Ridge Racer Driftopia – E3 Preview

Ridge Racer! The racing game that was a staple of many an arcade has been on every single PlayStation console to date. While there was no news of a new Ridge Racer on the upcoming PlayStation 4, Ridge Racer Driftopia was announced, and is unique in that it is going to be a free-to-play racer. So how does the free-to-play system work? Find out in our E3 preview.

Driftopia is completely free to play. You are given a number of cars from the start, fully ready to race. You can play as often as you like, unlike the free-to-play Tekken Revolution, which relies on a coin system and may require you to stop from time to time if you don’t want to spend some money. The way Namco Bandai hopes to make money is in the repair system. Much like many free-to-play racers on mobile platforms, if you damage your car in a race, the damage is persistent from race to race. The only way to repair your car is to use a repair kit, which are automatically added to your inventory over time. Of course, if you have to use too many within a short period, you are given the option to buy one or a pack of the repair kits. Otherwise, you simply have to wait an unspecified amount of time so that your account will automatically generate a free repair kit.

While many of us will be able to wait for a repair kit to generate, others may not be so patient. That is when things get interesting. Should you choose to not repair your car, it can actually get damaged enough to explode. The car will then be lost forever. So there is a risk-and-reward system in place as well. Do you shell out a couple bucks to continue playing without hazard? Or do you try to keep going and not hit anything on your way to victory? For many this will be a complete turnoff – this isn’t the F2P style of games like Dust 514 or PlanetSide 2 where most purchases are cosmetic, this is a deep rooted constriction of the gameplay itself.

So all of that free-to-play business is new to the series. But what about the game itself? While we were unable to get our hands on the preview we were shown, what we saw told us that the game plays more or less like the Ridge Racers in the past. There’s moderately-detailed cars, fantasy tracks, a booming soundtrack, and of course, over-the-top, car-sideways-on-a-straightaway as is typical of this game series. Just be careful on those turns from now on!

Ridge Racer Driftopia is coming your way on the PlayStation Network and Steam sometime this year (no specific timeframe was given), and will be completely free at launch. Until you crash.