The Disney Speedstorm closed beta is here! I was lucky enough to be one of the people invited to the closed beta and I’ve spent the last week playing a lot of it. You can check out my early impressions in the previous article but today I wanted to give you want I’ve experienced in the last week. Reminder, this is in closed beta so everything might change at the release of the game but I’m sure there will be some things that stay the same.
The game is a ton of fun and has a surprising amount of layers to it that I was not expecting. There is an adventure mode that has you complete races while also vying for certain objectives. This is the main way that you unlock more racers, gain xp, and gain items needed to level up characters. This mode would be your basic story mode in other games or your simple going through all of the cups in a game like Mario Kart. Then you have the limited time events. These come in many different varieties.
There are character specific events which require you to use certain characters usually from a certain movie franchise. There are specific tasks that you have to complete in a limited amount of races. Usually three tries is the max. Depending on how many tasks you are able to complete determines your reward. Another event type is the time trial. This is the one that I have been the most excited about. You get three tries to do a race for the best time. How you rank amongst everyone else determines your rewards. I love the time trial aspect. When Mario Kart DoubleDash was out, my sister and I had intense time trial battles to see who could reign supreme. We would look for any way to shave off even this smallest millisecond in order to gain the edge in time. I was so happy to see this in Speedstorm. One minor gripe I do have is that the time trial race is an actual race meaning you can get hit and stunned by items meaning that one of your three tries can get derails simply by bad luck. As I said, minor gripe because I don’t mind when there is luck involved in games.
There is also ranked online matches against other players on the weekends. I have dabbled into this a little but right now it is not very vibrant. With the closed beta only being on PC, the volume of people simply isn’t there. This means you are racing maybe two or three people of varying levels and it often leads to a very boring race. I’m not concerned about this at all as when the game fully launches the pool of people will increase and the races will be more exciting.
Let’s talk about the racers! Currently the racers you can play are: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swann, Mowgli, Baloo, Hercules, Meg, Mulan, Shang, Beast, and Belle. A nice lineup for a close beta. Each character has a certain class that they belong to which affects their stats. Some characters have a better top speed while others are better at handling or boosts. This gives you a lot of variety while racing and allows you to choose which racing style you like the the best. Racers can be leveled up through items and collecting character tokens. You can also equip crew members to them which is a fun wrinkle I didn’t expect. Crew members are other characters from the movie franchise that you can equip to give extra boosts to stats. This is a great way to see more characters without flooding the racing pool with racers that nobody wants to actually play as or simply don’t make sense. (I mean how does Lumiere drive with candles for hands?)
The actual racing is as chaotic and fun as you can imagine. Each track is beautiful even in closed beta and feels like it is right out of the Disney universe. One track from the events is a Steamboat Willie inspired track. At the start line, you burst into the movie screen and everything goes black and white like you just entered the cartoon. It was awesome. I loved it. And yes I squealed when it happened. Another thing I like about the tracks is that they are not linear meaning there isn’t just one path to take. Yes all paths lead to the same finish line but you can take two sometimes even three different routes on a track. Experimenting on which is faster or which gives you an additional skill (the items in the game) is fun and can give you a leg up in a race.
Each racer has four skills that they can get from the skill prisms (not sure what they are called but that’s what they look like). There are about six skills that exists and then each racer has a unique skill that is unlocked. This gives each racer a different feel as well and makes them feel more like the character. For example, Donald’s special surrounds him with a fury of fists that can stun enemies. One different aspect about the skills in this game that I love is that each item has two modes, regular and charged which can be deployed depending on how long you hold the button. This require situational awareness of which mode is going to be the best and I love that wrinkle.
I had to give the music it’s own paragraph. Saying the music is great is an insult. They downright nailed the music for the tracks. The way that they infuse Disney classics like Bare Necessities and the opening to Hercules with modern techno, futuristic music is flawless. The Hercules one especially is one that I get actively excited when I see that I will be racing on that track. It keeps the energy up during the race and fits the vibe of the game perfectly.
There is one aspect that I am undecided how I feel. Each race has eight racers and you never feel like you are out of the race no matter what position you are in. The good thing about this? No matter what is happening in the race you can easily go worst to first in no time with a couple of timely skills and some expert racing. The tracks are full of boosts and drifting around corners also gives you a little bit of juice so you can easily gain some ground. This prevents the rage quit or the simply not caring anymore because you are so far behind. You have time. The bad thing? Nothing has any stakes. You just nailed someone with a skill and stunned them. This should allow you to push ahead at least for a bit. Not so fast! That racer can easily come back and over take you in a manner of seconds. There are many other pros and cons to this but overall I like that everyone feels in the race and no one can get so far ahead that they can just coast to a victory. Even in first, you have to make sure you are watching your back and racing well or you might find yourself being passed.
If you are a Disney fan or a racing games fan, I highly recommend that you put this on your wishlist of games to get. The closed beta has been a blast and this is simply a taste of what is to come. There will be many changes and improvements that come out in the coming months. I’m going to keep grinding the beta and have a blast when the full version comes out some time this summer.
If you want to see some early gameplay, click here to view the past livestreams on Twitch and keep on the look out for more Disney, Marvel and Star Wars video games.