Kartrider: Drift Preview – Chasing Mario Kart

Kartrider: Drift is Nexon’s answer to Mario Kart, Nintendo’s uncontested leader of the kart racer genre. However, this would be belittling the legacy of Crazyracing Kartrider, the 2004 game that kickstarted what we can now rightfully call a full-fledged franchise. The colossal success in Korea and China prompted the studio to take the series to the next stage, with a global release that spares no expenses.

A quick look at Kartrider: Drift’s bullet points shows some intriguing ambition and the determination to go against some of the current tendencies. A PC and Xbox One cross-platform game running on Unreal Engine 4, with no mobile version in sight? To some extent, that is daring in our times. The disappointing lack of a fun free-to-play racing game with high production values also reinforces the notion that Kartrider: Drift may be here to fill that void.

Kartrider Drift Preview Ramp

All is Fair in Kart Racing | Kartrider: Drift Preview

The first Kartrider: Drift closed beta revealed a surprisingly player-friendly game with no cash shop in sight. This will surely make an appearance later, as any game with a free-to-play business model needs to be sustainable, but right now it was nice to browse the available customization options without stumbling upon locked drivers or karts.

There were eight karts available during the beta, most of them based on their real counterparts, but three are animal themed. You have monkey, bunny, and tortoise karts, boasting a much more radical design that adds some interesting diversity to the selection. You can’t just rely on looks, however, as each kart is designed around four characteristics: speed, handling, drift, and boost. While a couple of vehicles seem to be slightly more balanced than the rest, there is no way that you can pick one of them and take the victory for granted.

Kart parts are bound to be a vital mechanic in Kartrider: Drift, with items that are predictably unlocked as you gain experience levels. You can customize your kart with your preferred pieces of different tiers, including the front, side, rear, wheels, and booster. These parts seem purely cosmetic for now, and let’s hope they stay that way. The other aspect of kart customization is a lick of paint, with a few preset spots that you can dye to your liking. In the future there will be custom wraps to add to the kart body, taking personal customization a step further.

Kartrider Drift Preview Drifting Items

Those karts won’t drive themselves, so you must pick a driver to embody your persona. The three measly characters aren’t likely to rock your world, and their design is probably going to be one of the more divisive points of the game – this is no Mario and friends for sure. Dao, the poster boy for the game, looks like an exile from Katamari Damacy, although his alternative baseball skin is a bit more agreeable. Bazzi is a boy wearing a teddy bear costume, and Brodi is a mysterious factory foreman. The graphics and animations are beyond criticism, but the cast lacks charisma, and there is a lot of room for improvement here. Nexon may not have a legacy to rival with Blizzard or Nintendo, but it could add a few guest drivers from some of its famous games, including but not limited to Dungeon Fighter Online, MapleStory, and Vindictus. Either that or add charming characters with a distinct identity that really stands out.

Racing is fun and frantic as it should be. Controls can make or break a game such as this one and thankfully Nexon has mostly nailed the feel of an arcade racer. It’s incredibly simple to drive and use the items, but you need to master the drifting mechanic if you want to reach the finish line ahead of the pack. It requires a delicate balance as you drift to fill your turbo meter, avoiding the track barriers by the skin of your teeth. The technique here is to start drifting as soon as you have triggered the turbo so that you keep that momentum going, but it’s easier said than done. You gain experience not just by winning races or placing on the top spots, you also earn points for actions such as drifting, passes, attacks landed, and attacks blocked. Take more than 10 seconds to finish the race after the winner and you’ll be retired, with your experience taking a hit in the process.

Kartrider Drift Preview Item Attack

Boosts are the central gimmick of the Speed mode, but Kartrider: Drift also comes with the Item mode. These are two separate experiences that you can play solo, in duos, or in squads, but you need to choose one mode over the other. Currently, there is no league mode of sorts to participate in, something that is sorely lacking but is certainly in the works. It is essential to give the game a long-lasting appeal because this kind of multiplayer racing may be fun, but it will only hold your attention for so long.

The Item mode makes the races look and feel akin to Mario Kart, as you randomly collect power-ups in certain locations of the track. You may get a useful booster, but there are quite a few attack and defense items as well. There is a shield to protect you from enemy attacks for a brief time, the mandatory banana to make the rival slip, barriers to make your chasers crash, a magnet to pull yourself closer to a driver in front of you, among others. The items add an element of surprise to the races and the winner isn’t always the best driver, but this mode surely boosts the fun factor in ways that the Speed mode isn’t capable of.

Currently there are nine tracks available, set in diverse environments including forests, glaciers, graveyards, and villages. The track design pulls all the punches in order to keep races frantic, with ramps, shortcuts, and long straight roads to make the most out of the turbo.

Kartrider Drift Preview Race Start

Kartrider: Drift makes good use of Unreal Engine 4, delivering some pleasant sights and colorful tracks. The lighting effects and reflections are top-notch, and the game conveys an accomplished cartoon mood capable of entertaining kids and adults alike.

The closed beta is a nice presentation card for Kartrider: Drift. The core mechanics are in place and it just needs more: more drivers, more tracks, more features to keep you coming back for another race. Nexon seems to be committed to its game and it might as well be – it may be no Mario Kart beater, but it sure is nice to welcome a serious contender to the genre.

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Fortnite PS4 is Getting Cross-Play with Xbox, Switch and More

At long last, the nonsense excuses that have kept PlayStation 4 cross-play from happening are crumbling like the house of cards they are. Sony Interactive Entertainment is ready to begin opening up its cross-platform options starting today with Fortnite.

playstation 4 cross-play

The news comes by way of a blog post from Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO John Kodera, who announces that the company “has identified a path toward supporting cross-platform features for select third party content” after what it calls a “comprehensive evaluation process.”

The first of these select third-party games will be Fortnite, which will be the focus of an open beta starting today. According to the post, the test will monitor the “technical and social” experience along with ensuring that “cross-platform play is best on PlayStation.” Whatever that means.

This beta allows Fortnite to be one of the first games to allow cross-platform play across PS4, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, and Mac.

“For 24 years, we have strived to deliver the best gaming experience to our fans by providing a uniquely PlayStation perspective,” writes Kodera. “Today, the communities around some games have evolved to the point where cross-platform experiences add significant value to players.”

Our Thoughts

FINALLY. If this opens up the floodgates for other multiplayer and MMO games to be played cross-platform, then this is a red-letter day indeed. Here’s to SIE knocking off its hand-wringing and letting people play together!

Source: PlayStation Blog

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PS4’s Better User Experience Cited as Reason for Fortnite Cross-Play Block

In what will likely go down as Sony’s silliest statement yet regarding the Fortnite cross-play block, the company’s CEO has gone on record as saying that the popular battle royale shooter is not widening its cross-platform reach because the PlayStation 4 provides a better user experience. Whatever that means.

fortnite cross-play block

Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida addressed the matter during the IFA Technology Show in Germany, explaining that the company believes the PlayStation 4 is an overall better platform for games such as Fortnite.

“Fortnite, I believe, partnered with PlayStation 4 is the best experience for users, that’s our belief. On cross-platform, our way of thinking is always that PlayStation is the best place to play. But actually, we already opened some games as cross-platform with PC and some others, so we decide based on what is the best user experience.”

As one would expect, the explanation has not drawn a lot of favorable reaction. Chief among those raising their voices against Sony’s line of thinking is Microsoft’s corporate vice president Mike Ybarra, who took to Twitter with his own take.

“All games should be cross play and progression with the right input flexibility and gamer options,” tweeted Ybarra. “Gaming is diverse, if you only serve to bring joy to part of an audience then you are behind in many, many ways.”

Our Thoughts

Seriously, this is a very confounding explanation. What, specifically, about the Sony/PS4 user experience makes it superior to other platforms? We suspect the answer is vaporous as the company is very likely pulling excuses out of a hat full of PR word salad.

Source: GamesIndustry

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Rocket League Plans 2018 Cross-Platform Party Release

We already know that Rocket League would very much like to have everyone play together, but it would seem that the devs at Psyonix are already hard at work on making Rocket League cross-platform party features happen. At least, if an answer from the game’s support staff is any indicator.

rocket league cross-platform party

A player reached out to Rocket League Help on Twitter asking about a possible release date for cross-platform party play, as that person would like to join their friend on the PS4. According to the answer from support, players can expect the feature sometime this year.

For the time being, Rocket League only allows cross-platform play through the use of private match invites instead of letting players form open match parties. Additionally, voice chat is only available either exclusively on the player’s chosen platform or through some means of third-party voice chat like Discord.

As for the immediate future of Rocket League, the game’s fifth season of esports has been granted a start date for sign-ups of Tuesday, January 23rd. The prize pools for both the RLCS and the Rival Series are also being raised this year, with a total of $500k up for grabs at this year’s RLCS and $50k for the Rival Series. Those interested are invited to learn more about other important dates on either the game’s standard website or its newly-opened esports website.

Our Thoughts

“A 2018 release” isn’t an awful lot of information, of course, but we at least know that there’s work being done to let players come together for a match or three in Rocket League soon. We anticipate further details on this cross-platform party features to be announced in a more impactful manner once development is further along.

Sources: Twitter via PCGamesN, official site

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XB1 and PS4 Players of Fortnite Experience Cross-Platform Play

New reports from the ongoing early access period seem to suggest that Fortnite cross-platform play was allowed between players on the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One in the newly-released Battle Royale mode. Whether this is intentional or accidental, however, is anyone’s guess.

fortnite cross-platform

The accounts come from several players on the game’s subreddit, where players of the test build of Fortnite’s new mode reported seeing user names with spaces in them; something that’s possible with Xbox Live Battletags but not possible with PSN account names. There are multiple examples of the phenomenon happening being shared across the subreddit.

Another user even went so far as to take the above photo, where it appears that the PS4-playing redditor was able to stand back-to-back in-game with his son, who plays on Xbox One. Additionally, players are stating that searches were performed on discovered usernames just in case they were running into PC players.

As of this writing, there is no official word from Epic Games, Sony, or Microsoft about whether this was an intentional feature or if both console makers finally realized platform restrictions in online gaming is very, very stupid.

Our Thoughts

If that last sentence didn’t make it clear, allow me to repeat: blocking players from one another in a game that’s released on multiple platforms just because they didn’t spend money on your TV gaming machine is dumb. Knock it off.

Sources: Fortnite Subreddit 1, 2, 3, 4

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