Need for Speed Unbound leaks one day before reveal, looks like the most stylish NFS in 15 years

Need for Speed Unbound leaked image
(Image credit: Electronic Arts)
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You will be shocked—shocked!—to hear that just one day before Electronic Arts is slated to reveal the new Need for Speed on YouTube, a bunch of images revealing the title—Need for Speed Unbound—and an unexpected "street art" aesthetic have leaked courtesy of Japanese site Neowing (opens in new tab).

The images came to widespread notice on Reddit (opens in new tab) but fortunately for us the Neowing page is still up, which means we can find out a little bit more about the game itself too. "Beat the clock, outsmart the cops, and compete in weekly qualifiers for Lakeshore's ultimate street racing challenge: The Grand," the Google-translated (opens in new tab) description says. "Fill your garage with precision-tuned custom machines, put on your own style and exclusive looks, and light up the streets with a soundtrack that resonates from every corner of the world."

Unsurprisingly, it seems that multiplayer will be a big part of the experience: "Go to meetups and show off your style with many items, including limited edition gear, from the latest fashions in the world. Then add the finishing touches to your car's style, transforming it with unique wraps and cut-out items to match your legendary custom car, and take the lead in races and put your winning pose above the competition."

The listing also makes specific note of the game's look, describing it as "bringing graffiti to life in a completely new visual style, combining the latest in street art with the most realistic cars in Need for Speed

history." The soundtrack will also "embody the underground culture" with hip-hop artists including A$AP Rocky and AWGE, and original music produced by French composer, producer, and DJ Brodinski.

Electronic Arts itself confirmed, albeit briefly, the title and new visual style:

(Image credit: Wario64 (Twitter))

My own reaction to the leaked images was an immediate "no thanks," but the reaction on the Need for Speed subreddit is actually pretty positive. "The art style looks very bold and daring," redditor DiamondScythe wrote. "I'm glad that NFS is once again becoming the pioneer of the genre instead of trying to imitate Forza Horizon but with cops or something. We still have to wait and see if the players like it or not, but at least I can give them credit for doing something new."

"Ok, that looks better than I expected," _asteroidblues_ added. "Don't know why the leakers kept calling it 'anime style', to me it feels way more inspired in an urban style/graffiti and Into The Spider-Verse effects."

"Kinda surprised how good this whole anime thing actually looks like," artem0n wrote. "Still not a huge fan of the smoke effects and so on but the characters look really cool. I expected things to look worse, like way worse."

Muckymuh cut right to the point with perhaps the most concise analysis of all: "Holy shit that art style SLAPS."

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

I'm still not convinced by the new look, but I'm also not what you'd call in the middle ofthe target demographic for Unbound (I'm old) so that's probably to be expected. More importantly, it remains to be seen how the game will look in action, and the leaked images might actually be a little bonus for EA to that extent: We knew that a Need for Speed reveal is happening tomorrow, but now we know that it's a NFS that's doing something a little different—and potentially interesting.

Unbound is being developed by Criterion and Codemasters, two studios with extensive experience in making racing games, so it's quite possible that it will handle brilliantly regardless of the visual style. And as redditor Geraghini said, "No point trying to be realistic graphics when Forza and GT have that market cornered. Why not do something a little more outlandish?"

The listing indicates that Need for Speed Unbound will be out on December 2, although that too remains to be seen. The full and proper reveal, which may also include the release date, is set to take place at 11 at ET on October 6, on YouTube.

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.