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

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

Image: Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts finally revealed Need for Speed Unbound on Thursday, the next installment 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 stylized 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 customized 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.

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

Image: Electronic Arts

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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 personalize 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 customization does look quite boundless, to put it one way, based on the brief glimpses of an S14 Silvia we get in the trailer.

Image for article titled 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.

Image for article titled 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? Color me cautiously optimistic. You can read the full launch car list below:

Acura NSXAcura RSX-SAlfa Romeo Giulia QuadrifoglioAston Martin DB5Aston Martin DB11 VolanteAston Martin DB11Aston Martin VulcanBMW M3BMW M3 Evolution IIBMW X6 MBMW M3BMW M5BMW Z4 M40iBMW M4 CoupeBMW M2 CompetitionBMW M1 1981 ExcaliburBMW i8 CoupeBMW M4 GTSBMW M3 Convertible (E92)BMW M4 ConvertibleBMW i8 RoadsterBugatti Chiron SportBuick Grand NationalChevrolet Corvette StingrayChevrolet Corvette Stingray ConvertibleChevrolet C10 Stepside Pickup 1965Chevrolet Corvette Grand SportChevrolet Camaro Z28Chevrolet Corvette Z06 2013Chevrolet Camaro SSChevrolet Bel Air 1955Chevrolet Corvette ZR1Chevrolet Colorado ZR2Dodge Challenger SRT8Dodge Charger R/T 1969Dodge Charger SRT HellcatFerrari LaFerrariFerrariFerrari Testarossa Coupé 1984Ferrari 488 GTBFerrari F40Ferrari 458 ItaliaFerrari 488 PistaFerrari FXX-K EvoFerrari 458 Spider 2011Ford F-150 RaptorFord Mustang GTFord GTFord Mustang BOSS 302 1969Ford Mustang 1965Ford Mustang Foxbody 1990Ford Crown Victoria 2008 ExcaliburFord Focus RSFord F-150 Raptor Legends EditionFord Mustang GT Convertible (Facelift)Honda Civic Type-RHonda Civic Type-RHonda NSX Type-RHonda S2000 Ultimate EditionInfiniti Q60SJaguar F-Type R CoupeJaguar F-Type R ConvertibleKoenigsegg RegeraLamborghini Countach LPI 800-4Lamborghini Huracán LP580-2Lamborghini Aventador SLamborghini Countach 25th AnniversaryLamborghini Murciélago SVLamborghini UrusLamborghini Huracán PerformanteLamborghini Aventador SVJ CoupeLamborghini Diablo SVLamborghini Huracán LP610-4 SpyderLamborghini Aventador S RoadsterLamborghini Aventador SVJ RoadsterLamborghini Aventador LP750-4 SV RoadsterLamborghini Huracán Performante SpyderLand Rover Range Rover Sport SVRLand Rover Defender 110 Double Cab PickupLotus Exige SMazda RX-7 Spirit RMazda MX5Mazda RX-8 Spirit R (R3)Mazda MX5McLaren P1McLaren F1McLaren 570SMcLaren 570S SpiderMcLaren 600LTMcLaren P1 GTRMercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16Mercedes-AMG C 63 CoupeMercedes-AMG G 63Mercedes-AMG GTMercedes-AMG A 45Mercedes-AMG GT RMercedes-AMG GT S RoadsterMercedes-AMG C 63 ConvertibleMercedes-AMG GT Black SeriesMercury CougarMini John Cooper Works CountrymanMitsubishi Lancer Evolution IXMitsubishi Lancer Evolution XMitsubishi Eclipse GSXNissan GT-R PremiumNissan Skyline GT-R V·SpecNissan 370Z Heritage EditionNissan Silvia K’sNissan Z PrototypeNissan Silvia Spec-R AeroNissan Skyline GT-R V·SpecNissan 350ZNissan Skyline 2000 GT-RNissan Fairlady 240ZGNissan 180SX Type XNissan 370Z NismoNissan GT-R NismoPagani Huayra BCPlymouth CudaPolestar Polestar 1 2020Pontiac Firebird 1977Porsche 911 GT3 RSPorsche 911 Carrera RSR 2.8 1973Porsche 918 SpyderPorsche 718 Cayman GTSPorsche 911 Carrera SPorsche 911 GT2 RSPorsche Panamera TurboPorsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive SeriesPorsche Boxster 718 SpyderPorsche 911 Carrera GTSPorsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet ExclusivePorsche 911 Targa 4 GTSPorsche 911 Carrera GTS ConvertiblePorsche Cayman GT4SRT Viper GTSSubaru Impreza WRX STISubaru BRZ PremiumSubaru Impreza WRX STIVolkswagen Beetle 1963Volkswagen Golf GTI 1976Volkswagen Golf GTI ClubsportVolvo 242DL 1975Volvo Amazon P130