Every year, publishers try to get their games out by October or November to avoid the holiday rush and to ensure that the games aren’t forgotten when the Game of the Year discussions take place for the following year. There have been two games released at the beginning of this month that I’ve been obsessed with after just a few hours. These games are Need for Speed Unbound and Marvel’s Midnight Suns. The latter surprised me more, but I’ll save that for my full review. Need for Speed Unbound feels like a return to form in just about every way.
Despite Need for Speed Unbound is “not supported” on Steam Deck by Valve’s labeling, I’ve had almost no problems with it since day one. The only annoying thing is that the game won’t start when offline. This also affects the Steam version on Windows as I confirmed. , it runs fine across my laptop and Steam Deck. I even played online races on Steam Deck with no problems. The one time the game wouldn’t launch I sorted it by deleting Proton files through the developer menu on Steam Deck.
The mix of a photorealistic style and anime-like designs and effects in Need for Speed Unbound is not something I thought would work well, but here we are. I like the stylish effects for drifting and boosting, but the character models still look a little odd given the rest of the game’s aesthetic. It almost reminds me of the visual disconnect from some of those Fortnite character additions from other brands. The rest of the game’s aesthetics are excellent, and the sound design perfectly complements the visual style of the menus.
I was a little worried about how Need for Speed Unbound would make it on Steam Deck because it’s a game only released on PS5 and Xbox Series X on the console side. I realized it might not run and look good enough on Valve’s portable system. Fortunately, the low preset with a 30fps cap works well. You can aim for better performance, but I noticed a lot of runs or situations where 40hz wouldn’t be stable, and wasn’t a fan of lowering the image quality or rendering resolution below native.
When there were rumors of a new one Need for Speed, I scoffed at the thought that another entry in the series I used to enjoy long ago was more than the mediocre quality seen in recent entries. Fast forward to today and I’ve enjoyed it so much on Steam Deck that I bought the Palace Edition on Xbox Series X to play again. There are quite a few games I’d play on Steam Deck over current consoles, but if visual fidelity is a priority for you, consider getting this on a console or playing on a more powerful PC.
While it wasn’t a priority for me in a new entry, I wouldn’t recommend this solely for the multiplayer. Only get it if you want to experience the campaign and also play multiplayer. The latter feels a bit barebones right now. It also has its own progression if that matters to you. Hopefully this has been built over time to deliver a fully fledged multiplayer experience that modern racing fans expect.
As someone who played a ton of Need for Speed II SE back today and loved it Need for Speed Underground, I’m glad to have finally experienced a modern game in the series that has been a joy to play. Even as the first current-gen only entry in the series, Need for Speed Unbound is a joy to play on Steam Deck. It may have released too close to the holidays for most, but if you liked older Need for Speed game, you must grab this one.
Interested in more lists? Check out our other Steam Deck recommendations!