Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a solid remake of a classic PlayStation kart racer, topped off with an abundance of additional characters, tracks, and other welcome additions like cosmetic customisation. As a package it's impressively robust, but if there's one criticism we'd be quick to level at Nitro-Fueled, it's that the online multiplayer is rather underwhelming.
Don't get us wrong, you can spend hours and hours racing with friends or testing the skills of strangers, but the online multiplayer could still be a lot better than it currently is. As such, we've put together a list of seven improvements that we'd love to see happen.
Decrease the waiting time between races
This is probably our biggest peeve with playing Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled online. Simply put, it takes too long to actually get into a race. While matching up with other players is straightforward, the fact that you then have to wait roughly a minute for the timer to countdown seems unnecessary. Even when the next track has been decided and everyone's ready, you've still got a full 30 seconds before things kick off.
And by kick off, we mean jump straight into a loading screen that takes another 20 to 30 seconds or so, depending on the track. But the real kicker here is that some tracks in Nitro-Fueled are very short -- especially if you're up against an especially skilled player -- and so it feels like you sometimes spend as much time waiting for the race to begin as you do actually racing.
Surely the flow of multiplayer racing can be more efficient than this?
Anyone who's played more than a handful of online races in Nitro-Fueled has got to agree with us on this one. It's abundantly clear that players of vastly differing skill levels are constantly plopped into the same lobbies as one another, resulting in seriously lopsided races. It's not uncommon to see one experienced player run away with race after race after race while everyone else barely has enough time to finish three laps. Matchmaking is undeniably wonky.
Which leads us neatly into our third point...
There needs to be some kind of ranking system
It's a bit weird that Nitro-Fueled doesn't have any sort of ranking system when it comes to online multiplayer. There's no way to tell how good your opponents actually are at the game until you're tyre-to-tyre with them on the track. Look at just about any popular competitive multiplayer game on PS4 and you'll probably find that they have a way of tracking how experienced or skilled each and every player is -- so why isn't there something similar here?
How about levels? Titles? Ranks? If we had any of these, maybe we'd end up with better matchmaking as well, since there'd be a clear way to determine who should be racing who based on skill.
More Wumpa Coins for everyone
The Wumpa Coin system is needlessly convoluted, and definitely a bit stingy. As pointed out by our guide on the subject, you get Wumpa Coin bonuses for playing online, and you get even more for the first 30 minutes of online racing that your do per day. Now, we don't mind daily bonuses and stuff like that, but it gets to a point where playing beyond that first 30 minutes feels like a slog.
The amount of Wumpa Coins that you get per race is simply too low. Rarer characters, karts, and decals can be expensive, and saving for them often means that you'll be spending hours grinding through countless online races. Add dodgy matchmaking to the mix, and less experienced players are earning even fewer Wumpa Coins because they can't compete for the top spots. It's an unnecessarily brutal economy.
Fix the bugs
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a technically solid release, but hopping online does seem to unearth a number of annoying bugs. Graphical glitches aren't necessarily a problem -- we've all seen character models break and stretch into eternity, right? -- but a suite of smaller gameplay issues add up really quickly.
For one, the weapon lock on indicator often seems busted when playing online. A lot of the time, it won't show the proper distance between you and the incoming missile or warp orb, making it incredibly hard to judge the point of impact.
And then there are the connection bugs. There are times when the game doesn't seem to know how to deal with players who leave during a race, and so everyone else is replaced with computer controlled bots. We've been forced into races with bots before, but after beating them, we've been shown podiums made up of other players -- players who weren't even in our game to begin with. Weird.
All in all, things really need smoothed out online.
Give us online tournaments
It's a bit of a shame that Nitro-Fueled's online component doesn't feature a tournament mode. We're getting into more optimistic territory here, but the option to play multiple races, back to back, with other people, would be a great addition.
Anything can happen in a single race, but racking up points across four different tracks? May the best bandicoot win.
Let us bring a friend online with a split screen option
Yep, we know this one's wishful thinking, but we're sure that a lot of people would appreciate the option to play Nitro-Fueled online with a couch companion. Now, this is something that's probably a lot harder to implement than we'd like to think, but split screen multiplayer is such an integral part of any kart racer's DNA.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled already has great options when it comes to playing offline split screen, and so it'd be nice to see that concept make the jump online -- even if it's just two pals facing off against the world.
How would you improve Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled's online offering? Do you agree with our points? Rev up those engines in the comments section below.