Although western audiences may only have heard of the free to play KartRider when it was announced to be coming to Xbox One as KartRider: Drift — a fresh update that is also coming to PC — the original KartRider was released in 2004 and has been a massive success story in South Korea, China and Taiwan.
I jumped into my kart to check out the closed beta for KartRider: Drift on PC over the weekend and discovered that the ten-year-long player base is most likely going to be ready to kick anyone’s ass, even Xbox One players thanks to crossplay.
The first time I played KartRider: Drift it was at 11:30 PM and the player base seemed to be mostly be experienced PC players that were happy to leave me in last place with my training wheels spinning.
The skill-level needed to play against seasoned players is completely antithetical to the games style and art design. The characters you can play as — three in this beta — all look like Chibi Dolls. The courses are very colourful and it’s easy to assume you’re playing ‘babies first kart racer’ until you start crashing into corners and failing to drift correctly.
Feeling that a more Mario Kart-lite mode would be the way to start the game I joined several matches in Item Mode first. Its typical kart racer stuff with random boxes on the course that can give you offensive weapons, boosts, shields and even a catch-me-up like the blue-shell in Mario Kart. You can collect two items at a time to spam quickly, and learning how to shield on time was quickly the most effective way to stay in first. It’s not as flashy or animated as Mario Kart is, but the karts feel fast and they handle well once you get the hang of them.
I did manage some decent placements thanks to playing in the team mode and my teammates’ positions helping me grab some easy wins.