Air||All Tactics|
- Resetting a vehicle during a pursuit will automatically bust the player (unless the police units are very far away).
- The Speedbreaker is one of the most useful tools for players to use within pursuits as it allows them to make quick changes in direction and scout roadblocks.
- Police vehicles are instantly destroyed after a flipover, although sometimes it is not the case if one happens to be flipped by another police unit or by a traffic vehicle.
- In Need for Speed: Carbon, players get a small time setback in Cooldown mode if they are located near a police vehicle.
- The choice of vehicle should be taken into consideration when engaging in police pursuits; Heavy vehicles are useful for ramming through roadblocks but may be inferior in their handling capabilities. Sports cars are useful for swerving out of the way of SUV units as well as quick getaways due to their nimbleness and speed but are not suited for ramming through roadblocks or oncoming SUVs.
- Cross will always stay near the player once he has appeared in a pursuit but he will not bust the player if they have stopped their vehicle. He will instead stay a short distance away from the player's vehicle.
- Large trucks carrying loose cargo can be rammed to cause their loads to fall onto the road in Need for Speed: Carbon and Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Police vehicles will instantly stop or be destroyed in Need for Speed: Carbon.
- Police vehicles in front of the player will likely be preparing for a rolling roadblock.
- In exclusive high heat level pursuits, the dispatch announces the heat condition as 5, despite the heat level being higher than 5.
- It is easier for players to ram through roadblocks if they collide with the rear of police vehicles as the front is heavier.
- Cop vehicles can not be affected by spike strips. The same is true for traffic vehicles.
- The police in Most Wanted, Carbon, and the PlayStation 2/Nintendo Wii releases of Undercover use the same police siren sounds. The PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 releases of Undercover as well as World also share different sirens to the previous titles.