We were recently invited once again to the KartRider: Drift closed beta on Xbox One. For our thoughts on the first beta please click here.
The same three modes from the first beta were present once again, along with a whopping 16 tracks to race on. For a beta, that is a huge number and may well indicate there are more to be added for the final release.
The tracks were split across five different locations: Desert, Glacier, Graveyard, Village and Forest. As well as their own look and feel, I also noticed how each location had their own unique power-up crate. These crates were very in keeping with their surroundings, such as pumpkins in the Graveyard races, for example. Don’t worry, they’re not too scary and don’t feel out of place; they are still very much in keeping with a very cartoony world with cute characters: KartRider: Drift is super family-friendly.
Each track also has a star rating out of five. These weren’t to show how popular each track was, but instead were to indicate the difficulty. In the beta there were plenty of one- and two-star tracks to ease players into the game, with only two out of the sixteen being four-star tracks, and no five-star tracks. Only in Time Attack are you able to pick the track you want to try; in the other online modes it appears to be random but the higher difficulty ones also look to pop up less frequently.
Item and Speed Race are the online modes that can be competed in in a variety of ways: Solo, Duos (2v2v2v2) and Squad (4v4). You can choose which mode you would prefer, and your way to play it. This menu is slightly confusing at first, but once your selections have been made you don’t need to make them again, unless you change your mind.
Even during the beta it wasn’t long before a match was found, and one of the reasons for that is that KartRider: Drift will have crossplay across PC and Xbox, meaning more players to populate servers.
One area that was made a lot clearer in the recent second beta – as opposed to what was present first time around – was how the Racing Pass will work. Similar to those used in Fortnite and PUBG, it will cover two tracks of rewards – the Free Lane and the Premium Lane. Both were available during the beta, but when KartRider: Drift launches properly – we are still awaiting a release date – the Premium Lane will require a purchase. How long the seasons will last and how much it will cost is again still to be determined.
To earn the rewards though, you need to collect trophies. Thankfully these aren’t just limited to those winning races, as there are several ways to earn them. Collect ten and you will move onto the next rank. One method of earning trophies is by completing the daily challenges; these are generous enough that you will slowly rank up through these alone.
For those that unlock the Premium Lane, you will also have access to Premium Challenges. These are slightly more ‘challenging’, but the rewards are worth it by gifting more trophies. And, unlike the daily challenges, these reset weekly.
Rewards in both lanes are a mix of character skins, emotes and plenty of other customisation items for your karts – maybe even new chassis entirely.
One thing that did cause a concern during the beta was the use of drifting. It is apparent that drifting exists – hence the title of the game – but it isn’t made obvious when you or anyone else is drifting around a corner. Other karting games would include an aural or visual key such as smoke from tyres or screeching noises, but as it currently stands KartRider has nothing. Challenges exist for performing drifts and they were ticking up, so I must have been performing drifts, but it was not obvious. Bear in mind though, this is still in beta form so I’d expect things like that to be ironed out.
We still don’t know any further details for KartRider: Drift on Xbox One at this stage, such as release date or price of the Racing Pass, but what we do know is that it will be free to play. And that is something that puts it over the other kart racers on the market. But it also shares a lot of similarities with its competitors, including cutesy cartoony graphics, power-ups and a fair amount of customisation. Whether or not it has enough potential to shine above them remains to be seen – though the free-to-play ability is a massive tick, along with crossplay. Signs are certainly positive it can stand toe-to-toe with the best of the best.