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Shift to Drift
Drifting events become available in tier 2 of Need for Speed: Shift. Those who have played arcade racers in the past will probably fly head-first into these events, and then into a wall a short time thereafter. Drifting in Shift is not an easy thing to do. It requires skills which are completely different than those which are used in the normal racing mode. This brief guide will help new drifters get on their feet.
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Go Easy on Yourself
There is very little about the normal racing mode of Shift which carries over to the Drift challenges. As a race driver, I typically play Shift with all the assists off. I find it to be a more fun and engaging experience. When I dove into drifting, however, I found that getting a handle on things with the difficulty settings I was used to was impossible. It can take some soothing of the ego, but I highly suggest that new drifters switch the driving model to a less difficult mode. Keep the braking assists off, but the other assists should be on.
You can also smooth your first steps as a drifter by picking a relatively easy tier 1 car, like a 350Z or RX-8, and going into quick drift mode. Quick drift mode is a much better playground for learning to drift than the first drift challenges.
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Performing Your First Drift
The first thing you must get used to is the lack of traction drift cars have. Although you've made no modifications to your car, cars in drift mode are automatically fitted with super-slick drift tires. If you stomp on the pedal, you're going to go all over the place. When the green is given, accelerate smoothly. Remember, this isn't a race.
Approach the first turn at the pace your normally would when racing, but don't stomp on the brakes. Go in wide and a little too fast, then turn in while applying moderate throttle. The back end will begin to slide. Let it slide, but only slightly. Control the slide with the throttle and the wheel and hold it until you're at the other end of the turn. Then accelerate smoothly down the next straight.
Did you spin out? Don't worry. You'll likely spin out your first few times. The reason for this is that unlike in race mode, steering in drift mode is as much about the throttle as it is about the steering wheel. Making constant course corrections during a turn in drift mode isn't a good idea. Instead, press down the throttle to keep the drift going. If the car is beginning to turn too sharply, let off the throttle. But be gentle! If you lift off too much the car will likely straight out, ending the drift. If you reapply the throttle and do so too quickly, the car will spin, ending the drift. Drifting is about balance. Find the point of the throttle which keeps the car moving smoothly around the corner and you'll do fine.
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This simple form of turn-in drifting is the easiest way to drift, and it is good enough to win most of the drift events in the game. However, more advanced drifters will want to begin using the hand-brake.
The handbrake starts a drift by suddenly locking the tires, allowing the rear to slide violently around. In normal driving this is a terrible result, but in a drift car it is exactly what you want. It is the perfect way to start a high-speed drift.
The key, however, is "high-speed". Handbrake drifting requires bravery. Trying to use the hand-brake if you're at too low of a speed is simply going to result in the car losing its momentum. Handbrake drifting requires that a turn be entered too quickly or be taken too sharply. And then it requires masterful execution of the throttle skills which you learned with basic turn-in drifting. When the car goes sideways there is no time to hesitate. The throttle must be applied quickly so that the sideways momentum created by the handbrake can be used to greatest effect.
Advanced drifting of this kind can take a very long time to learn, but it pays off. Need for Speed: Shift judges drifts on speed and angle, and handbrake drifting is a high-speed form of drifting in which a car is kept at a radical angle. If beating friends is important, handbrake drifting is the way to go.
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These are the basics. They will help you get started drifting, but there is ultimately no substitute for practice. It took me a good thirty minutes before I could drift well enough to win the basic drifting challenges, and I was well into the game before I could use the handbrake with any degree of precision. Your results may be better, but remember that drifting is about being gentle with the throttle. Its easy to become frustrated, and frustration will give you a lead foot, resulting in yet more problems. Keep calm, stay determined, and you'll be drifting with the best of them.