Ride 4 Review
Now in its fourth iteration, the Ride series is firmly entrenched as the Gran Turismo of motorcycle racing games. The developers clearly love motorcycles and have a reverence for the history of the various makes and models. Ride 4 can serve as a digital museum of sorts for motorcycles.
On the track, controlling the various bikes feels great, and there is a marked difference between bikes. Nailing the apex at Suzuka feels just as good here as it does in any other racing game. The actual racing is engaging, and passing another rider on the track is an exhilarating experience. AI speeds on straightaways feel awfully slow, while they’re far better through the corners than expected. This leads to some major rubberbanding during the races.
The primary experience for the game is the career mode. You design your rider, pick a bike and sign up for a series in one of the three main territories: Americas, Europe or Asia. Almost immediately, this structure annoyed me. It’s presented as a series of events, and starts with gated runs and time trials that reset if you don’t pass them.
If you’re great with motorcycle racing games, these early exercises might not trouble you. I, however, am not great at motorcycle racing. I had to try these early events multiple times, putting up with many loading screens as I tried time-and-again to shave tenths of seconds off.
While the experience helped me get a better feel for the bike, it also actively put me off the game from the beginning. I ended up hopping out of career and switched to other single race modes so I could just get some track time.
One new race type this go-around is Endurance mode, which lets you race from 20 minutes up through 24 actual hours, with a day-night cycle and dynamic weather. As a sim racing fan, I love endurance racing; it adds strategic elements like fuel and tire management, and Ride 4 does a great job.
Graphically, the Ride series has gotten better looking with each entry. The move to the Unreal engine is a gamechanger, and Ride 4 is easily the best looking game in the series. The engine change has helped make the dynamic weather and time of day changes a reality. Racing is improved, with AI riders taking better lines and avoiding each other more.
All-in-all, there is plenty to do in Ride 4, and it’s the best entry in a solid racing series. The game could use better onboarding for new players, but there are plenty of options and sliders to tailor the game to your liking. I can’t say how the AI is at the hardest difficulties, as I’m nowhere near good enough to hang with the best.
One perk with this year’s game, if you’re upgrading to next gen consoles, is that Ride 4 will launch on Series X and PS5 in January with a free upgrade. The next gen version will include 60FPS at 4K and will allow up to 20 racers online. Presumably, load times will also improve quite a bit.
Ride 4 was reviewed by Seth Roy on the XBox One X with a code provided by the publisher.