Next-gen upgrades are a fantastic way to give a game extra polish and enhance the overall experience by taking advantage of the more powerful hardware. Three months after the launch of RIDE 4 on the PlayStation 4, the game was given a new PlayStation 5 version. While there are glimmers of potential under the surface, especially in the utilization of the DualSense, RIDE 4’s upgrade does little to try and remedy the issues present in the base game, resulting in a disappointing and incredibly frustrating experience from start to finish.
To start with the positives, the most impressive and notable feature of RIDE 4 on the PS5 is the utilization of the DualSense’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. On a technical level, these features make RIDE 4 a fantastic showcase of the power of the controller. The haptic feedback makes the DualSense feel like a miniature motorcycle engine in your hands, while impressively reacting to different surfaces and weather conditions to make the experience even more lifelike. Meanwhile, the adaptive triggers work wonders for control over accelerating and decelerating, as the triggers replicate the feeling and tension normally equipped on a motorcycle’s throttle. While the DualSense makes RIDE 4 one of the most immersive motorcycle experiences from a technical level, it is a shame the rest of the game cannot live up to the same standards.
While the PS5 port of RIDE 4 takes advantage of the DualSense’s unique abilities, it fails to utilize the full power of the PS5’s hardware capabilities. Putting gameplay of the PS5 and PS4 versions side-to-side will show minimal improvements between the two versions on a graphical level and, while quicker than before, loading screens are still prominent throughout menus. This is incredibly disappointing, as much of the tracks could have used extra foliage, extra spectators, or even better textures to make the tracks more lively. Most of the time, there are very few NPCs along the side of certain parts of the track, which makes tracks set in major cities seem like everyone went on holiday. RIDE 4 was not a particularly great looking game on the PS4 to begin with, so it is a real bummer to see this next-gen version fail to make the situation much better.
RIDE 4’s biggest problem does not lie in graphics, however, as the core gameplay is easily one of the most frustrating and difficult experiences in a racing game, especially for newcomers to the series. Upon booting up the game, there is no real tutorial to get you accustomed to how to play the game. Instead, RIDE 4 feels that newcomers can learn best by trial and error on a test track. To proceed with the game, the player must reach a certain time requirement to show proficiency, but the time quota is so incredibly strict that it turns the tutorial in it of itself into a frustrating experience. There is no feedback as to what the player is doing wrong or how to improve their skills, instead, the track just loops until the player gets lucky enough to beat the time.
There are some minimal control options that make the experience more palpable, such as auto braking, but these settings dip into the credits awarded after each race, stunting progression even further. RIDE 4 demands perfection with its controls, with even the slightest bump against a wall sending the driver ragdolling through the air. While this adds to the realism of the game, it takes far more away from the fun level. It seems that the devs knew how frustrating the game was, as they even included a rewind feature in races, which feels like a small bandage placed on a gaping wound.
Once you master the controls in RIDE 4, what is left is a mediocre racing experience that is more boring than fulfilling. The campaign mode is relatively lengthy, but most missions are either time trials with strict quotas or time trials with posts to drive through at a certain speed to avoid penalties. Outside of campaign mode, there is a standard race mode with an impressive level of customization and an online mode. Outside of those modes, there is little else to do, including a surprising lack of local multiplayer.
Grinding for credits to use in the garage is where most of your time will likely be spent. The campaign is definitely the easiest way to earn credits, but the amount gained does not feel equatable to the amount of time wasted on failed attempts. The prices of items in the shop, new motorcycles in particular, are exorbitant, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands for a single bike. When you only earn a thousand or so per match, the grind for a single bike is painful. It is clear RIDE 4 wants players to buy the credits multiplier from the PlayStation Store using real money, in addition to the presence of a host of DLC that is not included in the PS5 version.
Outside of its great use of the DualSense, RIDE 4 is a frustrating and disappointing experience. The lack of a meaningful tutorial, an aggravatingly difficult and boring campaign mode, the absence of local multiplayer, and the greedy credit system all equate to a game that feels like it was rushed for people hungry to get a next-gen motorcycle experience. RIDE 4 feels like a tech demo of the DualSense and nothing more. For an immersive racing experience on PS5, it is better to switch gears and look forward to Gran Turismo 7.