Following the release of “Need for Speed Heat,” the series went on a hiatus. The developer, Ghost Games, was taken off the series and turned into a support studio called EA Gothenburg. That put former “Burnout” and “Need for Speed” developer Criterion back in charge of the franchise. What Criterion has put together is called “Need for Speed Unbound.” It launches in December, and it looks very interesting.
In many ways, it follows the classic narrative “Need for Speed” structure. Some event has led the player to need to work their way up through the street-racing world to defeat the top racer or largest racing challenge. This involves building highly-tuned cars and dodging the police. It seems the customization options will be just as robust as other recent entries in the series, too.
What’s unique is the art style. Based on the screenshots and reveal trailer, the highly realistic rendering of the city and cars has the occasional overlay of graffiti and street art-inspired 2D graphics. Additionally, all the characters in the game have cel-shaded rendering to also give them a cartoon-y look. There are some game modes alluded to by Criterion and EA that focus on style. One of those features rap artist A$AP Rocky, who appears in the game with his customized Mercedes 190 E. We’re curious if some of these graphical flourishes will play more of a role in some of the gameplay.
The game launches on December 2. Customers can pre-order the game, which will get them a variety of exclusive customization items and a bonus of $150,000 in the game. A Palace Edition version of the game is available, too, with items and custom cars themed around Palace Skateboards. The base version of the game goes for $69.99 and the Palace Edition is $79.99. The game will be offered for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S and PC. EA also noted that additional free content will be released for the game post-launch.