Milestone is the undisputed king of bike racing games. The prolific Italian studio pumps out multiple bike games every year including licensed MotoGP and Monster Energy Supercross titles, catering for track and dirt bike racing fans alike.
But while these are annual franchises, we haven’t had a new RIDE game since 2020. Thankfully, the long wait for RIDE 5 is nearly over.
Announced back in April, RIDE 5 is pulling a stoppie on consoles and PC this August. With a new dynamic weather system, revamped physics, and hundreds of licensed bikes, it promises to be the best entry yet.
We recently went hands-on with RIDE 5 alongside Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged in a preview session to find out how Milestone’s new motorcycle racer is stacking up.
The Gran Turismo of bike games
Milestone has always pitched RIDE as the Gran Turismo of bike games – and it’s easy to see why. Instead of competition MotoGP bikes, RIDE lets you race road bikes around real and fictional circuits. These are bikes you can buy in the real world from manufacturers such as Ducati, BMW, and Honda.
Only a handful were accessible in the preview build, but the final game will feature more than 270 real bikes from 20 official manufacturers at launch. Bikes are split into four categories: Superbikes, Supersports, Naked, and Historical. The final bike list is yet to be confirmed, but there’s a good chance you’ll find your favourite motorcycle in RIDE 5.
For novices, an assortment of assists can be applied for brakes, cornering, automatic steering and throttle, and ideal trajectory to suit different skill levels. From our short preview session, RIDE 5’s bikes felt easier to control than MotoGP 23’s two-wheeled rockets. RIDE 5 is targeting a broader audience than MotoGP, so making the controls accessible is imperative.
However, even with assists set to medium, throttle and braking still required gentle precision and early braking to keep the bike on track. Approaching corners too fast after braking too late resulted in excessive understeer.
Thanks to a revised suspension system replicating the inner components, the bikes feel weighty and realistic, but casual players may struggle to get to grips with the controls even with assists enabled.
As for the tracks, RIDE 5 lets you race on 44 real and fictional circuits including Imola, Estoril, and Laguna Seca.
There are five fictional tracks, four of which return from past RIDE games. New to RIDE 5 is Blue Wave Circuit, a tropical track set in Hawaii surrounded by palm trees. With a mix of winding tunnels and tight turns, Blue Wave Circuit was a fun yet demanding course to navigate.
Sadly, this is the only new original circuit in RIDE 5. We’ve raced on real circuits dozens of times in other racing games, so the lack of new fictional tracks other than Blue Wave Circuit is disappointing.
There’s scope to create original circuits as iconic as Gran Turismo’s in RIDE, but Milestone explained that fans have been requesting more real-world circuits, with tracks like Autopolis in Japan making its series debut. However, we'd argue that adding more fictional tracks would help RIDE 5 stand out and give the game more personality.
Dynamic weather debuts
Unlike MotoGP 23, RIDE 5 is coming to current-gen consoles and PC only. Abandoning the ageing PS4 and Xbox One systems seems to have paid off with noticeably upgraded visuals. Volumetric clouds make the environments look more realistic and immersive, while a new dynamic weather system adds a layer of unpredictability.
You can also customise events with multiple weather intervals and speed up the time of day. Longer races let you add more weather slots. For example, you can start in perfect sunny conditions and finish in a heavy rainstorm, with wet weather having a noticeable effect on your traction.
RIDE 5’s career mode promises to be extensive with over 200 events split into primary and secondary events. Core events are designed to introduce players to the main game modes and most accessible tracks, while secondary events are more challenging but offer higher rewards like bigger payouts.
Like MotoGP 23, a new rivals system sees you face off against ten main rivals, rise to the top, and become the world’s best biker in a narrative-driven career.
Endurance races lasting up to 24 hours return with night racing and strategic pit stops. This time, Milestone has thankfully added options to save progress mid-race and rewind to ease frustration.
While it wasn’t shown in the preview event, one of RIDE 5’s most promising headline features is the new Race Creator. This allows players to effectively recreate historic motorcycle races with options to change the starting grid, assign penalties, and ban players online.
An update after launch will also let players share custom races with friends online, adding replayability.
On the multiplayer side, split screen is back by popular demand, returning for the first time since RIDE 2. Online multiplayer, on the other hand, will support crossplay for the first time, enabling players to race together in lobbies on consoles and PC, along with shared leaderboards to compare lap times.
No plans for VR support
One requested feature that is sadly absent, however, is VR. Gran Turismo 7 has set the benchmark for virtual reality racing on consoles, but Milestone confirmed RIDE 5 won’t support VR.
But implementing VR in bike games poses challenges. There's a need to simulate the movement of the rider as well as the bike. Any disparity between the two would likely cause discomfort and lead to motion sickness.
When asked if the team is exploring VR, Milestone wouldn’t comment. However, a representative responded with a revealing smile. This possibly hints that Milestone is testing VR – an exciting prospect given the team’s bike racing pedigree.
Considering there are no mainstream VR motorcycle racing games on the market, there’s a lot of untapped potential. If one developer can revolutionise virtual-reality bike racing, it's Milestone.
RIDE 5 is shaping up to be the most comprehensive bike game yet. Motorcycle enthusiasts will savour the extensive bike list and painstaking attention to detail. It’s effectively the sequel to Polyphony's Tourist Trophy we never had.
But if Milestone wants RIDE 5 to be the Gran Turismo of bike games, it needs to be fun and accessible for everyone.
RIDE 5 is racing onto on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam and Epic store on 24 August 2023. Players who pre-order the Special Edition will get three days of early access on 21 August.
Two editions are available to pre-order. Retailing for £69.99/$59.99, the Standard edition includes the RIDE 5 Far East Pack as a pre-order bonus. This pack includes the 2021 Kawasaki Z900 and 1998 Suzuki TL1000R Racing Modified 1998.
In addition, the Special Edition comes with a Rebel Pack and a Season Pass adding more content until February 2024, as well as three days of early access. Retailing for £94.99/$89.99, this is by far the most expensive edition.
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