I by no means imagined I might be penning this when everybody first bought phrase of a brand new Want for Velocity sport in improvement. Initially revealed in the summertime of 2020 with a shot of two automobiles, mentioned sport wouldn’t get an official title till October of this 12 months.

Months after leaks and rumours instructed us a variety of what EA wasn’t excited by sharing itself, and Want for Velocity Unbound was revealed, with all pleasure reserved for racing video games that aren’t Forza.

I discover it arduous to imagine that anybody might say they had been actually wanting ahead to Unbound, past the overall pleasure one might need for a brand new main launch. I’ve lengthy since given up hope that Want for Velocity would even a lot as plot a return to type, and everybody I do know has both moved on to extra real looking racers – or has caught with Forza for his or her driving repair.

Taking dangers in Unbound feels nice, till it would not.

EA’s actions, too, bolstered a story that not even Unbound’s writer has any hopes for it, deftly demonstrating a insecurity within the sport… even earlier than it was revealed.

The sport wasn’t proven to press – and even simply excitable influencers – at any level. The quick window between announcement and launch, particularly given the early December date, painted it as an undesirable youngster; one thing the corporate wanted to place on the market sooner moderately than later to chop its losses and transfer on.

Deliberately or not, EA has kind of carved that dire area of interest for itself. Mass Impact Andromeda, Anthem, and extra just lately Battlefield 2042 had been all knowingly put out in unacceptable form. Some had been fortunate to get assist afterwards, whereas most bought the mercy bullet as an alternative.

All of that basically makes the standard of Want for Velocity Unbound all of the extra stunning. The truth that I spent roughly 10 hours with it (and look ahead to taking part in extra moderately than uninstalling) ought to actually let you know the whole lot it is advisable to know. Beginning with Rivals in 2013, all the best way till 2019’s Warmth – there isn’t one Want for Velocity sport in that interval I loved.

The dealing with at all times felt off, and being compelled to compete with Forza crammed these video games with pointless, hole open worlds that did not justify their existence. EA’s terrible Frostbite engine mandate was the killing blow; an engine made for shooters that everybody else needed to wrestle with simply to get acceptable outcomes affected Want for Velocity most of all.

It helps that Unbound appears to be like this good.

Unbound is the primary Want for Velocity in years with an id. It borrows from Forza, certain, however solely the place it is smart for what it’s making an attempt to be. It’s set in an open world, there are collectibles you may seize, pace zones, and drift zones to run by way of.

But it surely additionally has the – Criterion traditional – billboards so that you can smash by way of, and the extent design of a sport made to be a playground for racing: huge streets, destructible objects, smoothed off entries, and shortcuts round each nook that can assist you shave a number of valuable seconds off your route (or just disguise in once you need to keep away from the cops).

Cop chases, after all, have at all times been considered one of Want for Velocity’s most compelling mechanics. However identical to Criterion took a web page or two from Forza, it additionally realized from the collection’ personal previous successes. As a lot as I attempted, I couldn’t get into Want for Velocity Warmth, however even I can’t deny the brilliance of its night time/day cut up that rewarded you for taking dangers, and added stakes to exploring its bland open world.

That mechanic has advanced in Unbound. Each exercise you participate in raises your warmth stage making it extra harmful for you as you journey between them, and within the races themselves. The warmth doesn’t reset till the following day, that means hiding at a close-by storage or safehouse solely enables you to financial institution your present earnings, and never escape fully scot-free.

In your subsequent outing, you’ve got two decisions: you can skip that whole portion of the day and head again to the storage, ending the day and resetting your warmth stage. However doing so means you’ll miss out on the day/night time’s actions, and any potential earnings you can’ve made. It additionally means you’ll be much less possible to have the ability to compete in that week’s huge event, which requires automobiles for every class to enter.

That is the worth of a automobile at this stage. All gone!

Each time you permit the storage every day is thrilling, and the sport will subtly push you to take dangers and extend bets. A lot of the races themselves have a buy-in, and you’ll even make aspect bets for additional cash.

It’s a satisfying gameplay loop, clearly filled with touches that might solely come from a developer who is aware of racing video games. However maybe its most compelling triumph is find a purpose for Want for Velocity to exist.

Unbound exhibits a path away from Forza’s sticky racing strains, free rewinds, fabricated positivity and car-collecting starvation. This can be a sport the place the races themselves matter, the place errors are expensive. It’s a sport that desires you to spend time with a single automobile, to know its intricacies and improve it in a approach that is smart for you, not deal with all automobiles as stepping stones.

Unbound is a not only a reminder of when Want for Velocity was good: it’s an argument for why it ought to stay.

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