RIDE 3 Review – Unreal Improvements (PS4)
Racing games tend to focus on traditional cars, with developer Milestone S.r.l. towing the line for motorcycle fans in the current generation of consoles. While their last game, MotoGP 18, left a lot to be desired, the RIDE series has usually been a more reliable performer. Can the same be said about RIDE 3? Time to find out in our review.
A Prettier Ride
Last year’s RIDE 2 didn’t have great visuals. Bike models weren’t particularly detailed, and environments were rough. Milestone shifted, as so many developers have in recent years, to using the Unreal Engine 4, and the improvements are impressive. Bike dashboards no longer have a plastic look to them, environments have more detail, and perhaps most importantly, the frame rate maintains a consistently high pace. What’s more, there is a PS4 Pro-specific setting to prioritize either graphics, or frame rate. HDR is also supported, bringing a bit more contrast to the horizon, bike and rider colors, and generally serves to make colors pop a bit more. The icing on the cake is that loading times, which have plagued Milestone in games past, have been noticeably shortened. Milestone appears to be taking full advantage of the improvements that have been performed on the Unreal Engine 4 for this generation of consoles.
Overall presentation in RIDE 3 really focuses on the love of riding. The career mode now includes “Volumes,” which are groups of events which have restrictions on what type of bike can be entered. Don’t have that type of bike? There is an option to quickly purchase one. This style of campaign feels very much like a Gran Turismo game, which is a great thing. Each type of motorcycle throughout the decades is well represented. Sport bikes, endurance, “naked (think Triumph), even Supermoto makes an appearance, both on- and off-road. There are also 30 tracks to race on, including world-famous circuits such as the infamous Nürburgring.
A Customized Ride
While many different types of motorcycles are represented in RIDE 3, some appear to have been given more attention than others. Supermoto bikes stand out as a unique option, but in-air physics feel a bit too floaty. These bikes are eager to go airborne in these events, and they stay in the air for what feels like forever. This can be overcome by slowing down before jumps, and isn’t exactly a deal breaker. Other bikes stay firmly on the ground during their events, where this isn’t an issue.
Customization is important in any racing game, and RIDE 3 includes meaningful options. Many parts are available to upgrade, with matching performance boosts. After just a handful of decent performances in events, enough cash will be accumulated to max out a bike. This also follows the Gran Turismo style of enabling gamers to enter an event with an overpowered vehicle, but if things get too easy the difficulty of opponents can always be ramped back up. The game even suggests as much if the player wins by a large margin. This can always be declined for those who prefer to feel like a big fish in a little pond.
Perhaps more important than any other aspect of a motorcycle racing game is how it feels to ride. Motorcycles are much less forgiving than cars at high speeds, as even the slightest hesitation can cause riders to slip up and crash. RIDE 3 has realistic physics, which means that players who are inexperienced with these games will likely crash and crash a lot. Thankfully, there are plenty of assists to help out. A rewind function, triggered by simply pressing R1, can take players back in time, by a surprisingly robust amount of time to boot. Normally, there are also two separate brakes, front and back, which are used independently, but an assist can be turned on to help with applying the proper braking technique to avoid fishtailing. All of these assists can be turned off, which will result in events rewarding more experience points and money.
Multiplayer options are included in RIDE 3, though since the game is not yet out it is tough to give a verdict here. There is also a weekly challenge, which provides asynchronous multiplayer. Based on the player’s performance, a suggested ghost can be downloaded and raced against, which ensures that a relatively fair challenge can be had.
Replay and photo modes are also on offer here. The replays are pretty standard affairs, and the photo mode includes a handful of filter options. Players can mess with exposure, contrast, and other color-related settings, along with focus and other tools, to create the exact photo they wish. It’ll suffice for those who wish to share the moments they most enjoyed during their ride. There is also almost no soundtrack to speak of, with music outright cutting off once a race is entered. Many enthusiasts only want to hear the roar of their (and nearby competitors’) engines, but for those who enjoy playing on easier settings and cruising to victory, a decent soundtrack could have helped.
RIDE 3 is the bike racing game to beat this generation. A much-improved presentation, with a focus on the thrill of the ride, comes alongside improved load times. With over 200 bikes, plenty of customization options that make a difference in bike performance, challenging opponents, realistic physics, and tweakable difficulty options, fans of the series, and motorcycle racing game fans in general, will be quite happy.