It’s been just over three months since I reviewed RIDE 4 on Xbox One. It feels like it’s been longer though. Thanks, COVID.
Since then, next-gen consoles have finally launched, and, as promised, Milestone has delivered an enhanced version of its brilliant racer to PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. Even better, there’s a free upgrade path for anyone that has bought it on a now last-gen console. So, what have those lucky folks got to look forward to?
The answer is: swankier visuals, of course, as well as dramatically improved load times, a silky smooth framerate, and more bikes on the track. PS5 gamers also get DualSense implementation, and while it isn’t going to blow your mind, it does offer a nice bit of additional feedback that further immerses you in the racing action. It’s just a shame that none of RIDE 4‘s original issues have been addressed in the months since it launched.
Essentially Gran Turismo with bikes, RIDE 4 has a lot to offer racing fans. Its career mode is the real meat of the package, making players start out in a regional league before progressing to the world stage. That’s where the game really opens up; what initially seems like a meagre offering soon impresses with the number of events that become available. To succeed, players will need to acquire licences, proving that they have the skills needed to compete. And after that, it’s all about earning money, buying bikes, and putting your riding skills to good use. Prove yourself, and you’ll ultimately be given access to the final leagues where competition is at its peak.
For anyone that likes a solid single-player campaign, it’s jolly good fun, but those who like to mostly race online will find its multiplayer options lacklustre. Some may find issues with its single-player offerings, too. Those who like to have the racing line turned on to help them, for example, will likely find RIDE 4‘s to be rather unreliable. Sometimes it’ll tell you to brake too early, other times too late, and sometimes it’ll just leave you totally confused. Once you’ve started learning the tracks and got accustomed to the bikes in your garage, however, it becomes much less of an issue.
What is by far RIDE 4‘s biggest issue is that its on-boarding for new players is abysmal. There are no tutorials to teach players the basics, and while the competency of your AI competitors can be lowered by way of a handy slider, it doesn’t help when taking part in events other than standard races. Some players might not be able to even earn the first licence required to take part in a regional league without difficulty, for example, thanks to overly challenging track test challenges that are fiendish even once you’ve become fairly good at the game.
Persist with RIDE 4, though, and eventually those challenges that initially seem impossible become very much doable. At that point it’s likely you’ll become enamoured with it. There’s just so much to do, with new events such as Endurance added in this entry. And bikes; there are so many, and each and every one of them can be customised with performance parts and snazzy liveries. You can even create your own liveries if you want – for your bikes and your rider’s helmet. And thanks to the power of next-gen consoles, they’ve never looked better.
Anyone that has dabbled with a last-gen version of RIDE 4 will instantly see that the resolution has been upped considerably. A dynamic resolution system has been employed to ensure that the game runs at a silky smooth 60fps, but even when there are ten or so competitors around you the picture remains wonderfully sharp. And in addition to the resolution boost there are better quality textures, improved lighting, and enhanced weather effects. At times, RIDE 4 really does look real. The only thing that sullies the experience is a bit of noticeable pop-in.
While the prettier visuals are a feast for the eyes, it’s the improved framerate and reduced load times that really make RIDE 4 on PS5 better than ever. On the track you’ll find that the extra frames allow you to post faster times thanks to the increased fluidity and responsiveness of the controls. And the speedy load times mean you’ll spend less time waiting for events or menus to load, and you won’t mind restarting challenge for the nth time so much when it’s giving you trouble. This next-gen upgrade just makes RIDE 4 prettier and more enjoyable.
If you have a PS5 or Xbox Series X, there’s never been a better time to play RIDE 4. It’s a challenging racer that may drive you up the wall at times, but it’s so rewarding when you finally tame the bikes in your garage and start being able to truly compete. It’s just a shame that, since its last-gen launch last October, nothing has been done to bolster its online offerings or make it a little bit easier for new players to get onboard. Still, the best bike-based racing game has assuredly just got better. If you love bikes, you need RIDE 4; it’s as simple as that.
RIDE 4 PS5 Review: GameSpew’s Score