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KartRider: Drift Preview

Posted by GG Goblin On June - 17 - 2020

The KartRider: Drift second closed beta recently finished, and I am missing it already.

Kart racing games have been among the most fun, and most accessible, of gaming genres since the early days of console gaming. There is a simplicity to driving a kart around a track, competing with other players or AI, that almost anyone can pick up and enjoy. While the big names in kart racing dominate the genre, featuring such stars as Mario, Sonic or Crash Bandicoot, there are plenty of choices for players out there, no matter the platform. Originally launching back in 2004, KartRider has proved to be a massive success in Korea and China, but has been relatively unknown here in the west. That will not be the case for much longer as Nexon are launching KartRider: Drift for both Xbox One and PC, and the second closed beta for the game has just recently finished. With an emphasis on customisation and being free-to-play, KartRider: Drift looks set to shake up the genre and possibly even topple Mario from his throne. Bring it on.


It is easy to see why KartRider: Drift is so popular. Even in the limited second beta, the visuals are bright, colourful and incredibly appealing. There were only a limited number of characters available in the beta, but I am sure that the roster will be filled out by full launch to offer something for every player. Even from the few characters available, the childlike fun is obvious and they are very well made with a premium game feel. The karts again were limited, but there was still a choice of more standard looking karts and some outlandish models that are great to look at.

Being a free-to-play game, KartRider: Drift will have to include some form of income, and this will likely come from cosmetic options. In KartRider: Drift the customisation will be massive. Even in the beta, log in rewards would give access to options for customisation, and both riders and karts will have plenty of different ways to tweak their looks and stand out among the competition.


While cuteness and customisation is what stands out the most from the game, this would be for nothing without a solid racing system to back it up. Now, KartRider: Drift may look cute and cuddly, but the actual racing is a serious business and a pure racing mode is available for the supremely competitive that want to prove their skill over all other racers. This mode is simply about reaching the finish line without having to worry about picking up weapons along the way, as is customary in most kart racers. Simply race better than everyone else and make use of the boost. This will be where all of the skilful players hang out, breaking records and trying to be the best.

On a less serious note, the item race mode is where most kart racing fans will feel more at home. Race against seven others around a track, collecting all manner of different objects to get the edge, from water balloons to boosts. While the speed race mode will be for the serious racers, item race mode is where all the fun will be happening. There is plenty of variety here with the objects, and the ability to team up with friends adds further variety to the racing. This is only the beta though, and I am sure there will be plenty more to come in the launch version of the game, with more objects, more tracks and maybe even more modes.

One of the appeals of kart racers is that they are so accessible. However, for those who want a little refresher, or who perhaps want to learn the intricacies of KartRider: Drift, there is racing school that will teach the player everything they need to know to compete. This is presented with small races in which the player simply has to follow instructions, but is well worth checking out just to practice the mechanics of the game. KartRider features a drift mechanic for taking corners at speed, and players who are used to just coasting around corners will likely find themselves hitting barriers. There is more braking needed than in many kart racers, and so maybe a trip to the racing school would educate the player before they embarrass themselves in a full race.


With the beta now finished, KartRider: Drift has left me wanting more. The high production level is already obvious, and the free-to-play model will be sure to pull in many players. Throw in what is sure to be a mass of new features, from customisation options to modes and tracks, and there is every possibility that KartRider: Drift will rise to be king of the kart racers. Anyone who loves kart racing should keep an eye on KartRider: Drift, watching for further betas and the full launch. Exciting times for kart racing fans.


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