Back in April 2023, Disney’s Speedstorm launched into early access and thanks to the publisher, we were provided a PS5 code for the game which I ended up reviewing. You can check out my review for when the game initially launched into Early Access here. In my initial thoughts to the game, it was very well crafted from the gameplay, to the different characters and racetracks. However, ever since the launch of Season 3, and even throughout the tail end of Season 2, my thoughts began to shift on it. Now that it is going free to play, it actually is a completely different game than when it started… and honestly I feel it being less F2P, and more like pay to win.
In terms of the music and art in the game, it is still fantastic quality like the beginning of the early access time. There have been some music changes that are mostly positive but it is still probably one of the highlights in the game. In terms of the voice acting within the game, this is an absolute knockout with many of the original actors coming back for this game and the ones that are different sound pretty good compared to the original movies or shows. These three aspects have been solid and consistent throughout and I am glad that this quality hasn’t dropped. One disappointment that I do have is I wish that there was more than one track for each season. There are multiple varieties of the same map and that is nice; but they do get a bit old after a while in my opinion. For example, I wish the Toy Story season had an Andy’s Room track and something like an AL’s Toy Barn map, even if it was a mid-season update.
Most of this game, you are either playing with other players in races or you are playing with AI bots in single player races and online. I am first going to talk about the content that doesn’t require you to play with other players. One thing is you use to get a total of 180XP for the daily missions, but they increased it to 600XP for the daily missions if you finish all of them. That is a massive positive in my opinion but the reason why they did this was to entice people into playing the game on a daily basis. Secondly, the season tour, which is the single player content, has been mostly unchanged except for what appears to be a reduction in rewards from each week. The third aspect is the overall rewards from the Battle Pass seem to have less of an impact compared to the first season including the number of rewards you might get to upgrade all of the racers in said season. Fourthly, they increased the difficulty of the AI racers and made them much more aggressive both online and offline as well which makes playing the limited events, daily missions, and just the game in general more of a slog and less fun.
Another massive change is the way in which the shop is done. Now, you can get a daily box that has a smaller amount of rewards that can be obtained from a random universal box that costs 10,000 coins. This is a nice plus, but with that comes a massive minus. Before, you could not open normal season boxes without having a season token with you but now you can use 500 blue tokens to open one. The problem here though is the blue tokens cost real money and 530 tokens cost $5 USD. That is more than half the cost of a season (gold) pass. This means that if someone wanted to, they could pull as many boxes as they want to in order to get a potential unfair advantage while playing online; which makes it more like a pay to win mechanic in my opinion. Also, you can use blue tokens to purchase coins so you can open universal boxes to get an unfair advantage with non-season based characters.
Now, here comes the online aspect… and this is not any better. Besides the new pay-to-win potential that could be exploited by players, there are many other issues here. There are regulated and non-regulated options. Regulated means that all characters are locked to the same level and you can get rewards on a weekly basis that focus on a specific character. Problem here though is when Season 3 started, they screwed the regulated multiplayer by reducing the number of character tokens you could get from ten (10) per week to a measly three (3). In my opinion, this kind of increases a massive grind to get character tokens and entices more shop purchases to potentially get higher characters. Now there is also non-regulated and this was also a problem.
First off, after the end of each season, they drop your characters rank by approximately five levels and you are unable to re-obtain any rewards from previous ranks you got in the past. This makes the grind fest online harder to unlock characters. It makes it a massive grind fest and with the changes already mentioned about the shop, this will be a pay to win game for players who want to play with others. There are even more issues with online such as if you are racing with only one other player and a few bots, you will lose points if you do not beat that one other player as beating bots online does not count for points. Why are bots even there if they do not count, especially with how aggressive they are? I found out that they basically fixed this in Season 4 based on their patch notes, which is a good thing but still annoyed it was there for seasons one through three during the time it wasn’t a free game. There are also problems with character balancing, multiple annoying bugs, and even more issues online that it just isn’t that fun.
All in all, I still have a season pass for Season 4, but I am not going to be playing it. Not because of the character choices they made as I like the Aladdin theme and the bonus characters that have been announced for mid-season racers. Rather it is because of all the monetization tactics that they are pushing on the player trying to bleed them into purchasing things. I knew there would be microtransactions as it is a live service game and I even said in my review there would be some later on, but I definitely didn’t think it would be this bad or aggressive. They have also taken away all the fun in terms of racing online since the ranking system is also entirely messed up; regarding both regulated and non regulated (again slightly fixed online per patch notes now). Gameloft had something that could have worked as a $30 dollar entry fee and then either as a $10 per season pass or you could get enough tokens playing in the game to unlock the next season. I am not sure how long this game will last as a free to play title with this bad of a microtransaction setup. Plus, this game is going to mobile now when originally it was never slated for phones. Enough said. Goodbye Disney’s Speedstorm, it was fun while it lasted but I think it’s time we part ways.
The game originally scored from me a 8.5/10 but now if I had to score it in this state, I don’t think I could score it better than a 6/10.