Whilst I was waiting for FH5’s Rally DLC, I finally got round to buying Need For Speed Unbound and putting 30+ hours into it. Here’s what I learned along the way (without spoilers), give it a quick read if you’re having trouble with the game!

General tips

1. Learn to handle the heat

If you can consistently escape heat level 5, the game becomes easy. The risk vs reward breaks, and you can easily do as many events as you want! I played the standard edition game through on “Challenging” difficulty, and had a somewhat frustrating experience until I tried out some new tactics.

There’s a collection of tips further down in police chase tips, but this “escape the police” skill is going to be essential to actually complete the game.

2. Unlock every gas station

During police chases, finding a gas station can be what makes or breaks your escape. During normal gameplay, always go out of your way to drive close enough to gas stations to display them on the overall map. Luckily, they have pretty distinctive blue / red branding!

3. Put in the minimum effort for collectibles

Whilst driving around, a green circle will appear on the minimap when near a collectible. Driving close to the collectible (billboard / balloon / street art) will display it on the minimap and the overall map.

Since this usually only takes a few seconds, it should be done whenever possible.

4. Oncoming traffic nitro is useful

If you’re in the left-hand lane, you’ll slowly gain nitro. You’ll also get more “temporary” nitro from near misses (as they’re much faster), and at lower car classes there’s no real reason to drive on the correct side of the road!

At S+ class the oncoming traffic can be a bit hard to see in time, especially during the day, so only do it when safe. On the plus side, you’ll be going so much faster than overtaking other cars will give you decent near miss bonuses.

5. Side missions are the best events

The car delivery and racer escort side missions are absolutely always worth doing. They’re usually pretty easy to get the maximum cash, have no buy-in price, don’t earn you any heat, and even unlock new cars to buy!

6. Side missions can be cheesed

For these side missions, just remember that you don’t need to strictly follow the suggested routes. If you’re asked to deliver an undamaged car, just drive by a gas station immediately before handing it over! If you’re asked to drive a route quickly, feel free to skip corners and break through road barriers.

7. Don’t worry about drifting or takeovers

The game makes it seem like “takeovers” are the main focus of the game, with A$AP Rocky introducing himself as part of one. They aren’t. The races are.

Whilst the rewards can be great, you don’t need to complete these events at all, and the story missions are all races. You definitely shouldn’t buy a car just for these events, all cars can be tuned to be more drift friendly, and events give bonus points for speed anyway. I found that even a regular race car could usually come 1st / 2nd in these events when adjusted to focus on drift.

8. You can tune your car in the pause menu

Nope, you can’t tune your car’s drift vs grip in the event selection screen, but you can by pausing the game!

This really doesn’t make much sense, but is worth keeping in mind before you accidentally take your drift tuned car into a high speed race.

9. Know when to quit

The risk system is the core of the game, and you’ll constantly be tempted to do one more race when at heat level 5. Losing all your earnings to the police is… extremely painful and frustrating, so you’ll need to balance risk vs reward.

I usually targeted $50k for the first couple of weeks, then $100k later on, and by the end having a good car meant there wasn’t much risk, so I could complete any events I wanted.

10. Plan your race order

Each day / night, you’ll probably have 3-4 events you want to complete. They’ll all use different car classes and give different amounts of heat, so doing them in a tactical order is important!

Obviously, higher heat levels are more risky. This is especially true when at lower car classes. As such, getting the lower class races done first is sensible, as they’ll often have a post-race police chase, and you really don’t want to be trundling along in a B class car against heavy police cars!

Additionally, within this grouping by class, completing the lower heat gain events first makes it all a bit safer.

11. Save your restarts

You don’t need to win every race. If you come 2nd / 3rd, so long as you make more than your buy-in (and it’s not a “first place wins a car” race), it’s often better to accept the result and move to another race. I generally only used restarts for extremely profitable races, or when a race had an expensive buy-in.

12. Save your restarts (really)

Okay, so turn 1, you drop from 1st to 8th, might as well restart to try again? Nope!

With drafting and some good luck, you can easily go from last to first in a race. This combined with short race durations mean it’s pointless using a restart until you KNOW you’ve got an unacceptable result, usually around the 85%+ mark.

13. Don’t buy cars

I completed the game only using the pre-upgraded cars received for free when progressing between weeks. They are plenty fast enough, and spending your money on end-game upgrades for your existing cars is usually a much better idea than buying a new car and trying to tune it up to a usable machine.

Race tips

14. Surviving is top priority

Crashes are very easy to get into, and hard to recover from. Especially in higher class cars, a single crash halfway through the race can permanently drop you a few positions, and should be avoided at all costs.

In practice, this means you always need to prioritise NOT crashing over the following the driving line or getting an overtake. It’s much better to take a safer but slower line round a corner if it stops you hitting oncoming traffic.

Whilst the AI cars sometimes take “creative” routes, doing crazy drifts through fences, just make sure you get to the checkpoints in one piece!

15. Drafting is essential

Driving immediately behind a competitor (or police!) provides a speed increase, and builds your temporary nitro quickly. The AI doesn’t have as much of a boost from this as you, so in a straight line you’ll always get the overtake and win.

Whenever you’re not in first place, you should be doing your best to draft any car you can.

16. 2nd place might be better

When on an unfamiliar track, especially high speed ones on the highway, corners and vehicles can seemingly appear out of nowhere. It’s extremely easy (and embarrassing) to completely miss a corner due to the vague arrows displayed on the checkpoints.

One way to avoid this on circuit tracks is stay close behind 1st place for the first lap, and use their rear lights to learn the track. Once you’ve found the tricky bits just take the lead.

17. Always race dirty

If, like me, you’ve played a lot of online racing in games like Forza Horizon, it might be almost instinctive to “drive clean”. But… this is an offline campaign, do whatever you need to!

The classic technique of using opponents’ cars to help you turn works very well, with a couple of positions easily be gained on the first corner or two. Additionally, the extremely cruel “nudge enemy so they hit a wall” works extremely well. If you find yourself feeling guilty, just remember that the AI cars can miss checkpoints without penalty, so you’re just leveling the playing field.

18. Don’t trust police cars

Police vehicles seem predictable right up until they surprise you. Interceptors will try to PIT maneuver you, heavies will barge you unexpectedly, and off road vehicles will land on top of you.

If you’re driving along a high speed road and you see a police vehicle going oddly slowly, there’s a pretty good chance they’re about to rapidly accelerate and hit you off the road. Give them plenty of space!

19. Ignore voice lines

A$AP Rocky will regularly tell you he’s right behind you. He’s not. All the AI voice lines can be ignored, they don’t provide any useful information despite seeming to. As an added bonus, ignoring their taunts will make losses a little less frustrating.

Police chase tips

20. Turn your engine off

Obviously the minimap is crucial when hiding from police and waiting for the escape timer to run out. If you look at a police car’s cone of vision and turn off your engine (hold B on Xbox controller), it will drastically shrink. You’ll still be caught if they drive directly past you however, so this tip is more useful for escaping helicopters.

21. Proactively take out police

If you’re wanted by police and see a police car further up the road, it’s probably worth nitro boosting them for a takedown before they spot you and resume the chase. This works for an interceptor or regular police car, plus you’ll gain a temporary nitro boost as a reward.

22. Find “safe” areas

After playing the game for a few hours, you’ll likely have worked out a couple of areas you’re especially familiar with. For these areas, knowing a reliable way to escape the police search is very valuable. Personally I love the massive ski jump in the bottom left of the map, as the police cars struggle to follow you up & down the ramps, and doing the giant jump usually gives you breathing room.

23. Helicopters are easier than they seem

Helicopters have a large area on the minimap, but… they’re in the sky. If you go under a bridge or large tree, or even just turn your engine off whilst out of range, they’ll lose you.

Helicopters also leave to refuel pretty often, so a valid technique is to just drive as fast as possible in one direction, wait for the helicopter to refuel / lose track of you, then just turn off your engine and escape.

24. Not every police vehicle is equal

I won’t go into much detail on this since it’s all over the in-game tip screens, but treat the different police cars appropriately. Barge normal cars / interceptors, outrun offroad vehicles and heavies.

25. Fast offroad jumps are your escape plan

The police cars are trying to get close to you, and destroy your car or arrest you. My preferred way of escaping is to drive full speed up any hill or jumps I see. The speed helps escape offroad vehicles and helicopters, and the unpredictable jumps escapes interceptors. Just aim for any treeless hills you see, you’ll always land safely!

26. Damage prevention is the best investment

In your garage, you can add “perks” to your car. Damage reduction is my favourite, since there’s no point gaining extra nitro etc if you never make it home with your earnings!

27. Driving in a circle is surprisingly effective

Sometimes during a heat 5 chase, you’ll limp back to a gas station only to find it still has a minute or two of cooldown. Uh oh!

As dumb as it looks, driving slowly around the block the gas station is on can run down this timer pretty reliably. Make sure you’re going fast enough that vehicles can’t catch you, but not fast enough that you’re at risk of losing control.


To summarise, learn to escape the police, then just grind out the highest reward events. The game isn’t super challenging, but can be a bit repetitive!

Finally, my favourite feature of the entire game is the soundtrack, which is full of tiny underground hip hop / trance / trap artists from around the world. It also includes bigger artists like A$AP Rocky (obviously!), and my beloved clipping’s “Check the lock”.