Milestone has really stepped up its game with RIDE 4.
Previous RIDE games have been good, if not great. But with next-generation consoles just around the corner, you get the impression that Milestone has pulled out all the stops to make the latest entry in the series truly shine. First it’s the visuals that impress, at least on Xbox One X. There’s a clear jump up from RIDE 3 when it comes to the detail painstakingly put into the game’s 100-plus bikes.
Made from the ground up using higher quality assets than ever before, the vehicles of RIDE 4 will excite fans of bikes just like Gran Turismo does for car nerds. Even better, you can customise them too, eking out more performance from them and changing how they look. There’s even an in-depth livery editor. And so the bikes don’t look out of place, the game’s 30-odd tracks have been put together with the utmost of attention using drone and laser scanning. To lay eyes on RIDE 4 is a treat, and with a free next-gen upgrade on the way for those who buy the game on PS4 or Xbox One, it’s only going to get better.
Thankfully, RIDE 4‘s beauty isn’t just skin-deep, either. Once you’ve finally created your custom rider, to the track you go, and you’ll soon discover that it handles better then ever before. As usual, there are a wide range of assists and difficulty options, making RIDE 4 as accessible as can be. It is still a tricky beast, even with some of the settings dialled back, however; driving on two wheels is much more challenging than four. Unless you’re familiar with bike-racing games, expect to see your rider fall off many times before you start nailing apexes without any thought. There’s a rewind feature that helps a great deal though.
Career mode is RIDE 4‘s premier offering, serving up an experience closer to Gran Turismo than ever. You’ll begin by selecting a regional league to take part in, before making your way up to the world league. Prove your prowess in that, and you’ll then be able to take on RIDE 4‘s final leagues which are a true test of skill. Along the way, you’ll have to acquire licences to progress, and earn money to buy the bikes required to compete in the varied events. In addition to standard races, you’ll be completing time attack events and more, keeping you on your toes.
It’s the act of earning the licences required to progress through the game’s career that might trip some players up though. While the AI of your competitors can be lowered to make races suitable for all skill levels, when competing in time trials and other events where you’re against the clock, primarily found in licence tests, there’s no such crutch to be found. If you’re picking up RIDE 4, then eventually you’re just going to have to get good to succeed. But for most it shouldn’t be much of an issue as it’s extremely rewarding to play. It should also be noted that the game’s career is huge. There’s a massive number of events to complete, and those who choose to master them will often find themselves rewarded with free bikes.
Outside of career mode, quick race offers up the chance to set up either a race, time trial or endurance event with any of the bikes you own. You can also loan bikes from the dealership. Endurance events are new to RIDE 4 by the way, offering hardcore racing fans some gruelling races in which their pitting strategies will really be put to the test. Other new features can be freely played with in quick race, too, such as dynamic weather. A really nice touch is that any time you spend in quick race mode helps your career progress. You earn cash, affinity and experience in every mode in RIDE 4, which helps you carve your way to being a champion. After all, bikes and upgrades don’t come cheap.
Online multiplayer is also included, but it’s rather basic. You can search for a lobby or create one, private or public, and that’s about it. Compared to games such as WRC 9, which recently implemented a cool new clubs system, RIDE 4‘s multiplayer offerings feel like they’re there simply because they’re expected to be. Those who like racing online might get some mileage out of them, but there’s no sense of lengthy competition. It’s clear that Milestone considers the career mode to be the real meat of the game.
A dearth of online multiplayer modes is about the only real blemish on RIDE 4’s rap sheet; if serious online competition is your thing, this may not be the game for you. If getting stuck into a chunky single-player career floats your boat, however, then you’ll be more than pleased with it. RIDE 4 is the best-looking bike-based racing game yet, and the visuals are backed-up by handling and physics that have been noticeably fine-tuned. This is about as good as it gets for those who like donning virtual leather and tearing up a track on just two wheels, providing they’re not too fussed about human competition.