Kartrider Drift Guide – top 10 racing tips for beta beginners

After many years of being a Korean gaming mainstay, KartRider is now being unleashed worldwide in 2020. The kart racing sensation has finally come west with KartRider: Drift coming to Xbox One and PC later this year.

With a second closed beta currently under way, we’ve compiled some helpful tips to help you shake off those training wheels on your way to becoming a KartRider champ.

In the meantime, for those wanting their KartRider fix now, you can download and play the latest mobile entry in the franchise, KartRider: Rush+ which scored an impressive 8/10 in our review.

Training School

It goes without saying that Drift’s tutorials should not be skipped. Make sure you play through each lesson, including those in the intermediate bracket. These will teach you how to best utilise each item while familiarizing you with the game’s drift mechanics.

Instant Boosts

There are a few instances in which you can gain a small speed boost though these require accurate timing. Instant Boosts are triggered when hitting accelerate when the “Go!” prompt appears at the beginning of each race, when coming out of a drift, or as soon as you hit the ground after being hit by a Water or Missile items.

Practice drifting

Drifting is absolutely key if you want to get anywhere in Speed Race events. Not only does it charge your boost, it can be used to smoothly navigate bends and tight corners. When turning a corner, hitting the drift button and make sure you are steering hard enough – sometimes you need to push the drift and direction buttons multiple depending on the angle.

Read the map

At first you’ll learn to simply scan the road ahead during a race. However, you should be taking careful note of the minimap found on the right side of the screen, especially for Speed Races. You’ll find that most tracks have shortcuts, some riskier than others though all of them extremely useful in closing the distance or extending your lead.

Don’t ignore Time Attack

Even if you aren’t interested in posting times you’ll still want to dive into KartRider’s Time Attack. Next to the Training School it’s by far your most valuable practice tool, giving you the keys to each of the game’s tracks without having to worry about other players bumping into your kart. You should try attempting the tracks with a higher star rating as this will equip you in handling those tricky road layouts you’re bound to encounter eventually.

Racing Pass

Like many online multiplayer games, KartRider: Drift offers a “pass” style progression system. This is independent of your career rank, represented by a bar which fills as you play. The more it grows the more rewards you’ll pick up along the way though this progress bar will reset with each new season. The easiest way to earn trophies and level your Racing Pass is to complete the clutch of daily challenges available.

Item Basics

KartRider: Drift features a decent spread of weapons, hazards, and buffs that can be used during Item Races. Here’s a description of each one – just remember that some of these can be wasted if you are not in range of a target.

  • Water Wisp: traps target in bubble
  • Water Bomb: creates bubble area, trapping all karts caught inside
  • Magnet: slows target, quickly dragging you towards them
  • Missile: blasts target into the air
  • Seeker Missile: blasts first place racer into the air
  • UFO: slows first place racer (can also be used to counter incoming UFO)
  • Shield: temporarily protects from incoming attacks
  • Angel Armour: temporarily protects all team members from incoming attacks
  • Banana: slows and spins out racer when hit
  • Barricade: creates three hazards that break when hit by racer
  • Cloud cover: obscures track with fog

Team Race Tactics

In Drift you can join the matchmaking queue as a solo racer, in a duo, or in a team of four. It’s important to remember that during duos or teams, the team colour that secures first place will win outright, regardless of other placements. As such, you need to keep an eye on your team mates during Item Races, knowing which opponents to target and when to use your Angel Armour.


Switching between characters and skins is purely for cosmetic purposes though karts come tagged with difference stats. You will see minor differences in acceleration, max speed, drift, and boost. It’s also worth taking note that some of them offer perk-like bonuses if selected for Item Races.

Item Swapping

It’s easy to forget that you can switch between two items being held at one time. However, this swap can only be used five times per race so make sure you spend these wisely as they can really help you pull ahead in that final lap.

For more on KartRider, read our recent interview with Nexon about KartRider: Rush+, the game’s esports scene, and a potential Nintendo Switch version.

Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualSense at this point.