Technically speaking, a car is drifting when the “slip angle” (the angle between where the tire is pointing and the direction of movement) of the rear wheels is greater than the slip angle of the front tires. In other words, the car is in a controlled slide where the rear wheels have lost traction, and the front wheels are pointing towards the direction of movement.
Put more simply: drifting is the art of sliding sideways.
There is some debate about the origins of drifting, but it was popularized in the 1970s by the likes of Kunimitsu Takahashi, who is called the “Father of drifting.”
There are actually several ways to execute a drift in real life, all varying in difficulty, and all requiring a pretty intense amount of practice. Absolute Drift: Zen Edition uses an approximated physics model — but it will still take some practice to master!
So, let’s talk about how drifting works in the game.
Approach the curve
You’ll need to approach each curve with just enough speed to enable the car to lose traction as you turn — but not so much speed that you’ll lose control! I recommend that at first, it’s best to go easy on the accelerator.
Try approaching the turn right in the middle of the road at first:
Approach the curve from the center of the road
Just before you enter the curve, tap the handbrake button for a moment as you gently turn into the curve. This should put the car into a spin as the rear wheels lose grip.
Tap handbrake just before the curve. Red arrows indicate tire direction
Counter-steer and accelerate
As you move through the curve, you’ll need to “counter-steer” the car by turning away from the curve — otherwise the angular momentum will cause the car to spin out. For starters, try to keep the car pointed at the inside edge of the track as you round the turn — and keep the accelerator applied to push the car through the turn.
Accelerate through the curve, continuing to counter-steer to re-align the car.
Those are the basics! It may sound simple, but getting everything just right for the perfect drift will take practice.
After you’ve mastered the basics, here are a few advanced things to try:
- Try turning off “steering assist” in the game settings, for the ultimate control over your car
- Try medium and hard mode. These settings affect the acceleration of the car, which makes it more difficult to control — but also helps with longer drifts.
- Try drifting without the handbrake — instead relying on your speed and turning to help throw the car into a drift. It takes a little practice, but many advanced players prefer this method
- Experiment with more and less tight drifts. Sometimes you’ll want to drift along the outer wall to get a clipping point.
- Use your tire tracks as a guide! Learn from the mistakes you made the last time around the track, and adjust your tactics to perfect your technique.
- Turn on the “World’s best” option for ghosts in drift tracks, and learn from the best player in the world on each track. This is a great way to learn advanced techniques!
- Scoring: Your score and multiplier go up faster the more extreme your drift angle is, and the faster you’re moving. The same is true for clipping point scoring. So, learn to take big risks for big rewards!
And there you have it. Hopefully these tips will help you hit the ground running (Sliding!) when the game launches August 16.