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HomeGamingKartRider: Drift Review – An Arcade Racing Game Worth Trying

KartRider: Drift Review – An Arcade Racing Game Worth Trying

KartRider Drift review

The KartRider franchise might sound unfamiliar to most. However, this racing game series has been extremely popular in the Asian region since its first debut. Nexon released the original KartRider in 2004, entertaining more than 380 million players during all these years. Moreover, it continues to be a massive eSports hit in Korea.

Not surprisingly, the developers aim to target also Western markets with their brand-new KartRider: Drift, hoping to conquer an even larger public. But will this really be the case?

At first glance, KartRider: Drift might look like yet another copy of the Mario Kart series. In fact, this game takes much inspiration from the king of all arcade racing games released so far. In about 30 years, no one has ever managed to be as fun and entertaining as the Mario Kart franchise, despite many great attempts, such as Crash Team Racing and Sonic & All-Stars Racing. And, in the end, KartRider: Drift makes no exception, but it does its best to provide a fun and entertaining experience for most arcade racing game enthusiasts.

The game, currently available on PC and mobile devices, offers an interesting free-to-play formula, which allows everyone to access the game and speed around the many available tracks. Most remarkable is that KartRider: Drift is not at all pay-to-win. It offers in-game purchases, but they are solely tied to cosmetic upgrades for the driver and the kart, with a similar formula to Fortnite's Battle Pass. And, as for the popular battle royale, they in no way impact the playability and results of each match, providing a balanced and genuinely competitive challenge for all players.

The gameplay is simple yet demanding. You can start KartRider: Drift and immediately enter a race just after a brief tutorial. You will be racing on easy tracks that almost do not involve sharp turns, and you will have a high chance of crossing the finish line in first position if you are already familiar with arcade racing games. The drifting mechanic almost takes a secondary role on these tracks, which require no special skills to complete. The real fun starts when you unlock the Licenses by playing the dedicated game mode. You will have to prove your skills by completing a series of challenges and earning at least one star in every trial. When you get a License, you will be able to access new tracks with a higher level of difficulty and a real need to start drifting properly.

The game, however, could be clearer about that, as it does not explain it in the initial tutorial. I won't hide the fact that, at first, I thought that only easy tracks were available. Fortunately, the level of challenge and difficulty increases as new licenses are unlocked, effectively making KartRider: Drift a game dedicated to both casual and authentic hardcore players who genuinely enjoy arcade racing games. On PC, controllers are fully supported, while on mobile, some issues still prevent from using them at their best. You will need to rely on touch controls, but considering that the game supports cross-play, a pad is always preferred to manage the drifting mechanics better.

Besides the License mode, KartRider: Drift also offers the Item and Speed Modes, which are the true core of the game itself. The first is a chaotic yet entertaining race that pretty much resembles the Mario Kart games. You will drive your kart and compete against the other players, and you will find various random items you can use during the match to take advantage, slow down enemies and protect yourself from their attacks. For example, you can use a magnet to latch onto one of your rivals, to exploit their drag and run faster for a limited time, trying to pass them. You can also use the turbo for a brief time, make some walls appear in the middle of the track, or activate a shield that will keep you safe from other players’ offensives. In this mode, a mix of luck and skill takes center stage.

The Speed Mode, however, emphasizes the drivers’ true skills, pitting them against each other with nothing but their karts. Drifting must be fully mastered, especially on higher-difficulty tracks, for a real chance of getting around tight corners at high speeds and winning the race. And while the Driving Assistance features might sound tempting at first, it’s with the Original control settings that you will have complete control of your kart, allowing you to get the best-drifting angles and enjoy the finest feeling with your vehicle. In this case, the Instant Boost mechanic, which you learn to master during the B2 License challenges, will be the key to victory, as it will grant you a slight, additional acceleration after successfully completing a drift. Then, if you want to test your skills and practice on a specific track, you can start a Time Attack by selecting this mode in the main menu so that you can find the best trajectory to follow and train your drifting.

Despite the uninspired design of the initial circuits, the situation improves considerably once the Licenses are unlocked. The tracks linked to the L3 License, in particular, test most players' patience with tight turns that are pretty difficult to tackle. The risk of falling is always around the corner, and it takes excellent command of the game controls to get to the finish line unscathed. On the other hand, we are still speaking of a game that significantly resembles the Mario Kart franchise without innovating the genre. There are no groundbreaking game modes or mechanics that can leave one speechless, and it is clear that KartRider: Drift has been developed with an eye toward the vast audience that mostly plays from mobile. On smartphones and tablets, you can rely on simplified controls that will only require you to steer left or right and drift when needed while the kart accelerates automatically.

Fortunately, matchmaking is quite fast on both PC and mobile, as it requires only a few seconds to find a new race to join in every game mode. The fact that cross-play is enabled by default and that the game is free-to-play surely helps that. You will be paired with other players of similar skills to yours, so you have your best chances to prove your true drifting abilities. In addition, matchmaking is quite generous at the beginning. I won most races without much difficulty during the initial hours of playing, but that soon changed as I unlocked new tracks and entered more and more competitions.

Speaking of progression and rewards, KartRider: Drift features a game pass, as many other free-to-play games do. It is called Racing Pass and is divided into Normal and Premium. The first offers mostly basic prizes, such as emotes, coins, and some characters and karts. The latter, instead, gives you better gifts, including a higher number of skins for your driver and a lot more coins, both standard (called Lucci) and special ones (K-COINS). Buying the Premium Racing Pass will cost you 500 K-COINS, which can also be obtained by spending real money (pretty much like V-Bucks in Fortnite).

You will progress in the Racing Pass as you complete the Daily Challenges and earn trophies, thus leveling up. Most tasks are easy to achieve, as they generally ask you to drive or complete a certain number of races in different game modes. There are Premium Challenges as well, only available to Premium Racing Pass users, which will award you extra trophies upon completion, allowing you to level up faster. Forty levels are available per season, and all these rewards, available to Normal and Premium players, surely help keep them entertained while raising the level of challenge the game offers.

Moreover, KartRider: Drift could not miss an in-game shop, regularly updated with new karts, characters, emotes, decals, and more. Besides, what else would be the point of all those coins rewarded through the Racing Pass? The most appealing items can be purchased via K-COINS, which, as I have said before, will cost you some real money if you haven’t collected enough with the Battle Pass. Then again, we are speaking of a free-to-play game with no pay-to-win formula, so it is more than justified to find the prettiest skins at a high price. The devs, however, have not forgotten the other slice of players and propose different items that can be purchased with the standard Lucci coins without necessarily spending any real money.

Daily Rewards are also a thing. KartRider Drifts rewards players for their daily logins, giving them emojis and Lucci coins. Special Events, available only for a certain period, grant additional items which all players can collect upon completing specific challenges.

The Garage is where the magic happens. You can freely customize your kart and character, set new emojis, and easily create presets that come in handy when you want to switch from one design to another quickly. The number of available karts varies based on the ones you have purchased and unlocked so far, and you can select the one you like the most without any fear. As I have previously outlined, customizations are purely cosmetic and do not impact the gameplay in any way. You can choose the look of your wheels, of the booster, modify the license plate and even create new decals to wrap your car. There are plenty of patterns and images, so the only limit is your imagination. Although this won’t help you during races, it will make you look way cooler than most of your opponents, which is quite satisfying.

The main character who will be driving the car can also be customized. Plenty of drivers are available right from the beginning of the game, and many alternative versions can be unlocked via the Battle Pass or by purchasing them from the Shop. They will have different outfits and accessories, offering a good level of personalization. Finally, emotes can be set from the Character menu as well. They are indeed a fun way of rejoicing when you win a race and can be customized freely.

The game’s art style is quite cartoonish, with plenty of colorful characters. The whole KartRider: Drift world, including its tracks, is vibrant and offers a decent level of detail and unique environments, from city streets to snow-covered mountains. This also applies to karts, as each has a unique style and distinctive elements that make them look quite cool. In fact, the monetization system behind the game is based precisely on that, and it is clear that the Nexon team placed great emphasis on the look and feel of the title and its high degree of customization. And the Daily Rewards, as well as the Daily Challenges, are a great way of making players want to return and continue racing to unlock new stylish items. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is quite repetitive and tiresome in the long run.

KartRider: Drift runs smoothly on PC and does not require high specs to be played at max settings. Most recent computers, including laptops with a dedicated GPU, should be able to run this game without any issues. The same goes for mobile, as you can enjoy a lag-free experience on mid and high-end devices.

Finally, you can also sync your account and progressions between PC and mobile versions and play directly from your smartphone. To do that, you need to create a Nexon account and log in with it. The races usually last only a few minutes, so it turns out to be a great pastime when you are waiting at the post office or while you are far from home but still want to collect the Daily Rewards. And, if you are looking for an arcade racing game that resembles Mario Kart and can be challenging, entertaining, and free, KartRider: Drift might be the right pick.

PC version reviewed.

The post KartRider: Drift Review – An Arcade Racing Game Worth Trying by Agnese Carluccio appeared first on Wccftech.

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