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RIDE 5 Xbox Review – Stunning Visuals and Immersive Racing

RIDE 5 is a racing simulation game developed by Milestone S.R.L for PC, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, and will release on August 24, 2023 (25th for us in ANZ). This is one of the most realistic, engaging, and welcoming motorbike racing game I have played to date and is a vast improvement over 2020’s RIDE 4 for me. RIDE 4 was too difficult (likely too realistic for me), to the point that after 10 hours I still couldn’t achieve a high enough placing in the starting races to progress past the intro for the game. I am pleased to say that RIDE 5 has varying difficulties, with the easiest being achievable for novices to motorbikes and the RIDE series, and the new additional systems added are fantastic. This review focuses on the Xbox version of the game.

I was apprehensive loading up RIDE 5 for the first time. My experience in RIDE 4 was super frustrating for me. I’m a gamer that likes to say I am reasonable at playing most games. If I struggle at first with a new game, practice usually makes perfect, or at least I can get a handle on the mechanics and brute force through trial and error (lots of errors). But RIDE 4 was an untamable beast. If you went off the bitumen by a millimetre, your run would end. If you so much as tapped an opponent, off the track you would fly, and time attack races? I couldn’t even get bronze on those. So, I loaded up RIDE 5 and after customising my rider and choosing a starting championship, off I raced.

My first race finished in a respectable fifth position, and while I went off the road a few times, it didn’t penalise me and I was able to complete the race. On the second and third races in that round, I finished in 2nd and then 1st consecutively. This was the first time I had come first in a RIDE game ever, and it was an awesome feeling. I was on the easy difficult which has many racing assists active. This includes assisted breaking, assisted steering and a few others. In the first couple of races, I was actively braking into corners and leaning as much as I thought I needed to. It wasn’t until about the fourth race that I realised just how much the assisted braking was doing because I could hold the accelerate trigger the whole corner and just had to worry about my line into the corner and leaning.

I ended up tweaking the assist levels to where I could test my skills a little more which ended up with me falling off the bike a lot, and overshooting corners, but I was learning with every mistake. I was getting really immersed into each race, getting a good feel for how to lean and control the bike, how to accelerate out of corners using the full width and angle of the tyres for the best acceleration, and listening to the sounds of other racers’ engines to hear how they were accelerating much better than I was. The sound design is amazing, and I imagine is authentic to the real motorbikes, so I started to get closer to the front of the pack and move ahead to winning races consistently.

The graphics of RIDE 5 are extremely good and the photo mode gives you endless angles to capture perfect shots. In the career mode, it is said that you are assigned a personal photographer and they take photos of your race at critical points, which you can browse through at the end of each race. This saved me having to risk crashing or going off course to quickly hit the screenshot button. Character models with helmets off aren’t the best though, especially in the photos of you embracing other racers or posing with a championship cup at the end of a race. Character models aside though, once in-game and on your bike, everything looks silky smooth on the Xbox Series X. There are dynamic weather effects in races, and I was thrown off by my first rainy race as I didn’t change my tyres to suit the wet track.

I enjoyed the short snippets of real-world scenery shots of each country as I raced in new locations for the first time. These really made me want to travel the world, but once you have seen each country’s imagery the first time, it’s the same images each time you raced in that country, so it became a sequence to skip unfortunately. It would have been cool to perhaps have some cyclic imagery of that country and/or some scenery around the particular racetrack. But this is a game about racing motorbikes, not Flight Simulator.

As you complete races, you will start to see racer names appear in red which are rivals. If you manage to beat your rivals in a race, you will gain additional XP. Some races have you racing one-on-one with these rivals which was a good test of your abilities. However, as I started to win more and more races, the novelty of racing against rivals wore off. This is likely because I should have increased the racing difficulty to be more of a challenge, but I was enjoying winning in this game, unlike my experience in RIDE 4.

Then came some endurance races which was a fun dynamic where you’re watching your fuel and tyre quality slowly going down. When do you pit, and when do you think the rest of the field is going to pit? I waited until tyres and fuel were in the red and at this point, I was 25 seconds ahead of the field. Once I had finished in the pits, I dropped from 1st to 11th! I thought I had blown it, but to my surprise, everyone in front of me pitted with 1 minute of the race timer to go, and I won the race! If you can’t last the distance, you can actually pause an endurance race and resume it later. For a busy dad gamer like me, this was an amazing feature.

RIDE 5 has a crazy amount of content (over 200 events throughout the career mode), but you need to complete an entire block of races before opening another one. Career mode is split into two major areas. The first tour block is divided into four acts ranging from championships to single races, time attacks and rival races. You need to earn a minimum score in each act to unlock the next one. A secondary series of events called unlimited challenges is unlocked once you reach these score milestones that have higher skill requirements but offer better rewards like new bikes for your garage. Most of these required you to win the race so were more difficult for me, but not insurmountable and I won more as my skills developed.

I don’t know much about bikes aside from brand names like Honda, Suzuki and so on, but when you earn or purchase a new bike, it gives you a slow motion look at it from all angles and these are amazingly detailed. In addition, as you complete races, you not only earn rider xp but also constructor xp. Once you unlock xp levels with a particular constructor brand, they will offer discounts when purchasing new bikes under that brand. There is also a whole liveries section where you can customise your bike, suits and helmets with stickers and colours to your hearts content.

RIDE 5 can also be played in multiplayer which I was not able to try given playing during the pre-release review period. However split-screen couch co-op is back for the series for the first time used since RIDE 2. There are cross-play lobbies, but console is separate to PC. This means Xbox Series X players can race against PlayStation 5 players, and for PC it’s just Steam playing against Epic Games Store players. Leaderboards though are shared across all console and PC players.

Overall, RIDE 5 has far exceeded my expectations and has made the realistic gameplay to be playable and enjoyable even for novices to the series. The game looks absolutely stunning on the Xbox Series X and ran super smooth, with only the character models letting the quality down a little. As a non-motorbike racing fan, I still got a lot of enjoyment out of learning to play the game and see my skills getting better over time. For true motorbike racing fans, there’s a lot to dive into here. There is a price disparity between PC and console for both standard and special editions, and I dare say this may limit console purchases for gamers that aren’t right into motorbikes or racing games.

This review utilised an Xbox key provided by Plaion ANZ and RIDE 5 will launch on August 24, 2023, on Steam ($84.95), Epic Games Store ($84.95), Xbox Series X|S ($114.95) and PlayStation 5 ($114.95).


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