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Need for Speed Unbound Vol. 4 Hands-On: A muted celebration


With Porsche celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, EA and Criterion are marking the occasion with the Need for Speed Unbound Vol. 4 update. With new cars, linkups, unlockables, and a dedicated Porsche playlist, there seems to be a lot to be jubilant about.

But does the Need for Speed Unbound Vol. 4 update feel like a celebration? Or does it leave you feeling a little underwhelmed? Let’s find out.

Celebrating Porsche

The highlight of Need for Speed Unbound Vol. 4 is undoubtedly the new Porsche playlist. The Kennedy Test Track has been refitted to celebrate the anniversary with Porsche 75 branded murals, billboards, and flags. The test track is also the home of the brand-new Porsche Unleashed playlist.

This playlist sees players take the wheel of three iconic Porsche cars. The first race, Everything or Nothing, takes place on the roads around the test track with a grid made up of 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 2.8s. The second race, Lakeshore Remaster, pits you against a grid of 1997 Porsche 911 Carrera S,’ culminating in a jump through the barriers onto the test track itself.

Need for Speed Unbound Kennedy Test Track Porsche 75
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The final race is definitely the best in the playlist. Bank B-Side is a four-lap sprint around the test track in a Porsche Taycan Turbo S. Despite having turbo in the name, the Taycan is actually the first electric vehicle in the Need for Speed franchise and is a monster of a racer.

With a 0-60 mph time of just 2.7 seconds, you’ll fly off the line even without the nitrous boost. Speaking of boosts, as this is an electric vehicle, the traditional boost symbol on the HUD has been replaced with a battery - a nice little detail.

Need for Speed Unbound Porsche Taycan Turbo S
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Both the 1997 Porsche 911 Carrera S and the Porsche Taycan Turbo S are new to the game as part of the Vol. 4 update. Completing the Porsche Unleashed playlist three times unlocks the Taycan Turbo S for purchase, whilst reaching Speed Pass rank 50 unlocks the 911 Carrera S (1997).

It’s not just the Porsche Unleashed playlist that’s new in Vol. 4 however.

Meanwhile in Lakeshore

Seven new Linkup locations have been added to Lakeshore City in Vol. 4 including the Kennedy Test Track and Griffith Construction. These new locations offer more variety when completing the Linkup challenges. The ability to quick route to the next Linkup has also been added, as has the ability to teleport to select locations.

That’s right, fast travel is finally in Need for Speed Unbound.

Need for Speed Unbound Vol. 4 Linkups
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Another new feature is Boosted events. For a limited time, certain playlists or Linkups will become boosted, increasing XP awarded and bank earned. This includes the Porsche Unleashed playlist, meaning there are huge rewards to be earned as well as the new cars.

Also new are Gauntlet playlists. Featuring four races per playlist, the heat level increases with each race, with more cops on your tail every time you cross the finish line.

The real challenge, though, is the fact your damage does not repair between races. This means you have to seek out gas stations while racing to repair your ride. If you crash out with damage, you leave the playlist with nothing.

With rival racers to watch out for as well as cops and NPC cars, the Gauntlet playlists are a real test of driving skill.

Need for Speed Unbound Vol. 4
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Finally, there are the new customisation options available. Need for Speed Unbound Vol. 4 comes with 75 free customisation options to kit out your avatar with. There are also new parts for your cars, including a neat transparent rear bumper showing off the engine in the rear.

These all sound like great new features for Need for Speed Unbound. However, it does still feel a little lacking.

A muted celebration

It's disappointing to see only two new Porches come to the game when the update is meant to celebrate the history of the manufacturer. The Kennedy Test Track does look impressive decked out in Porsche 75 iconography, but Criterion still could have done more to show off the history of Porsche.

This is also a multiplayer-only celebration. None of the new features apply to Solo play, and that’s a real shame. Bringing back the main voice actors to record some new lines about Porsche for the main story would have been a nice tribute, or maybe even a new Porsche exclusive race as part of the main story.

Need for Speed Unbound Vol. 4 Customs Pack
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Then there is the premium DLC Vol. 4 Customs Pack. Containing iconic cars from previous games, this pack is meant to be a nod to the franchise’s past. Instead, it’s really just recharging players for cars available both in Need for Speed Unbound and even Need for Speed Heat.

This has already generated a lot of hate amongst the fanbase, with prominent Need for Speed YouTuber Blackpanthaa urging fans not to buy the DLC.

Need for Speed Unbound Vol. 4 Porsche 75
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Overall the Need for Speed Unbound Vol. 4 update feels like a genuine attempt to add new content to the online experience but ultimately falls just short. The new Linkups are fun to experience the first time but quickly get repetitive.

The Porsche Unleashed playlist is exactly the same: fun the first time but monotonous each time after. The fact you have to play through the playlist three times to unlock the Taycan shows more playlists should have been created to celebrate the true history of Porsche.

All in all, Vol. 4 is a muted celebration of Porsche, saved only by the innovative Gauntlet playlists and the eventual introduction of a fast travel system. Vol. 4 will be available to players from 16 August - you can check out the patch notes here.

For more articles like this, take a look at our Need for Speed page.