Motorsport enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to in Ride 2, the definitive bike racing game from Milestone S.r.l. Square Enix has partnered with the Milan-based studio to publish the North American Xbox One and Playstation 4 versions releasing this February 14, 2017. I recently had the chance to visit the Square Enix offices for a hands-on and in speaking with Michele Caletti, the lead programmer and creator of the Ride series, the future for bike racing games is bright.
Publisher-developer Milestone boasts a historic history specializing in simulation oriented racing games, working on the Superbike World Championship, MotoGP, and WRC: FIA World Rally Championship titles. Working on licensed projects throughout the years, the Milestone development team sought out a new challenge. Creating a new property for themselves with Ride. “At some point we wanted to develop our own IP,” Michele says. “We wanted to really express ourselves in a new way.”
The first Ride game released in 2015 and while it was well received by the community the team took feedback from its fans to heart for the follow up, especially the challenge of working with various motorbike brands. “Everything is very hard the first time around, because they were not used to working with video games,” said Michele. For Ride 2, the hope is “to build a culture for motorbikes. We wanted to give a background, why we chose each one of the bikes, what’s the reason for them to be inside the game, and that’s their story.”
Typically simulation games can be difficult to pick up and play due to its precise, skill-based gameplay. This was not the vision for Ride 2. “Our games are conceived to welcome players, guide through the game and give them a fun and interesting experience,” Michele says. To reinforce this, the game will release monthly bike updates, as paid and free DLC. Given there are hundreds of bikes featured there’s plenty of variety for enthusiasts and niche racers too, for example supermotard bikes and cafe racers, which were added based on fan requests.
Customization is two-fold, because it not only ties into the social piece but also as a way to showcase the uniqueness of each racer. “You’ll be able to change almost everything that can be changed and swapped, and modified on a bike. This means tires, rims, removing the rear view mirrors, the plate, making modifications to the engine for performance, swapping the exhaust, changing the colors, everything you can imagine you can change on a bike, this is in Ride 2,” Michael explains. Your individual racer is customizable as well and can be shared online for friends to download into their Ride 2 experience. Built on the idea of mirroring a player one-to-one, the player will be able to see their progression in skill set, victories, and cosmetic visuals across PC or console versions.
Of course Ride 2 couldn’t be complete with its locales and tracks. Featuring over 30 locations with 50 track variations for each, the Nürburgring Nordschleife stood out as one to check out. Speaking with friends who’ve driven the public portion of the 20km track, it’s a demanding circuit with a very strict turns. So experiencing this in a video game on a bike as a road race was another beast entirely. Bringing these racing circuits to life was a challenge as well, as the team traveled to different corners of the globe as well as hiring photographers to capture the unique essence of each track.
Ride 2 may already be the love letter to bike racing fans with its exceptional assortment of bikes, tracks, and customizable options available. For the North American crowd, you can look forward to Ride 2’s release on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC/Steam this week.