Mario Kart Tour Online Multiplayer: How To Play With Friends
Kart against bots, but not your friends.
Mario Kart Tour is available now, with Nintendo releasing this mobile adaptation of its classic racing franchise on both iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android devices. But its multiplayer options can be more than a bit confusing, as it's actually (at present) a single-player experience. But when you dive in, you'll likely have many questions: Can you add friends? Can you play with your friends? Why aren't those the same thing? Aren't you already playing multiplayer anyway? The game itself is fairly unclear in explaining who exactly you're playing against, but we've nailed down the specifics regarding multiplayer--or, as it turns out, the lack thereof. Here's what you need to know.
For starters, you are able to add friends. That option can be found in the Friends section of the main menu, and it will pull suggestions from your Nintendo, Facebook, or Twitter accounts if you link them to the game. However, this feature is limited to comparing your rankings against friends. You can't play against them, and a "Multiplayer" feature is grayed out in the main menu with a promise that it is "Inbound!"
Is It Multiplayer?
Compounding the confusion is the fact that the game is online-only, and you appear to be playing multiplayer against strangers all the time. But Nintendo has confirmed to GameSpot that it only has single-player features at launch, so your opponents are actually bots with player-like usernames. Regardless, you cannot pause races, and the game performs a network check upon starting a race as if it's seeking online opponents. Nintendo declined to comment on when multiplayer is coming.
Playing Against Friends
There is one way to compete with your friends, albeit indirectly. Once you open up Ranked Cups--the first of which is the Koopa Troopa Cup, the fourth available Cup--you'll be racing to achieve a ranked score against random opponents. That score entitles you to extra rewards like bonus rubies or coins after the week-long scoring period. The ranked score menu has a Friends tab, where you can compare your score to your friends. That appears to be the only way to compete with friends for the time being.
Mario Kart Tour's first event is live now, offering Pauline from her revival in Super Mario Odyssey and Musician Mario as bonus characters. It's free-to-play, but the monetization hooks are surprisingly aggressive, implementing both gacha mechanics and a Battle Pass-like subscription.