Burnout Paradise

Design By Example: Licence Progression in Burnout Paradise

The first of the series to situate all its events within a single open-world environment, Burnout Paradise uses the structure of its progression system to foster a sense familiarity with the streets of Paradise City while also encouraging players to move beyond their comfort zone.

Indicated by stoplights at 120 intersections throughout Paradise City there are five main types of event you can compete in, each divided into two types. The majority of the events (Race, Marked Man and Burning Route) are point-to-point events that task you with driving from the starting intersection to one of eight possible finish points—one for each of the cardinal and ordinal compass points. The remaining events (Road Rage and Stunt Run) are free-form contests that require you to achieve a specific target within a time limit.

A screenshot of Burnout Paradise showing a car racing past a Gas Station.

Knowing the location of Gas Stations and Auto Repair Shops can mean the difference between winning and losing on the streets of Paradise City.

Completing these events forms the basis of the progression system within Burnout Paradise, indicated by your Licence. Starting with a Learner’s Permit and upgrading through the Burnout Licence to the ultimate Criterion Elite Licence, they serve as an indication of how many events you have completed. It is necessary to win two events in order to achieve the first upgrade, to the Class D Licence, from there an additional seven wins are required for the Class C Licence. The first five Licence upgrades are awarded after the following wins: 2nd, 7th, 15th, 26th and 40th.

Once you have obtained the Burnout Licence you will need to complete all 120 events in order to upgrade to the next Licence.

A screenshot of the start of a race in Burnout Paradise detailing the starting and end locations.

With only eight possible finish points across the whole of Paradise City you’ll soon become familiar with the best ways to reach each.

The notable aspect of this progression is that once a new Licence has been reached all events are reset allowing you to return to previously completed events (albeit with more challenging opponents or increased scoring thresholds) and have those wins count toward your total for the next Licence. With one hundred and twenty events available it’s not necessary to complete the same events again though doing so means you can focus on the specific event types you are strongest at or on those routes where you have already uncovered the best shortcuts.

For each licence from Learner’s Permit to Burnout Licence, players are required to complete three more new events than was necessary for the proceeding Licence. This steady increase in the number of required new events encourages players out of their comfort zone while still allowing them to focus the majority of their time on events and event types they are already familiar with, allowing them to turn their growing familiarity with the streets of Paradise City into direct progress toward their next Licence.

Burnout Paradise was developed by Criterion Games and published by Electronic Arts in 2009. It’s currently available for PS3, Xbox 360 and Windows platforms.

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About Justin Keverne

Having snuck onto his older brother's computer to play Wolfenstein when he was ten Justin finally graduated to an Atari ST a few years later, before getting his own PC. Soul Calibur lead to a Dreamcast, and then there was no looking back. Formally educated as a programmer Justin is also a designer and frequent level design critic, his work can be found at GropingTheElephant.com.