Need For Speed Unbound Beginner's Guide 1

You’ve just started a new career as an underground street racer, so you should get a better idea of what this game has in store for you. This beginner’s guide for Need for Speed Unbound is going to focus on the general game structure, what you should focus on, and how you’ll best be spending your time. You might be thinking, “it’s a racer, so I’ll just race.” But, in reality, this is one of the most punishing arcade racers you’ll come across. You can get caught in a bit of a rut for making mistakes, but you’ll have a much better idea of what to do after giving this a read.

When you start the story mode in Need for Speed Unbound, you’ll be in an extended tutorial. Although, the game doesn’t really tell you that. You’ll pick one of three cars and then learn about the way the game works, but this is all plot. I spent nearly two hours trying to make as much money as I could in this prologue, only to see it all stripped away once I was out of it, so don’t make my mistake. After the prologue, getting used to the game is one of the toughest parts.


To begin with, you need to know that you basically have four lives each day on the normal difficulty. Each time you choose to restart an event, you’ll use one of these up. Use up all four and you won’t get any more until tomorrow. This is for both the daytime and nighttime. As such, you should only restart if you absolutely need to. Usually, that will mean that you’ll lose money otherwise. Once you’re out in free roam, you can drive to meet-ups and choose from a series of events. Simple enough. But you probably will lose money from time to time. The game will punish you for mistakes.

Need For Speed Unbound Beginner's Guide 2

Screenshot by PC Invasion

Buy me a river

There’s always at least one event with a $0 buy-in, but these don’t usually pay more than $3000. When you choose an event, the buy-in cash is put up and you’ll receive whatever the payout is. So, if the buy-in is $3,000 and the prize for first place is $12,000, you’ll really only be winning $9,000. The upper spots for each event will all give you some profit, but lower ones can see you losing the entire buy-in. If that happens, a restart isn’t a bad idea. Otherwise, hold onto them. You never know when you might need them.

Need for Speed Unbound‘s main story is divided into four weeks. The first three weeks are all qualifiers for a big race that will see you trying to defeat your rival in week four. These weeks are broken up into seven days, as you’d guess. The first six allow you to do whatever you want. You can free-roam, take on challenges, do odd jobs, and do events. They’re broken up into night and day. Each Saturday will have you take on a qualifier (or the final challenge) which is made up of multiple races. You need to take the week to ensure you have an upgraded car that’s up to the challenge and enough cash for the buy-in.

If you haven’t met either of these, Need for Speed Unbound will let you redo Friday as many times as you need. Most of your winnings will be going to upgrades. You’ll buy new parts for your cars that will make them perform better, which will help you win races and allow you to be fast enough for the big races. You want to try and stay competitive, but make sure you don’t spend all your money, as that will leave you unable to afford buy-ins.

Need For Speed Unbound Beginner's Guide 3

Screenshot by PC Invasion

The heat is on

Not only do you have to make do with just four restarts a day, but your heat carries over as well. Completing events increases your heat meter. The higher it is, the more cops will chase you when you’re spotted. This means that, if you get your heat up during the daytime, it’ll be the same level at night. You really don’t want to get your heat up to five, as escaping from the cops gets harder and harder. Helicopters show up at level five and that makes it so much easier to get spotted.

When you have zero heat, the police won’t chase you unless you crash into them. But if you have even .5 heat, they’ll give chase if you’re within their range of vision for long enough. This means that you kind of have to play Need for Speed Unbound as a bit of a stealth game. Watch your mini-map and do your best to stay out of police vision cones. You’ll have to take a detour or drive off-road to do this a lot of the time, but it’s better than getting spotted. You can quit to the menu if you’re about to get busted too, so there’s no reason to ever lose all of your cash to the cops. That’s right, you lose all the money you haven’t banked if you get busted by the cops. You can bank any money on you by visiting a garage.

As for events, you might not be able to place highly at first without an upgraded car. You may find that the AI racers are much faster than you and you can’t catch up. Because of this, don’t feel like you always need to get first place. Your focus should be on making money, not necessarily maximizing it. Once you upgrade your car a certain amount, you won’t be able to upgrade it further. This is how you know you’re ready for Saturday.

Need For Speed Unbound Beginner's Guide 4

Screenshot by PC Invasion

Gotta go faster

When this happens, instead of buying upgrades, save some of that cash or use it to upgrade your garage. Your garage has three unlockable upgrade tiers with more parts locked behind them. You’ll need to continue your upgrades after the qualifier. It’s also important to remember that, at the end of the game, you’ll need to have four cars, each with its own rating, such as A and A+. This means you can’t just stick with one car the whole game, although you can certainly try and keep buying or winning other cars to fill these slots.

That’s it for this Need for Speed Unbound beginner’s guide. As long as you keep what I’ve said here in mind, you’ll have a good idea of how to best progress through the game. Remember, sometimes it’s better to not take risks. Don’t bet on races if doing so frustrates you. There’s no need to hurry, as you’ll get there when you get there. Which is an odd philosophy to take toward a racing game, but here we are.

Andrew Farrell
Andrew Farrell has an extreme hearing sensitivity called hyperacusis that keeps him away from all loud noises.  Please do not throw rocks at his window.  That is rude.  He loves action and rpg games, whether they be AAA or indie.  He does not like sports games unless the sport is BASEketball. He will not respond to Journey psych-outs.

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