Need for Speed Unbound Chases Those Underground Vibes With a Divisive New Look

Need for Speed Unbound Chases Those Underground Vibes With a Divisive New Look

Electronic Arts finally revealed Need for Speed Unbound on Thursday, the next instalment in the long-running racing franchise, due out on December 2. It’s the first made by Burnout-dev Criterion Games since 2012’s Need for Speed Most Wanted, and it’s going for something notably unlike any of its predecessors.

The art style is what jumps out at you first. Unbound mashes photorealistic cars and environments with cel-shaded effects, flourishes and characters. You can observe it best in how the game renders tire smoke — two-tone, stippled plumes with notebook doodles emanating from the clouds. Everyone’s calling the aesthetic “anime,” and while I’m not sure what the proper name for it would be, there’s nothing really anime about it to me. Auto Modellista, this game is not.

But the look’s still interesting and shaping up worlds better than some of the leaked screenshots and footage we’d witnessed up to this point, where there was less cohesion between the real and stylised elements of the world. Of course, there’s no use making a final judgment on the visuals until we have the chance to experience gameplay for ourselves. Thankfully, December 2 isn’t very far away.

Unbound’s campaign is set in the city of Lakeshore, a fictionalized Chicago, and kicks off with a theft at a family-owned auto shop that “tears two friends apart and sets a rookie racer on a journey to win the ultimate street race and reclaim the priceless car that was stolen from them,” according to EA’s press release. Rapper A$AP Rocky is a character in the game — his customised Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 is on the cover, his new single is the theme and his agency AWGE served as creative consultants throughout development.

Need for Speed Unbound Chases Those Underground Vibes With a Divisive New Look
Image: Electronic Arts

And so, Unbound is situated at the intersection of car culture and fashion. EA its touting “hundreds of cosmetic items including exclusive licensed gear from some of the world’s pioneering fashion innovators and custom automotive gear companies,” seemingly offering as much leeway to personalise your avatar as your ride. Because I know which of the two most everyone reading cares more about, it should be said that the vehicle customisation does look quite boundless, to put it one way, based on the brief glimpses of an S14 Silvia we get in the trailer.

Need for Speed Unbound Chases Those Underground Vibes With a Divisive New Look
Image: Electronic Arts

NFS faithful will be happy to know that the cop chases are very much still along for the ride, and performance has gotten a much-needed upgrade for the new-generation systems. Previously, NFS Heat was capped at 30 frames per second on all consoles. As NFS Unbound is an Xbox Series/PS5-exclusive title — and on PC as well, of course — it will run at 60 fps and 4K resolution. At least, on those higher-end boxes. Hopefully Series S will maintain the same frame rate at a reduced 1080p or 1440p.

Need for Speed Unbound Chases Those Underground Vibes With a Divisive New Look
Image: Electronic Arts

If you subscribe to EA Play — which is also included in Xbox Game Pass — you’ll be able to try NFS Unbound for 10 hours on November 29, three days before release. How are you feeling about where Need for Speed is headed, and do you expect to be playing on launch day? Colour me cautiously optimistic. You can read the full launch car list below:

  • Acura NSX
  • Acura RSX-S
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
  • Aston Martin DB5
  • Aston Martin DB11 Volante
  • Aston Martin DB11
  • Aston Martin Vulcan
  • BMW M3
  • BMW M3 Evolution II
  • BMW X6 M
  • BMW M3
  • BMW M5
  • BMW Z4 M40i
  • BMW M4 Coupe
  • BMW M2 Competition
  • BMW M1 1981 Excalibur
  • BMW i8 Coupe
  • BMW M4 GTS
  • BMW M3 Convertible (E92)
  • BMW M4 Convertible
  • BMW i8 Roadster
  • Bugatti Chiron Sport
  • Buick Grand National
  • Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
  • Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible
  • Chevrolet C10 Stepside Pickup 1965
  • Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
  • Chevrolet Camaro Z28
  • Chevrolet Corvette Z06 2013
  • Chevrolet Camaro SS
  • Chevrolet Bel Air 1955
  • Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
  • Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
  • Dodge Challenger SRT8
  • Dodge Charger R/T 1969
  • Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
  • Ferrari LaFerrari
  • Ferrari Testarossa Coupé 1984
  • Ferrari 488 GTB
  • Ferrari F40
  • Ferrari 458 Italia
  • Ferrari 488 Pista
  • Ferrari FXX-K Evo
  • Ferrari 458 Spider 2011
  • Ford F-150 Raptor
  • Ford Mustang GT
  • Ford GT
  • Ford Mustang BOSS 302 1969
  • Ford Mustang 1965
  • Ford Mustang Foxbody 1990
  • Ford Crown Victoria 2008 Excalibur
  • Ford Focus RS
  • Ford F-150 Raptor Legends Edition
  • Ford Mustang GT Convertible (Facelift)
  • Honda Civic Type-R
  • Honda Civic Type-R
  • Honda NSX Type-R
  • Honda S2000 Ultimate Edition
  • Infiniti Q60S
  • Jaguar F-Type R Coupe
  • Jaguar F-Type R Convertible
  • Koenigsegg Regera
  • Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4
  • Lamborghini Huracán LP580-2
  • Lamborghini Aventador S
  • Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary
  • Lamborghini Murciélago SV
  • Lamborghini Urus
  • Lamborghini Huracán Performante
  • Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Coupe
  • Lamborghini Diablo SV
  • Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Spyder
  • Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster
  • Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster
  • Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 SV Roadster
  • Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder
  • Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR
  • Land Rover Defender 110 Double Cab Pickup
  • Lotus Exige S
  • Mazda RX-7 Spirit R
  • Mazda MX5
  • Mazda RX-8 Spirit R (R3)
  • Mazda MX5
  • McLaren P1
  • McLaren F1
  • McLaren 570S
  • McLaren 570S Spider
  • McLaren 600LT
  • McLaren P1 GTR
  • Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16
  • Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupe
  • Mercedes-AMG G 63
  • Mercedes-AMG GT
  • Mercedes-AMG A 45
  • Mercedes-AMG GT R
  • Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster
  • Mercedes-AMG C 63 Convertible
  • Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series
  • Mercury Cougar
  • Mini John Cooper Works Countryman
  • Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
  • Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX
  • Nissan GT-R Premium
  • Nissan Skyline GT-R V·Spec
  • Nissan 370Z Heritage Edition
  • Nissan Silvia K’s
  • Nissan Z Prototype
  • Nissan Silvia Spec-R Aero
  • Nissan Skyline GT-R V·Spec
  • Nissan 350Z
  • Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-R
  • Nissan Fairlady 240ZG
  • Nissan 180SX Type X
  • Nissan 370Z Nismo
  • Nissan GT-R Nismo
  • Pagani Huayra BC
  • Plymouth Cuda
  • Polestar Polestar 1 2020
  • Pontiac Firebird 1977
  • Porsche 911 GT3 RS
  • Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 2.8 1973
  • Porsche 918 Spyder
  • Porsche 718 Cayman GTS
  • Porsche 911 Carrera S
  • Porsche 911 GT2 RS
  • Porsche Panamera Turbo
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series
  • Porsche Boxster 718 Spyder
  • Porsche 911 Carrera GTS
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet Exclusive
  • Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS
  • Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Convertible
  • Porsche Cayman GT4
  • SRT Viper GTS
  • Subaru Impreza WRX STI
  • Subaru BRZ Premium
  • Subaru Impreza WRX STI
  • Volkswagen Beetle 1963
  • Volkswagen Golf GTI 1976
  • Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport
  • Volvo 242DL 1975
  • Volvo Amazon P130

The Cheapest NBN 1000 Plans

Looking to bump up your internet connection and save a few bucks? Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Kotaku, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.