Like Dreamlight Valley, Disney Speedstorm will eventually be free-to-play. But right now you can gain early access by buying a Founder’s Pack.
Three Founders Packs are available, each one offering more characters unlocked from the outset plus additional extras such as skins and currency. But even if you opt for the cheapest one, priced at £24.99, chances are you’ll get a lot out of Disney Speedstorm, especially if you’re a fan of a chunky single-player campaign.
Split into six chapters, Disney Speedstorm‘s initial Starter Course campaign lets you go hands-on with a varied selection of the game’s racers whether you have them unlocked or not. You’ll begin by playing as Mickey Mouse, getting to grips with the game’s systems, though there’s nothing really out of the ordinary here when it comes to kart racers. The right trigger allows you to accelerate, the left trigger allows you to drift, and you also have buttons for boosting and unleashing whichever skill you currently have in your possession.
There are some things about Disney Speedstorm that make its racing action stand out, though. Skills can be charged, for example, tweaking their effects in numerous ways. Charge a boost pickup, for example, and what is normally one single lengthy boost will turn into three smaller boosts. You’re also free to jump on command, allowing you to make use of nifty shortcuts and avoid hazards. Rails can even be grinded, Tony Hawk’s style, to gain the advantage.
Making your way through the Starter Course campaign, competing in one event after another, there are multiple objectives to complete in each race, but to progress you simply need to get a podium finish. Your efforts are rewarded with credits, and frequent caches containing upgrade parts, character shards and more. There are even guest events, allowing you to go hands-on with characters you don’t own with upgraded stats, keeping the action feeling fresh. You can replay these events as often as you like, too.
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In any case, you’ll need to play through at least some of Disney Speedstorm‘s campaign to unlock all of its modes and features. These include a crew system that allows you to gain stat boosts, and more, by unlocking and assigning support characters, limited time events, ranked and regulated online multiplayer matches, and even new campaign that will change with each in-game season, offering greater rewards. Whether you prefer playing online or against the CPU, developer Gameloft has something here to keep you coming back in the long term.
But one thing about Disney Speedstorm gives us concern. Right now microtransactions are disabled, with the various currencies and items required to upgrade racers only earnable by playing the game. If you ever can buy them though, then it may begin to feel like pay-to-win rather than free-to-play, with each racer level up providing a boost a stats, and racer star ranks granting access to new and improved skills and more. Throw in a battle pass system, and you have a game that could prove to be costly for some.
Still, while Disney Speedstorm already feels much more like a traditional free-to-play full of microtransactions than the wonderful Dreamlight Valley, there’s plenty of fun to be had with it without spending anything beyond what’s required for a Founders Pack right now. And if you dig into its campaigns and limited time events, you can plunder plenty of the upgrade parts required to level up your favourite racer and give them a decent boost.
While the action starts out a little slow, once you’ve got some upgrades under your belt the pace soon picks up. Also, the skills on offer here, some of which are unique to each racer, keep the action tense and unpredictable. Other racers aren’t afraid of making contact and trying to take you out. And while sometimes you feel cheated, it mostly feels fair. Every racer falls into one of numerous types as well, so whether you prefer to focus on racing or battling, you’ll find one that suits your style.
With Disney Speedstorm technically still in early access, there’s much that could change between now and its full release, which may potentially be as late as next year. Already it feels polished though: this is quite possibly the best-looking kart racing game available right now – and it has a brilliant soundtrack. Factor in its fun racing mechanics, and we reckon both Disney and kart racing fans won’t be disappointed by what it has to offer. But as ever, its potential microtransaction-laden future may be a concern.
Disney Speedstorm is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.