You might not know Milestone by name, but you’ll almost certainly have seen if not played one of their titles. For the past 10 years, the Italian developers have been the brains behind the annualised likes of the MotoGP series, the Sebastien Loeb Rally games, WRC & MTX racers as well as dozens more. Essentially, if the main character is a vehicle with two-wheels, chances are, you’ve played a Milestone game.
It wasn’t until 2015 though, when Milestone released the first IP they truly owned; Ride. A bike simulator for diehard motorcycle fanatics. Fast forward to 2016 and Milestone are now in the development process of Ride 2, the sequel which promises to be bigger and better in almost every way and at this year’s gamescom we got a lengthy presentation and a brief hands on demo of the upcoming racer.
In a nutshell, the Ride series is to motorcycles, what Gran Turismo is to cars; as close to the real action you can get without having to step a foot outside. It doesn’t just offer you the chance to jump on hundreds of bikes, but lets you customise, tweak, and change almost every part to suit you and the road you are racing on, too. A 20+ hour campaign is what awaits players jumping into Ride 2 and it’s the usual affair of starting with a bog standard motor, and racing your way through multiple series in order to become the best around, but if working your way up the ladder isn’t what you’re into, there of course is any number of game modes, from single races, endurances and speed challenges.
A racer is only as good as it’s roster of vehicles and circuits, though. Without strength in depth it becomes nothing more than a flash in a pan jump in and jump out experience. The guys from Milestone told us that the the original Ride acted as something of a litmus test, gauging what fans liked, loathed and wanted, and it seems like they have delivered on all fronts for the sequel. Now boasting 230 bikes from the off, spread across 19 categories, wannabe riders can ply their trade on the likes of mixed terrain supermotos, feel the thrill on the back of a superbike or scare themselves silly by reaching ridiculous top speeds on cafe racers and dragsters as well hundreds more.
It’s an even bigger victory for those petrolheads obsessed with accuracy though as Milestone has worked closely with a number of bike manufacturers including BMW, Kawasaki and Ducati in order to accurately capture the authenticity, look and feel of the bikes. It’s a series of relationships that Milestone particularly pride themselves on, after all, they are the only developer out there who have such an affiliation with bike racing and it’s complexities and likeness. So far has that esteem within the industry gone, Ride 2 will also host a series of official circuits, city layouts and races, ranging from the titanic Nurburgring and its and 15.2 miles of twists and turns through German forestry to the fastest road circuit in the world, the Ulster GP. Twinned with favourites such as Monza, Donington Park and the Macau city circuit, Ride 2 doubles its track roster to 30 from the original game making for a much more varied experience.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a full racing simulator without the ability to tweak every inch of your bike. As well as the aesthetic side of things where you can change the colour and style of fundamental parts of your bike, there are five mechanical areas to modify. From engine, gears and transmission to the wheels or brakes and suspension, we’re told Ride 2 has over 1200 individual parts to pick and choose for your bike, all having an effect of how it feels on the road. It may seem quite overwhelming at first, but it's as simple or complex as you like it; you’ll be able to see how each part affects any number of aspects on your bike, but if you know the exact brake calipers that will give you that extra 10ft braking into corners, you can take that path too. It’s as close as you can get to get elbow deep in nuts and bolts without ever having to get up from the sofa.
Jumping onboard for several laps around Monza, it becomes instantly clear that Ride 2 really is more of a sim racer when compared with its MotoGP brethren. The usual separate buttons for front and rear brake is there in classic Milestone fashion, but it feels like the slightest mistiming can have dramatic repercussions - but that is bike racing after all. Unlike previous Milestone titles, the rider feels much more human, every correction, turn and twist of the throttle sees the rider shift, adjusting their body weight to counteract the action, it’s all about man and machine in perfect harmony as you battle with the impressively accurate AI.
It’s a pleasure to see a developer with such strong connections in a particular field branch out and make something they have always wanted to. While Ride was something of a litmus test, fielding feedback and opinion, Ride 2 looks to be bigger and better in every way. More tracks, more bikes, more licenses, more customisation and more realistic; if you like bikes, racing or simulators, Ride 2 is something you should be very excited for.
Ride 2 will be released on 7th October and will be available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.