Here's our first look at Need for Speed Unbound gameplay

Need for Speed Unbound attracted immediate attention to itself with its "street art" visual styling, which includes anime-style characters and hand-drawn visual effects like sparks, wings, and lightning bolts that react to your car's actions and performance. Now, thanks to the release of the first gameplay trailer, we can see what it looks like in action.

I'm actually a little surprised by how much it looks like a conventional Need for Speed, with tuners and sports cars bashing around nighttime city streets, evading and outrunning the police as they challenge one another for the street racing crown. The visual effects give it a certain flair, but they're less intrusive than I expected. Electronic Arts has previously confirmed that they can be switched off, which is good news for NFS purists, but this video makes me think that most players won't find it necessary.

What I do find distracting in the video—and not in a good way—is the racing itself. The cars look (and appear to handle) like toys, and show no signs of weight or momentum; a little Nissan rams a SWAT truck barricade and suffers no ill effects—it barely slows down at all. I know, Need for Speed is an arcade racer and not a high-fidelity driving sim, and how it looks in a trailer isn't necessarily a reflection of how it will play. But even for an arcade racer, those cars look awfully stiff and non-reactive. 

But even if Unbound ends up driving more like Dinky Cars than supercars, that might only be an issue for me: Multiple comments on YouTube also praise the move away from realism, which is a perfectly fair position to take too.

Need for Speed Unbound is set to launch on December 2 and will be available on PC on Steam, Epic, and the EA app.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.