Need for Speed Unbound: Volume 3 (PC) Review: More of the Same, Which is Great

The first time I played Need for Speed Unbound, I thought it was nothing short of great. It felt snappy and fun like an arcade racer should. Even though the story was forgettable, with cheesy Gen Z dialogue lines about making fun of Boomers, I enjoyed the overall experience. It didn't disappoint, and I still stand by those words. After playing Volume 3 recently, I can only say it's more of the same, which is precisely how it should feel.
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Photo: EA
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To eliminate any controversy on my part that might arise from saying "more of the same," let's dig into what that means from my perspective.

Since Volume 3 is nothing more than an add-on to the core experience that can't be changed short of tweaks here and there, it simply means "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," which is precisely what EA's Criterion did.

This being said, there are a few new improvements on PC that make the experience better, especially if you have a rig that can run it at Very High to Ultra settings at 4K 60 fps. For example, you can see Screen Space Reflections on cars at Ultra settings, and let me tell you, they're not just a gimmick.

Seeing the urban landscape reflect on your new squeaky-clean metallic paint job at 150 mph can even be distracting if you're a visual fidelity nerd like me and like to analyze these sorts of things. Even the road reflection quality has been improved to show off the building further in the distance.

Some CPU and Nvidia 4000 series VRAM issues have also been addressed, which should improve your performance, but it's on a case-by-case basis. Don't imagine you'll get a ton more frames-per-second running it at 4K Ultra.

NFS Unbound Vol 3
Photo: Criterion
There are many more improvements, including for DLSS 3 and AMD FSR 2, but the ones I mentioned stood out most. I welcomed them with open arms because it's nice to see a developer working on titles they released almost seven months ago.

Leaving the technical aspects behind, how do the new gameplay additions feel? Criterion didn't revolutionize NFS Unbound, but they weren't aiming for an overhaul in the first place. As long as you're not expecting a Need for Speed game to be the most precise driving simulator ever conceived, you will have tons of fun with it.

One of the first things you should try is speeding through Linkup challenges. When you've successfully completed 12 of them, aside from XP and cash, you'll also get the newly-introduced legendary 1981 DMC DeLorean.

It doesn't radically change how cars feel in the game, but you can pull some pretty "rad" or "tubular" stunts and drifts when you get accustomed to it.

NFS Unbound Vol 3
Photo: Criterion
If that doesn't tickle your Back to the Future bone, try winning the Legendary 2014 SRT Viper by climbing up the Speed Pass ranks. You'll have to grind a bit until you eventually drive it, but it's a Live Service game, so this isn't news if you're played games like this before. Optimus Prime from Fortnite is currently heavy on the grind, given that it's the last item on the 14-page Battle Pass.

Speaking of paying for things, of course, you have the new in-game store additions that you can add to your collection. However, I'm not a fan of paying for anything other than items or character skins. To each their own at the end of the day, but I steered clear of the store.

Criterion introduced a new Chat Wheel, which could be helpful in some situations, but when you're being chased by cops at 125 mph and go into a 90-degree drift while hitting the Nitrous button, searching for the right symbol from the Chat Wheel is the last thing you want to do.

The rest is up to you to explore and conquer, aside from Space. That's probably in store for a Starfield-like Fast & Furious game. I wouldn't be surprised if EA made that one as well.

NFS Unbound Vol 3
Photo: Criterion


If you've left the dust to settle on Need for Speed Unbound, this may be the perfect opportunity to pick it up again and see what's new, especially with that sweet 1981 DMC Delorean introduced into the mix.

It might not travel back in time when you hit 88 mph or 141.6 kph, but aside from driving the real thing, Unbound offers one of the most graphically advanced representations of Dr. Emmet Brown's famous vehicle. Who knows, maybe one day we'll get to see his time-traveling train from the third movie.

The patch goes live on June 20 at 9 AM UTC, 5 AM ET, 2 AM PT, or 10 AM BST, depending on where you live. As a "one last thing," EA has said we should expect more content for NFS Unbound in the upcoming months, so obviously, Volume 4 is inbound.

RATING 80/100

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About the author: Codrin Spiridon
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Codrin just loves American classics, from the 1940s and ‘50s, all the way to the muscle cars of the '60s and '70s. In his perfect world, we'll still see Hudsons and Road Runners roaming the streets for years to come (even in EV form, if that's what it takes to keep the aesthetic alive).
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