Ride 4 is a motorcycle racing game developed and published by Milestone S.r.l. for PC, Xbox and PlayStation and will release on October 8, 2020. As the name of the game suggests, this is the fourth iteration in the Ride series, with the first game releasing back in 2016. I received the original Ride as a birthday present and found it at the time to be like Forza Motorsport but for bikes. Ride is based on realistic driving physics and so is more suited to the serious racing game fans, and it’s extremely difficult, to the point I’m still racing in the first cup!
Ride 4 features 34 tracks from around the world with over 250 bikes from 22 official manufacturers (174 bikes available at release and 81 more coming in future DLC). Ride 4 is also one of the most difficult games I’ve ever played. There are some platform games that I find just too hard, and games like Dark Souls are also a struggle for me. Specifically with racing games, I’ve always found Forza Motorsport to be difficult to play, but with time and concentration, I could eventually be classed as good enough to at least complete some races. This brings me to Ride 4, and after 8 hours of trying, I cannot complete the first set of races and can’t even finish the first exhibition race. I’m not blaming anyone but myself, and boy am I trying to get better.
When you first load up Ride 4, you get to customise your rider which has some really cool options. Not only can you modify the look of your rider but right down to how much your rider leans into corners and how many fingers they use to apply the breaks. I never really knew there was a difference, so it was great to see these when watching a replay. You can really unleash your creativity here by designing your helmet, suit and bike livery in total freedom thanks to new graphics editor. The next major choice you’re faced with is choosing which league you want to race in initially.
You can only choose one from either Asia, Europe or America, and once you make your decision, you can’t try the other leagues until you’ve unlocked world league through completing races and cups. Your choice represents which race tracks and bikes you’ll use native to those locations. I went with American as I do not have much knowledge of motorcycle racing. This is where I hit my first roadblocks in the game, in terms of my inability to meet the minimum race times to progress.
Like in Forza games, Ride 4 has many racing assists to help novices like myself. There are blue arrows on the track showing you the optimal racing line, and these change to yellow/red if you’re going too fast into a corner. There are also breaking assists which help you to brake early enough before turns, which I used heavily whilst I learned the tracks. It took me more than 20 attempts to get the bronze finish time on the first track. If I went off the track by even an inch, it would be a failed attempt. Take the corner too quick and I’ll either fly off the track or fly off my bike, with spectatucular crash physics too, ouch! I feel like I can’t do sensitive enough turns with my Xbox controller, and would benefit from having one of those motorcycle machines in timezone to really get the hang of the turns.
I went to the second track which was more forgiving about letting me go wide off the track, but I had to pass the bike through gates at the right speed. If you miss a gate or go too slow, you’ll have time penalties added to your finish time. I finally managed to get bronze after about 2 hours of attempts on that one track. I’m giving myself some props for not quitting . I did feel I was gaining skills with each failed attempt which is a credit to the game. The third cup track and the first exhibition track, features racing with other AI riders. I failed to meet the bronze finish times, and my best finish place was 10th out of 12th. I am suitably awful at motorcycle races, and a great risk to the health of my fellow AI racers.
Speaking of the AI races, Milestone has introduced the A.N.N.A system which stands for Artificial Neural Network Agent, based on machine learning. This means you’ll be racing against faster, smarter and more accurate AI riders, and it certainly shows. There were times, especially in corners where riders would get real close to me. Most of the time my lack of skill would mean I’d clip one and we’d both go flying. When I was racing properly and efficiently, geez was it hard to match it with the top of the pack but again it drove me to hone my skills and get better with each attempt. I can only imagine how difficult races will be against real players in online multiplayer.
It also must be noted that the level of detail in this game is incredible. Weather effects were very immersive and the bikes are incredibly detailed. There are several views offered to race in, and the cockpit view is intense. Full credit to professional motorcycle riders and how they race in real life making split-second decisions. In past racing games, some of the detail of the trackside has emphasis but they may only put placeholder graphics for grand stands and scenery beyond that. However Milestone RSL has gone to great levels of detail for the terrain in the background. Every asset has been created starting from CAD data, laser and 3D scanning to achieve precision down to the smallest detail. I spent a lot of time watching my driving recover from failed attemps and crashes, and it let me appreciate the amazing backdrops for the tracks I played.
After 8 hours of playing, I finally reached level 5 which has unlocked more tracks for me, but I’m going to persist and attempt to get bronze on that third initial track and the exhibition race. The gameplay is the most realistic motorcycle racing I’ve experienced, and even with all available assists turned on, I am failing most tracks, but I’m not going to give up. I am determined to get better and unlock more races. Ride 4 is a great game to play on the couch with my 3-year old daughter watching and offering words of encouragement, “it’s ok dad, you’ll get better.” Thanks Charlotte.
Ride 4 is an incredibly detailed racing game that will have motorcycle enthusiasts very pleased. Not being too interested in motorcycles myself, I’ve enjoyed learning how to race on them in this game. The difficulty of the game despite the racing assists is a bit too high for my liking, and it would have benefited from having some form of tutorial race to practice on before tackling real races. The graphics are extremely impressive and despite the difficulty, I can feel my skills getting better. I just wish I could at least finish the first cup and unlock more of the game. Post-launch, there are going to be an impressive line-up of DLCs released with 14 free DLC as well as 15 premium DLC which are included in the season pass.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis