Criterion Games finally unveiled Need for Speed Unbound, its next big title in the franchise, and it looks pretty sleek. In an exclusive with IGN, the developer revealed that it would run at 4K/60 FPS and that the physics supported high frame rates as well.
According to creative director Kieran Crimmins, this provides “more control and nuance to…the physical movement of the cars.” Crimmins also spoke about the general theme of the series. “Need for Speed is about trendsetting. Need for Speed is about breaking the mold. Need for Speed is about rebellion. It’s at the heart of that street racing fantasy, so we should be exploring new art styles and visions and new ways the game can look, so that we can not only stand out from everything else but also deliver innovation where we should be setting trends.”
This year’s entry sports a “completely new campaign structure” for single-player. The story sees two friends who suffer a robbery at the family auto shop. With their friendship in pieces, the player must reclaim a “priceless” car by participating in the “ultimate street race.” Throughout the journey, they’ll meet different characters, each with a different story arc.
“[E]very single one of those characters, we’ve actually made them full characters this time. They’ve got little story arcs, they’ve got personalities, they’ve got their own car customization and style and you can see them driving around.”
Races have buy-ins, and losing a race means it’s gone. “Heat” also returns, though it works somewhat differently from Need for Speed Heat. “Every single race also gives you a little bit of heat. So if you do lots and lots of races in one session, your heat can build up, and you’ll take a huge gamble on the money that you’re carrying around as well. So there’s a consequence there.” You can also make Side Bets and target specific racers. “It’s not as big as the buy-in and the rewards of picking the event, but it is personal,” says Crimmins.
The cops also return and are far more “tactical.” Each vehicle type has strengths and weaknesses to exploit during chases. “You have to pick your strategy for the kind of cop that’s coming after you. And if you get really good, you can even get in a full high heat chase. And if you know all the strategies, you can still get away with it. But if you don’t, or you can’t execute the strategies, you will be taken down.” Once again, players can decide how much heat they want to take from the cops, and mechanics like a police scanner and spotting have also been added if you want to avoid them altogether.
Need for Speed Unbound is out on December 2nd for Xbox Series X/S, PS5, and PC. Stay tuned for more details shortly.