Where is Need for Speed Unbound Set?

"We're gonna paint this whole city black when we burn out."

by Elliott Gatica

Every Need for Speed game sets the stage in some kind of fictitious rendition of a well-known area around the world. It’s a good way to create a sense of familiarity for those who live there, but also a way to tour it through an interesting set of lenses. So, with Need for Speed Unbound out, where is this game set? We can answer below.

Where is Need for Speed Unbound Set?

This game is set in a Chicago-inspired locale called Lakeshore City. It has been known for quite a while, given the leaks laid out way before the game was even announced. The architecture heavily borrows from the real city’s aesthetic, of course with some creative differences. 

Unbound’s Lakeshore City is not going to have the Cloud Gate sculpture in-game. For those unfamiliar with that, it’s the giant stainless steel bean that many tourists take pictures of and in front of. It would make sense as to why an iconic monument isn’t in the game, given the amount of exploration and wrecking you’ll commit in this city. 

You can drive through barriers, tear down street lights, fences, parked and oncoming cars, and billboards. While the developers at Criterion do encourage players to not recreate anything seen in the game, it was the right call to not make anything similar to that landmark. 

We have seen other games being in hot water for depicting areas that heavily resemble real-life areas. Namely, Infinity Ward and Activision were dealing with a potential lawsuit given the nearly photographic similarities with the Breenbergh Hotel map in Modern Warfare II.

We have also seen an ongoing hot-button topic in the NFS community regarding the absence of Toyota cars in the game. The popular car brand doesn’t allow their vehicles to be in the game because they do not like the depictions of illegal street racing. 

So, with the game making a semi-faithful recreation of Chicago, there were areas where there was creative freedom to make it feel like the city while respecting landmarks. The tall downtown area makes it a perfect backdrop for good shots and fun racing, especially with friends. Not to mention, when you start going further east, you get more rural and off-road areas to test more than just tarmac setups.

Need for Speed Unbound is out now for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

- This article was updated on December 1st, 2022

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