A milestone release?
“Ride 3” is, unbelievably, the 5th game Italian racing outfit Milestone have released in 2018 (Gravel, MXGP Pro, Moto GP 18 and Monster Energy Supercross being the others) alone. With this remarkable release schedule, can quality be maintained?
Ride’s career starts out promisingly. There’s a neat introduction video, produced to a reasonable standard. Then each series of events gets a nice little text introduction. Unfortunately that’s about it. You get to create an avatar, who you’ll occasionally see roaming around, but then there’s not much to unlock, and no in game effect for all of the stuff anyway. It’s like a system was being implemented but either didn’t work or was rampantly cut at the last minute to hit development deadlines.
It’s a shame, because Forza 7, whilst by no means perfect, at least made strides forwards. Ride 3 has little sense of individual or team achievement, and with a dauntingly long list of events, there’s too little incentive to push on, and too many lengthy races to feel like you are making a dent in the event list. Progress is turgidly slow, and frankly a disincentive to actually move forwards.
If the career isn’t for you, then there’s a catalogue of 2-wheeled riches awaiting you. There’s an awful lot of bikes (250+) and tracks (30+), and plenty of customisation both in terms of the track layouts and the bike parts, and a fully featured set of visual editing tools.
The actual feel of the riding is fine, but not spectacular. Like Forza, there are many driving aids which are available, but unlike the four-wheeled competition, they make no difference to your rewards, which is a shame. If you start on the most generous settings, you’ll be pretty much impervious to falling off, and the beauty of the game comes as you gain more confidence, and have to control the bike as the front wheel tries to lift off the ground, or you lose grip under heavy braking. What’s not great is the AI, which is pretty robotic. Worse still is the fact they don’t (or won’t) react to your presence, and will insist on taking their line, which led to me falling off over and over in some situations. Thankfully another feature borrowed from Forza is the ability to rewind.
To be honest, there’s not a huge number of changes over Ride 2 – the visuals have had an overhaul, and there’s simply more game, but I’d rather the effort have been spent on making the career feel more ‘real’ and adding a bit more personality, something that has been lacking in every Milestone game for years, with the sole obsession of Gravel.
Oh dear. Multiplayer in Ride 3 is not good. The first game I played was brilliant, in the most hilariously possible way. The matchmaking was quick, but even though I loaded into the game I was immediately booted into a spectator mode (even seeing the start of the race). In the end I was glad I didn’t actually participate. The lag was awful (I have recently been upgraded to 80MB/S down and 20MB up so its not my connection), with players jumping around the track, appearing out of nowhere and completely broken physics. Crashes made players spin wildly into the air (50ft or more!). Some riders didn’t even have their bike drawn in, so their bodies sat suspended in mid air, floating around the track. It was a comedy of errors. Unfortunately I ran into these problems far too often.
Milestone’s move to UE4 continues to pay off, with their games generally looking better and better with every release. That’s not to say the quality rivals Forza Horizon 4, but Ride 3 has accurately mapped tracks, some nice fictional environments, and pretty good weather and night effects. The budget doesn’t stretch to dynamic weather, but that’s not the end of the world. There are two areas which could do with improvement. Beyond a couple of videos, the career mode is very sparse and spartan. The tracks are the same, with very little in the way of crowds, pit activity, or background activity (like cameramen or filming helicopters) – little touches than elevate the Microsoft and Codemasters games from competent to excellent.
The audio suffers even more from the budget cuts – the music is bland and there’s not much of it, there’s no commentary, very little voice over, and even the motorbike engine noises don’t sound great. And bizarrely the game defaults to stereo over home cinema mode.
‘Ride 3‘ is a real case of quantity over quality. The tracks, options, bikes and modes rival the Forza series, which is undoubtably made with a budget several times greater than what is available to Milestone. For this alone, the game should be admired. But when the end result has disastrous multiplayer implementation, poor AI, and a lacklustre career mode, Ride 3 has its fair share of issues. The teams at Milestone could do with working more closely together – if a few more elements from Gravel had been shared, then Ride 3 could have been a genuine contender. As things stand, I had a decent time for a few hours, but fatigue set in much too quickly for my relationship with the game to be anything other than ships passing in the night.