Need for Speed Unbound Vol.4 hands-on: A glimpse into the future

Thomas Harrison-Lord
With Vol.4 just around the corner for Need for Speed Unbound, we tested the biggest new features and came away with the feeling that it acts as a sign of things to come.
Need for Speed Unbound Vol4 hands-on - A glimpse into the future

Luftgekühlt is a Los Angeles event for air-cooled Porsches. Petro Surf is similar, only it’s on the German coastal island of Sylt.

Then there’s Streetart.Motorsport.Revival., which is Porsches mixed with art. Or Rennsport Reunion VII which covers the Stuttgart-based manufacturer’s racing achievements.

With 2023 marking 75 years of the brand and simultaneously 60 years of the 911 moniker there’s a lot for Porsche fans to discuss. The same is true in the virtual world too thanks to its relentless push into gaming following the end of a 16-year exclusive deal with Electronic Arts.

Need for Speed Unbound Porsche 75 Years

Be it the 911 GT1 Straßenversion in Gran Turismo 7, a Porsche-only esports competition in the Asphalt 9 mobile game or the 911 GT3 R GT3 (992) appearing in almost every contemporary simulation platform, you cannot avoid Zuffenhausen’s finest.

Now, following another update for Unbound, we are led back to EA’s Need for Speed franchise with Vol.4 celebrating, exclusively… Porsche.

Think of it like an anniversary car meet, only with pink tyre smoke and characters from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

Porsche Taycan, Need for Speed Unbound

A key addition is a Taycan super-saloon. The first ever electric car in Need for Speed franchise history (there have been hybrids but never a BEV), you unlock the right to purchase the sleek slingshot by completing the ‘Porsche Unleashed’ playlist within Lakeshore online three times.

Would you like to guess which cars you’re driving in said playlist?

Porsche, of course!

Utilising two existing classics from the roster, the 911 Carrera RSR 2.8 and 911 Carrera S (993) alongside the EV-revolution, it aptly showcases a facelifted Kennedy Test Track too, decked out in anniversary colours. The location is stylised this way outside of the set themed events, too.

The Taycan is wickedly fast and drifting is cashmere polo shirt smooth. There’s even a range of suitably extravagant Mansory body kits available.

Porsche Taycan, Need for Speed Unbound tuning

However, those are a given. What is a pleasant surprise is the range of tuning options. Given it doesn’t feature a traditional gearbox or internal combustion engine, you’d be forgiven for thinking that these options for increasing performance would be blocked from use.

Not so. Instead, the Criterion Games team has created dedicated tweaking elements for electric vehicles. So there are battery cooling or power system changes, for example, instead of turbochargers and exhausts.

Impressive attention to detail for just one car. There are now options which could be used for future additions…

Taking our now heavily modified bottled lightning for a spin, we’re immediately notified of a linkup. First introduced in June’s Vol.3 update, we think these are the best feature within Lakeshore Online.

Need for Speed Unbound Linkup Vol 4

Small co-op challenges are located in-between playlist events that anyone on the server can simply drive to and assist other players to hit goals such as air time or finding hidden golden bears.

This time around, there are seven new locations, and that brings with it fresh topography, such as the steep linkup we tried near the ski jump, which made for seriously rapid momentum gathering for giant jumps.

They remain the main reason to jump back online in Need for Speed Unbound, especially with some friends.

But there’s another feature that fans have been requesting for some time now – cops featuring within online events.

Need for Speed Unbound Gauntlet Online Playlist

Back in March’s Vol.2, the constabulary was introduced into the multiplayer portion of the open-world. You could spot other players in a chase, and assist in taking out their blue-lit rivals. But, unlink single-player, cops would never appear within online events.

Now, that’s changed, albeit only within a specific Gauntlet playlist. Here, a series of races will gradually increase the ‘heat’ level intensity of your pursuers. Starting out relatively easy, our tank-like Land Rover Defender took the cops in its stride, smashing the Corvettes and Ford SUVs into smithereens.

That didn’t last for long, sadly. Get too embroiled in a battle, take your eye off the prize and in the third race, you could quite easily be busted. The downside? You lose all the bank you had accumulated to that point.

Need for Speed Unbound Gauntlet

With cash such a scarce and precious resource, you can ill afford to misstep. It’s incredibly frustrating, even though you only have yourself to blame. The risk-reward ratios seem to be well judged, but I just wish cops were still across more of the network-connected events.

All of the Vol.4 changes are welcome. More linkups and now a smattering of event cop inclusion are what Lakeshore Online required. There are also new customisation-item Speed Pass levels to climb through, unlocking a wicked-looking ‘Legendary Custom’ 911 for reaching level 50, further modified vehicles to purchase from the in-game store and quality-of-life fixes.

Porsche Taycan, Need for Speed Unbound modified

These updates are free to all players on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S on 16th August 2023, no doubt partly funded by optional paid-for DLC.

Vol.4 is yet another worthy addition, but we can’t help but think further notable additions or tweaks to bolster the single-player offering wouldn’t go amiss. Maybe that’ll be the case for Vol.5?

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