One of the best and most defining features of any Mario Kart game is the ability to race against your friends. Unfortunately for fans, it appears Nintendo's current priorities for its first mobile entry into the series are a little different, as Mario Kart Tour has officially been live for a few days now and there appears to be no way to race with your friends in the game.
So Far, Just Bots
When players start a race in Mario Kart Tour, they'll see their name displayed at the top of a screen followed by empty slots. Those slots soon fill up with other random usernames, each a unique mix of numbers and letters (and often Japanese characters), giving off the impression that you're racing against strangers who've also just so happened to log into the game and course at the same time as you. However, upon racing, you'll notice that despite these genuine-sounding usernames, these other racers appear way too conveniently and are far too easy to beat.
Multiple sources have claimed that these other racers are simply bots meant to look like real players. Regardless, it's still disappointing to see that the ability to race against your friends, something that has served as such a fun and vital component of past Mario Kart titles, is not available in its mobile form.
The Multiplayer Option
Users have noticed that there is a "multiplayer" option in the Mario Kart Tour menu; however, that option is currently grayed out. When players attempt to click on it, they encounter text explaining that the feature will be available in a future update. This multiplayer feature would hopefully give players the chance to race against both their own friends through linked Nintendo accounts as well as strangers also competing in the same races. This could come with a ranking system to see how players fare against both their peers and other online racers.
When Is It Coming?
Unfortunately, many details about this update, including its date, are unknown. It is also currently unclear if the multiplayer feature will be available for all players or only to people subscribed to the Gold Pass, a monthly $4.99 subscription that gives players access to special features.
Considering past Mario Kart games' appeal as a multiplayer game, it's surprising that Nintendo did not include this feature at launch. It's possible that this feature was meant to be included, but due to a hard summer release date, developers rushed the game out early with the promise that the multiplayer feature would be added in the future. For now, however, gamers will have to remain satisfied with racing against sub-par bots.
Mario Kart Tour is currently available for iOS and Android devices.