If the new Need for Speed game's visual effects are too 'anime' for you, EA says you can turn them off

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Electronic Arts revealed Need for Speed Unbound (opens in new tab) last week as a mix of extremely realistic cars and "the freshest street art," which among other things includes some extremely unrealistic visual effects and customization options: Colored smoke, hand-drawn sparks flying off tires, speed lines, lightning bolts, and all that sort of thing. 

It's the part of the game that promises to make Unbound stand out from the crowd of realistic racing games, like Forza, Gran Turismo, and most of the previous Need for Speed games—but if that's not your thing, you can switch it all off if you like.

(Image credit: Electronic ARts)

"Yes, you can turn the effects off," EA said on Twitter. "In fact, you can choose to never put them on in the first place. Just like any other part of a car."

EA revealed more about how the two visual styles will come together in an update (opens in new tab) in which it described Unbound as "like a classic, generation-defining muscle car that gets resurrected and redesigned with the style and bravado of tomorrow."

"We wanted to deliver an art style that matters for gameplay, one that clearly celebrates player actions, enhances the player experience, and rewards them along the way," art director Darren White said. "We wanted to take players to that next level in Need for Speed Unbound with our driving VFX, which we call 'tags.'"

Tags will "come to life" when you activate your boosting power, and will be seen in the game world "as dramatic, customizable effects that paint the surrounding world, including illustrative lines that etch around the curves of your car." The realistic cars and game world "really help ground the visuals," White said, but it's the flashy, fast-firing effects that really catch the eye and underpin EA's Unbound concept.

"Taking inspiration from street art and other media, we creatively subvert the characters and visual effects, turning them into expressionistic illustrations of ‘you’ and ‘your actions,'" White said. "It’s literally 'graffiti-coming-to-life.'"

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It's an interesting idea and certainly different from other games in the genre, but it's fair to say that for some people, "different" equates to "bad," and even players who aren't put off by the look might find all the on-screen jazz distracting in the midst of a high-speed street race. So even though tags are Unbound's big stunt, it's easy to understand why EA is going to let players switch it all off.

Need for Speed Unbound comes out on December 2 and will be available for PC on Steam, Epic, and Origin.

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

Need for Speed Unbound screen

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

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.