Ride 4: Is it really the next step in the photorealism race? - item

Ride 4: Is it really the next step in the photorealism race? - item

Ride 4

Is it really "4 real" as the tag suggests? Last week, a video made with the motorcycle simulation video game Ride 4 went viral: the video uploaded by YouTuber Joy of Gaming got millions of views on YouTube and Twitter. Looking at the video, it's easy to see why this is so successful, considering the near-photorealistic gameplay achieved by the game's dynamic “helmeted” first-person view. The game is based on Unreal Engine 4 and thanks to a mix of cinematic effects, physics, motion blur, lighting and skilful use of materials, the result is incredible. But how far are the technological limits pushed? Does this title deserve all this hype, or is it something already seen with DriveClub Bikes?

There are a couple of important points about Ride 4 that need to be highlighted. First of all, it's not a new game, as it came out last year and its next-gen patch came shortly after release. The video went viral because a great job was done in bringing to the attention of the public an aspect that probably went unnoticed long ago. Secondly, the aesthetic aspect of the video consists of a series of elements that combine to create something magical, and this is a key aspect that has nothing to do with the technical aspect of the game but is rather closely linked to the game. driving skills of the player. The truth is that Ride 4 is brutally difficult, unforgiving of mistakes and is often downright merciless. Part of this is due to the simulation component: motorcycles are unpredictable when traveling at high speed on surfaces that are not perfectly flat, and this aspect of real physics is well implemented in the game. Furthermore, rival drivers can very well collide with us from behind, and the AI ​​does not help in this respect with its often too aggressive driving approach in the starting grid. Some races start and the player is already put down in the starting crowd.

Ride 4 thoroughly analyzed on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, with Tom Morgan and Alex Battaglia discussing the game and the video he is on. based, went viral.

Watch on YouTube. Moving on to the technical edge of Ride 4, a crucial component in staging this realism is movement, and in particular the dynamic replay camera used in the video, which does a brilliant job of conveying the sensation of speed and highlighting the various moments of the race. But it must be said that during gameplay, Ride 4 offers a more stable and more conventional camera, and that can only be the case for driving comfort and race results. While the replay camera could potentially be used in-game, the player could easily get disoriented and lose the track line given the speed with which the shot moves. In the replay, the camera logically moves according to the rider's movements on the bike and the curves of the track. Every lean in the curve adds adrenaline to the action. Braking also forces the player to "rise" to shift the center of gravity to the rear, and this aspect is emphasized much more than in the game view. The camera also moves aggressively: there is a connection with the ground that is conveyed to the player, who really feels himself on the track. So many driving games implement this wrongly, but the reality is that it is a key element of engagement.

But it doesn't stop there. The color gradient is top notch as well. Lighting, materials and post-processing help create realistic results, especially at high speed. We saw this game for the first time in a demo version, featuring a circuit with cloudy / hazy weather conditions (NorthWest 200 in Northern Ireland), running through a small village. At this speed it's hard to notice anything out of the ordinary, especially since the polygon layer is created via CAD data and laser-scanning of the environment, and everything degrades at speed. The action has a 60fps update (internal resolution appears to be typically 1512p on both PS5 and Series X), which raises the level of immersion, and the mirrors are also updated at the same speed. There are a few extra touches, such as the brake fluids that spread realistically across the front, and the chassis that vibrates with the stresses of the engine and wind. All this contributes to increasing the feeling that the bike is really bound to the asphalt. Among other surrounding elements, the shield is filled with droplets of rain and the driver closes and opens his fingers with each gear change, even if the movements here seem almost robotic.

The video that marked the beginning of the phenomenon, the phenomenal montage of the Ride 5 replay by Joy of Gaming.

Watch on YouTube. The area where Ride 4 is not very convincing is that of incidental details, even if a large part of the problem is represented by the screen-space reflections, much worse than the respective RT alternatives. Since reflections can only be rendered for on-screen elements, it creates noticeable discontinuities, especially when cutting corners on curves. In normal gameplay, Ride 4 seems much less convincing, partly because of the more static camera but also because of the stage chosen for the video that went viral. By choosing a stage with cloudy weather, with a tighter color gradient and a barren landscape, several lighting and shadow issues are better hidden. The emphasis on specular detail, with wet roads and slick tires, favors modern rendering techniques, avoiding having to present pixel-perfect images for materials in direct sunlight. As a result, Ride 4 loses a lot of this realism on sunny circuits, becoming a beautiful video game again rather than something photorealistic.

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We are still in a situation that we have already experienced some time ago with DriveClub Bikes, the DLC of the classic for PS4. But the question is: how much evolution has there been with Ride 4 after seven years? Unfortunately for many this comparison will simply be impossible because DriveClub and its Bikes DLC were removed from the PS Store in 2019, and only those who had already purchased them will still be able to access it. There are several similarities between the two simulations: both feature incredible materials work and a phenomenal rain model. Ride 4 obviously enjoys the advantage of running on more powerful hardware and has a target of 4K and 60fps, while DriveClub remains confined to 1080p30. The Evolution Studios game also suffers from a limited number of polygons and poor anisotropic filtering, but offers similar effects when it comes to brake fluids. The screen-space reflections of rain in DriveClub are also better than in Ride 4, which would have helped to increase the sense of involvement.

Overall, it was interesting to take a look at Ride 4 for several reasons . First off, it's nice to return to a game we missed at launch, and the web's powerful response to Joy of Gaming's YouTube video is a good excuse to enjoy this visually impressive game even if its photorealism doesn't extend to every. juncture of experience. Furthermore, it is interesting to take stock of the level reached in the rendering of the graphics, although it must be remembered that the last generational cycle has just begun, and we can't wait to see what will come in the near future.

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