Let’s talk about Drift21

I don’t normally play drift games, but since I’m trying out new software, I thought I would give them a go. I went to the Steam store and looked at the most popular games with “drift” in the title. Popularity is the average number of people playing per day. Here’s what I found.

Title Popularity Price Two Words
CarX Drift Racing 378 14.99 External view
Drift21 93 24.99 Brake broken
High Octane Drift 47 0 Keyboard only
RDS 30 17.99 One controller
Torque Drift 18 14.99 No wheel
Furidashi 8 14.99 External view
Drift of the Hill 4 1.99 No wheel
Peak Angle Drift 3 7.99 One controller

Of these 8 games, I could only play Drift21. By play I mean that I could plug in my wheel and pedals and drive in first person view. Some games were keyboard only. Others could only support one controller at a time (i.e. wheel or pedals but not both). Others had external view only. I’ve seen phone apps that were better. In fact, I’ll bet some of these were phone apps converted to PC. So what was going to be a drift games shootout became a review of just Drift21…

Drift21

Drift21 was previously called Drift19. But apparently they didn’t get their shit together enough to release it in 2019 so it became Drift21 (with a 1.0 release sometime in 2021?). Here’s what Drift21 says about itself on its website.

DRIFT21 is a fully immersive drifting simulation – with real licensed cars and tracks – featuring different drifting styles: power drift, handbrake and clutch kick. Build your dream drift car, change parts, boost performance and show your skills on Japan’s legendary EBISU circuits!

Early Access

It should be noted that Drift21 is currently in Early Access status on Steam. What exactly is Early Access?

This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development.

I’ve purchased a bunch of games in Early Access before. For example, I purchased DiRT Rally that way. While Early Access is a bit of a warning sign for something that might become abandonware, I’ve had good success with them so far.

Setup

The menu system was designed usefully enough, however I could not fully configure my controls. My brake pedal didn’t register any input until I was pushing so hard my muscles were straining. While there are sliders to adjust control sensitivity, they didn’t really work. As a result, I had to drive around without braking. Hopefully they fix this at some point or they will lose all the players with load cells.

Play

The physics and force feedback are not just unconvincing but annoying. Maybe all of their customers use hand controllers and don’t care. For those of us with wheels and pedals, it doesn’t feel even remotely authentic.

The graphics and sound are okay. While I’ve never been to any of the Ebisu circuits, they look pretty realistic to me. I think the graphics is one of the stronger parts of the game. If they can fix the controls and physics, this might be fun.

Thank goodness for Steam refunds

If you play a game for under 2 hours and own it for under 2 weeks, it’s pretty easy to get a refund. Just go to the Support tab in the game’s home page to start the process. It usually takes about 24 hours for the money to go back into your wallet. Thank goodness, because that means I didn’t have to spend any money on any of the games I tried, including Drift21.

Best sim for drifting?

Assetto Corsa. That’s probably the best platform for drifting right now. There are tons of great drift tracks and cars available for free, and the physics are pretty convincing. Personally, I like drifting the NA Miata. The low power means you have to transfer weight to initiate the drift and maintaining the drift requires an aggressive but nuanced throttle pedal. You can frequently get Assetto Corsa on sale for $10, which is a bargain, especially when compared to the $25 they’re asking for Drift21. But as I’ve said before, AC and Logitech don’t work all that well together. If you want to drift, you should probably invest in a high end Thrustmaster wheel or something with direct drive.

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