After a recent preview opportunity, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on the final version of Ride 4 by Milestone. Here are our impressions, based on the PS4 version of the game.
One of the big questions we had prior to the release of Ride 4 was about the fact that the game is coming to next gen systems after they release, leaving us wondering how much of a leap forward we’d be seeing on the current generation of consoles – or if this was perhaps just a quick upgrade to last year’s game. Luckily, we weren’t disappointed.
Before diving into Ride 4, I decided to install Ride 3 again so that I’d have a good frame of reference to compare with. This turned out to be a smart move, because even though you rarely notice little differences when you’re focused on the race (and staying on your bike) it’s safe to say that Ride 4 makes a step forward when it comes to the visuals. Bikes, and even individual parts, have been scanned in 3D and the end result is stunning. It’s hard to keep track of when racing from a first person perspective since your eyes will be on the road, but just ask anyone watching and they’ll confirm that the way that everything looks and moves is gorgeous, with tons of attention to detail that makes each of the 176 (!) bikes in the game look unique.
Further additions in terms of visual fidelity include a new system for lighting and weather, which looks impressive even in pristine racing conditions as shadows dynamically change based on your position on the track and sun-drenched stretches of road look very different from those covered by the shade that’s being cast by pieces of scenery. Comparing the experience to Ride 3, there’s a definite push to more realism here, and we’re not even playing the next gen version yet.
That sense of realism carries over to the gameplay as well, where things like the wear of your tyres and fuel usage have an impact on your optimal pitstop strategy. Handling is still geared more towards the sim side of things even though it feels slightly more forgiving than Ride 3, but you’ll still need to get comfortable with how to lean into corners and when to apply front and/or rear brakes. If you’re not a motorcycle racer or have experience with previous Ride games, these things will force you to experience a bit of a learning curve.
Ride 4 boasts the introduction of ANNA, a new ‘evolving’ AI system that’s designed to adapt to your racing behavior in order to always provide a fitting challenge. While that sounds good in theory, I didn’t notice much of a difference in my in-game experience and some of my opponents still showed erratic behavior at times, like forgetting to head in for a refuel or not slowing down to avoid a massive crash.
In terms of functionality and modes, the career mode has been redone for Ride 4, letting you start out in the regional modes before heading to the big leagues. Starting from a different continent means you get access to different tracks as long as you’re regional, which is a nice touch in terms of a possible second playthrough. On top of racing, you’ll also need to manage other facets of your career, including the option to work with sponsors or spend your earning on a new ride. It’s nothing super deep, but it’s a nicely structured way of seeing a lot of what Ride 4 has to offer besides just going for the very standard single race, time trial and endurance content.
The Ride games from Milestone have consistently gotten better, and Ride 4 is no exception. It’s the best motorbike sim out there for fans of the on-track sport, and although more casual racing fans are probably better off with a game like TT Isle of Man this is the go-to option for true enthusiasts of more sim-like racing.