Some genres in video games are criminally underappreciated. This is from both a consumer and a developer’s perspective. One of these genres is motorcycle racing games, which is usually something that’s either a hot mess, rushed out the door, or just not receiving the attention it deserves. It is a field, that if done right can be so much fun considering the joy that motorbikes are supposed to bring in real life, but it’s sadly never been emulated in video games. Until Ride 3 that is.
Ride 3 is by no means perfect, but it does something that other games in the genre just somehow never get right, and that is to make the game fun. Often, these games either try to be too real and bring with it a ton of unnecessary technicalities that make the game sometimes unbearable to play. Ride 3 doesn’t do this. It keeps a fine balance between realism and fun, which is something that most car racing games managed to get right a while back, and it’s good to see Milestone S.l.r is trying to emulate.
Opening the throttle
Ride 3’s career mode feels a lot like old school Gran Turismo. You start off selecting your first bike, something a little bit small, not too fast, but it is a good bike to get you going. You then compete in lower level races to get some money so you can buy upgrades for your bike and eventually bigger and faster machines in different classes. Upgrading your bike is essential to get anywhere, especially on higher AI difficulty settings, as most of them will leave you behind in no time.
So you essentially start at the bottom, but the bikes you race with don’t feel slow or annoying at all. There are different classes of bikes to race in, with each bringing a unique feel. Racing in a two-stroke 250cc street racer is a much different experience than say a 600cc road bike. Both are fun and enjoyable to compete in, provided you got the upgrades to keep up.
Ride 3 can feel a tad bit grindy, but for the most part, it works well enough, which just enough progression to keep you invested. Your ultimate goal isn’t really clear, but you do work to get to compete with the real Superbikes. There’s no fancy tacked on story campaign, and people telling you to read your emails or interact with social media. Just old school racing with solid progression mechanics and feels both fun and rewarding. Getting a cool new bike is much better than some fake social media account telling me I am cool for winning at the last race.
Getting a cool new bike is much better than some fake social media account telling me I am cool for winning at the last race.
Upgrading your bikes isn’t that hard, as all of them have the same kind of upgrades to choose and buy. It’s not the most complex thing ever, but it is accessible and make you feel like you’re doing something to improve your performance. There are of course a lot more details in tuning and modding when it comes to each race, so if that is something that you fancy, rest assured that there’s enough of that in this game.
Needs a bit more tuning
Ride 3 plays incredibly well. The bikes feel solid on the road, they sound great and it is just generally a joy to play. The only issue is the graphics that are a bit dated. Sure, the framerate is rock solid, and on the PS4 Pro you get both a Graphics vs Framerate priority as well as HDR settings, but to be honest, I don’t think it makes much of a difference.
Being a racing game, a faster framerate always takes priority and I will be very honest that it doesn’t disappoint. Switching to a higher resolution though does make the game feel a bit slower, but it’s still very solid with no noticeable dips in performance. The trade-off is not really worth it, as the graphics, even in higher resolution, still looks a little bit dated. I will be honest and say that this is not the bike models or the riders, but rather the scenery. The bikes are very well rendered with a lot of attention to detail, but because of this contrast, it often makes the ugly clouds, mountains and trees stand out even more. The game has a solid enough photo mode which can be used in single player, but to be honest, it’s not something you’d really want to use considering the backdrops are just kind of ‘meh’.
Other than the career mode, everything else is pretty standard fare. You have your time trials, and arcade mode to try out faster bikes on different tracks, as well as the compulsory multiplayer.
Multiplayer is a bit of a hit or miss. You only have an option to do a private match or a public match. When you go into a public match, you are paired with people all over the world, and then get to vote for the class and the track you want to race. If you don’t own a bike in the right class, then you can get a loan to at least compete. The voting system isn’t bad, but I would like it to be a bit more robust where I can compete in racing with my favourite street bike and set it from there.
Matchmaking is fast and works well, but I did have a few instances where I got disconnected from “host”, which might be that the person selected as the host rage quits, and then essentially kick everyone to the main lobby to start over. It was a bit frustrating, and although competing with others was enjoyable, I soon found myself just grinding away at the career mode.
Can only improve from here
Ride 3 is probably the best motorcycle racing game you will find today. Yes, it is a bit rough around the edges, but it is still a very good package. There are tons of bikes to collect and a large selection of tracks to compete on, some of which are pretty cool and creative originals. The visuals need a serious update, and in racing games, that is starting to become non-negotiable. Sure, this is not the biggest studio, but they got the gameplay right, so focussing on making it look stunning might not be a bad idea. Still, it runs smoothly and the models of the bikes are pretty impressive. If you’re looking for a solid racing experience on two wheels, the Ride 3 is probably your best bet.