Ride 4 is Milestone’s latest hyper-realistic motorbike racing game bringing fan-favourite bikes and tracks together to produce some of the most intense racing moments imaginable. Dynamic weather, dynamic resolution, haptic feedback and more takes the Ride franchise into the next generation of video game consoles, but not without its own teething issues. While Ride 4 looks amazing and has a whole bunch of new features, the version we were provided with had some game-breaking problems.
Let’s dive into Ride 4’s key problem. For a game that launched on October 8, 2020 we had hoped that they would have fixed the unstable bike physics. Ride 4 became almost unplayable when our bike would flip on the starting line and/or propel itself, without warning, high into the air after riding over one of the corner bumps. This made races almost impossible to win when combined with the dangers of colliding with other racers which seemed to have no idea where we were on the track, despite claims of ‘ANNA’, the Neural AI system, supposedly making the gameplay smoother than ever.
To make it even worse, the AI autopilot hasn’t been programmed to ride in the wet, so this resulted in rainy time trials being almost impossible due to the rider crashing before we even got control. While the game does have a rewind system in place, the player shouldn’t have to rely on this due to the unstable physics. We hope this is just a teething issue with the PlayStation 5 (and probably the Xbox Series X|S) version, and that it will get fixed in an update at or soon after launch, but we can only review the version of the game that we are given.
If the unstable physics get fixed, then there is a great racing game available under its core issues. The most noticeable improvement we is something only PlayStation 5 players will experience: haptic feedback on the adaptive DualSense triggers. A lot of tension can be felt on the triggers when accelerating and braking, which is realistic for the front brake, but not so much for a typical handlebar throttle grip.
Ride 4 supports quick resume for PlayStation 5 allowing you to get back into the game faster than ever. This makes working your way through the career mode easier, and this time around players get to choose their own path. Milestone have created a system where the game will follow what you do, so if you love Kawasaki bikes and purchase a lot of them, Kawasaki will then invite you to join their team or to test out some of their new bikes. The career is split up into three stages, starting with choosing a continent (America, Europe or Asia), then competing in the World League, followed by choosing the World Superbikes League or World Endurance League. Each league comes with its own championships which include numerous events in each, and the difficulty level is quite high right from the start. We struggled through a lot of the time trials to just get a bronze time and have no idea how we’d be up to 10 seconds faster than bronze to get gold. We’ve heard of players doing the same event dozens of times just to get through, and really if Milestone wants to accept more casual players then perhaps the bronze times shouldn’t be quite so demanding.
Milestone has now implemented a dynamic system for lighting and weather conditions in Ride 4 which can also affect the time of day, meaning track conditions can drastically change from the start of a race to the end. Combining this with the new endurance mode which includes races that last for a few hours and pit stops, and you can expect a real sense of spending a whole day on the track. Endurance mode requires the purchase of an endurance class bike and the time to sit down and race it, so don’t expect to be completing everything in Ride 4 any time soon.
Another improvement is the number of bikes in a race. Previously, Ride games only had 12 bikes in action at any one time but Ride 4 now supports up to 20 players in both offline and online races. With over 170 licensed bikes at launch and more than 80 available in both paid and free DLC packs, motorbike purists should be able to test out plenty of bikes that they’ve only dreamt about previously. Models range from decades-old to ones released in the past year, and cover a variety of categories including naked, sports, the new endurance bikes and more. There are also 34 unique locations to race on, and what we love about Ride 4 is that they’re not limited to racetracks. Cruise along the French Riviera, or maybe hit up the full Nürburgring or if you love your track racing, classics like Monza and Laguna Seca can be found, as well as the Philip Island circuit. Interestingly, Philip Island is in the ‘Asia’ category, where you can also find a track set in South Africa.
Handling has received some improvements, and players can expect each bike to handle differently, with the higher CC ones being harder to master but much more fun to control. It’s hard to fault the bike models, and even the character models look hyper-realistic now that we have the game running at 60fps 4K HDR. Players can customise their bike and rider with all the brands they’re familiar with such as Shoei, Dainese, Alpinestars and Shark. Riding aids and difficulties are all very customisable with things like racing lines and front/rear joint braking being able to be switched off. The DualSense touchpad changes the camera angle which is kind of handy though we would have liked to have seen the touchpad utilised in a better way.
Photo mode is back and just like in Ride 3, gameplay is processed into a higher resolution still frame which can then be edited to look even more stunning. Comparing Ride 4’s gameplay to the photo mode is like comparing a nice cheese to a really nice cheese. They’re both great, but the photos you may see in your feed are not a true representation of gameplay footage. That said, we loved toying around with the photo mode while getting some of the high-end bikes on perfect angles around corners, or when you’re involved in a huge crash!
In Ride 3 we reported that the audio wasn’t up to scratch, with a lot of the bikes sounding muffled and low quality. Our experience in Ride 4 has been the opposite. Bikes now sound as realistic as you would hope, and we enjoyed the way it would change depending on your camera angle, particularly when in the in-helmet view. Ride 4 is a game that deserves to have the audio cranked up, and when you’re racing against 19 other bikes, heads will certainly move.
Once the unstable physics are fixed (and we’re confident it will be), Ride 4 should be one of the best racing games of 2021 and arguably a defining game for the genre. Ride 3 was great when it launched a little over two years ago, so we can’t understand what’s gone wrong with the bikes for this version. With an 11-month plan of DLC including 14 free and 15 premium packs, there’s plenty of content on the way. If you’re a Ride addict then know that the next-gen version of Ride 4 will be fine after a patch or two, but for now you don’t need to race out and get it.
Rocket Chainsaw reviewed Ride 4 on a PlayStation 5 console with review code provided by the publisher. It is also available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC. For more information, head to the official website.
- Looks incredible - When the bikes work, the game works - Lots of tracks and different gameplay modes.
- Unstable physics - Steep learning curve.