MXGP3: Milestone’s Finest Hour?

Though they once managed to team up with Electronic Arts and push out the magnificent motorcycle simulator Superbike 2001 to near unanimous praise, a title that came after establishing themselves as a very competent developer team in the late 1990’s with Screamer Rally, the Milestone we know now is unfortunately very different than the Milestone of old. Pushing out game after game sporting a surprisingly large variety of official licenses most of us aren’t quite sure how they managed to obtain in the first place, four World Rally Championship releases and a collection of decidedly average MotoGP titles lucky to receive more than a single patch gave Milestone a justifiably poor reputation within our favorite genre. Boasting more ambition than technical prowess, racers like Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, the original Ride, and Valentino Rossi: The Game were discussed in sim communities not for their willingness to innovate on what’s a very rigid and concrete brand of games, but for widespread technical & performance issues, the developer’s inability to support the titles after launch, and the feeling that Milestone were doing just enough to have a minimum viable product out on store shelves.

Because of this, it was exceptionally hard to get excited over MXGP3 when select websites started to talk about it, and the announcement that we’d see Milestone’s officially licensed motocross racer move over to Unreal Engine 4 didn’t give a lot of people faith that this time, things would be different. Known for the challenges in getting the software to achieve a stable framerate, Rally Evo struggled to maintain 30 FPS on Sony’s PlayStation 4 in clear, daylight conditions, so it was hard to see the other team from Italy getting a firm grasp on the newest iteration of the Unreal Engine, not to mention building a semi-competent game around it – especially as the prior two MXGP releases were stiff, lifeless dirt bike simulators that were incredibly hard to stomach.

Yet now that the game is out in the wild, by some act of God, Milestone have actually gone out and pulled it off; the results being nothing short of spectacular. Their absolute finest hour as a developer, MXGP3 is easily the all-around best dirt bike game that has ever been made for modern video game consoles. Though the subject matter of focusing on a predominantly European motocross series may make things difficult for those who are unfamiliar with any kind of two-wheeled off-road racing aside from the Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship, sim racers who brave the initial unfamiliarity will find a motocross game with virtually no show-stopping flaws; uncharacteristically competent for Milestone. The final product is enjoyable not just because Milestone have seemingly gotten their act together after years of mediocrity and it’s a nice story to see them knock one out of the park, but also due to the fact that there’s just so much shit to do in-game, and everything is complimented by a physics model that balances realism with accessibility.

The biggest problem motocross games have traditionally exhibited over the years, is the unwillingness of developers to see the sport of motorcycle racing in anything other than black and white as it pertains to the overall riding physics. You’re either leaping over barns or canyons in a single bound, running flat-out around even the most treacherous of circuit layouts – think the MX vs. ATV Series – or just staying on the bike for more than a few corners is an exercise in frustration – as seen in the ultra-hardcore MX Simulator. There has never been a happy medium that implies motocross is just like any other form of motorsport; yes, you’re making these huge leaps five, six, maybe even seven times per lap, but there’s also multiple corner lines, braking points, and – wait for it – even throttle management.

MXGP3 introduces us to that happy medium. There is no rider balance mechanism as seen in MX Simulator – so the hardcore guys might be a bit put off – but the separated bike and rider controls first perfected in MX vs. ATV Reflex return here, along with buttons for both front and rear brakes, giving you a pretty diverse level of control over your virtual avatar and his steel horse. With a rather convincing set of physics powering the whole thing – a change that’s highly appreciated compared to the stiff physics of the first two iterations – bikes feel nimble yet weighty, and you’ll find yourself experimenting with a combination of braking styles and pedal inputs to free the bike up on corner entry.

Corner exit, however, is where MXGP3 shines, as throttle management is absolutely necessary to contain wheel spin in the 450’s and generate the most amount of rear end grip; the back tire wandering around under your avatar’s ass and your speed clearly being affected if you get it wrong. Jumping physics no longer feel like there’s a child’s hand grabbing your bike and carrying it through the air as they did in the last game; there’s now some satisfaction in getting a massive run at a ramp and setting off on a nice arc through the air, though track layouts encourage rolling jumps with partial throttle and landing the bike perfectly on the downward portion of the ramp to maximize your time on the ground. If you’re used to the MX vs. ATV series and ripping around at top speed, it’s a vastly different experience that takes some practice and skill building, but once you understand what MXGP3 wants from you, it’ll be very hard to go back.

But it’s in the weather effects and terrain deformation where MXGP3 kicks all sorts of ass, and it really serves to complete the experience.

We’ve been subjected to dynamic dirt for about ten years now, starting with Sega Rally Revo in 2007 before arriving in the aforementioned MX/ATV series (with even iRacing and PiBoSo getting into the fray), but like with Milestone’s new riding physics, MXGP3 strikes another happy medium when it comes to how the tracks get torn up with each passing lap. The moment bikes start to turn laps under practice, qualifying, or race conditions, a hunt for grip begins; riders slip and slide all over the place through the center of the corner, and I found part of the fun in MXGP3 to be wandering around in corners looking for that key rut to turn the bike, and when a corner had been completely beaten to shit, letting the bike wander around in the mess to see where it naturally stabilized. It’s not over-exaggerated like the MX/ATV series, where giant canyons would form in the corners, nor is it a visual gimmick like in Sega Rally ’07; to me it both looks and feels a lot like Sprint Car racing, just on two wheels. You’re always keeping your eyes on the dirt and moving around to discover for any extra bit of traction.

And of course, the viscosity and general characteristics of the dirt are subject to change, all thanks to Milestone’s stellar implementation of dynamic weather. While I felt the first season of career mode featured just a few too many wet-weather events to show off what they’ve done to their environments, at the end of the day the riding experience is so enjoyable in adverse conditions I found it hard to consider a negative aspect. MXGP3 is a blast in the rain, with the dirt being just slick enough to generate slightly longer braking points and require careful use of the throttle, but never to the extent where it’s actively trying to kill you or is somehow exponentially more difficult than riding on a dry race track – which is what happens in most tarmac racing games. Milestone’s weather can also change over the course of a race, with an overcast event producing a sudden downpour as you click off the laps met with an equally tangible change in the level of grip, but sim racers need not worry – the underlying riding experience is so fun and intuitive, you certainly don’t dread storm clouds by any stretch of the imagination.

Thankfully, the solid riding experience has been paired with an equally competent roster of AI competitors, though I’d like there to be a touch more consistency in their performance. The AI on Realistic difficulty in MXGP3 are formidable opponents, blasting around the track without any external assistance or bullshit tweaks on the part of Milestone to make them on-par with the player’s skill level, but it seems as if their capabilities only rise to the occasion every second or third event. I’ve played through two complete seasons in career mode (one in both classes), and while some events would provide me with absolutely fantastic races that came down to the final jump (literally), others I would sweep the Grand Prix weekend totally uncontested once I took the lead. I also found that the AI put up a much better fight in the GP1 category compared to GP2, meaning the first season in career mode might turn into a bit of a grind for avid motocross fans who pick up the riding controls rather quickly.

But when they’re on, dear God they’re amazing to battle with. I’m hoping Milestone choose to support this title with more than just a single patch, as I’d like this experience to carry across every race, not just one in every three races.

Tying this all together for some sense of purpose and progression within MXGP3 would be the game’s career mode. Though I refuse to label what Milestone have built as expansive – considering you’re just playing through seasons while earning cash in various ways – the mode is surprisingly detailed in how you’re allowed to conquer the MXGP calendar as you see fit. After a handful of preseason exhibition races, you’re given a cash allowance and a starter bike of your choice to tackle your first season in the 250cc support class, gaining XP and cash with every race, which either allows you to upgrade your current bike, purchase a new ride, acquire sponsors for your independent team (generating a hefty XP bonus for campaigning under your own operation) or sign with any of the teams in either MXGP class – which rewards you with a factory bike and complimentary team jersey. As you can probably guess, the more assists you disable in the career options menu, in combination with winning a fair bit, and it becomes pretty easy to rocket up the ladder and have the likes of Red Bull KTM or Monster Kawasaki offering you a spot in the premier series provided you’re not shit at pretend dirt bikes.

It’s very simple in theory, but what MXGP3 gets right about this is in the way the game issues team objectives and calculates your rider XP. Initially, it’s very easy to earn XP with any of the entry level independent sponsors or riding for a backmarker team, as you’re basically expected to score points and not make a complete ass of yourself out on the race track. However, after becoming a championship threat, XP is only handed out – and in some cases subtracted from your rider level for failing to meet the requirements – if you sweep the race weekend; meaning it’s actually possible to lose your spot on the team. This is partially why I advocate for Milestone to bump up the AI difficulty a notch or two, as the dynamic of team owners steadily increasing their demands, combined with reputation being able to decline after a string of bad performances, would create an environment where you would float from team to team in a natural career arc of a real rider.

As you’d expect, bike and rider customization play some kind of prominent role in MXGP3’s career mode, with your independent entry boasting a pretty solid array of both visual and performance upgrades to help create something that’s unique to you and your team. While the variety of upgrades is pretty spectacular, personally I found that the customization options were far too inexpensive for the amount of prize money the game would toss you after each race, and it was to the point where I had several hundred thousand in my account just sort of sitting there after two championships in career mode, with not a lot to spend it on despite building a pair of fully upgrade bikes in both classes. You end up reaching an end-game point very quickly.

This is partially due to the fact that a stock bike with no performance upgrades is capable of winning races on the highest difficulty (and of course, if you sign with a team, you’re riding something even faster) so your prize money just sort of pools until you’re bored enough to customize some bikes. Again, Milestone patching the game to feature slightly faster AI would mean you wouldn’t be winning as many races, therefore not reeling in as much cash, not acquiring top level sponsors within just a single season, and as a result there would be some importance to financial management, but unfortunately that all relies on Milestone patching the game more than once – which they’re not exactly great at doing.

There are also some odd limitations placed on the user in the customization menus; jersey names are limited to just six characters (I was forced to roleplay as Kyle Larson), while jersey numbers are placed on a slider, forcing you to sit there and manually scroll for ages if you want something in the 400’s or 500’s.

Yet for all it gets oh so very right, the trademark Milestone slip-ups are still present; the sign of a development team shooting for the moon and landing somewhere in the Nevada desert. At the moment, selecting any event type in career mode other than the basic two race weekend sans qualifying ends up skipping to the next race weekend after the qualifying or practice sessions have concluding, glitching the absolute shit out of the game. I’ve ran into a bug in an online session where the camera remains locked at the starting gate (above), even as the gate drops and your bike rockets off the grid – and I think it affected more than just myself as another user in the room also seemed to wander aimlessly in the background as my own rider had been doing. Your online experience will definitely vary, as my first win was acquired not by beating a guy fair and square, but merely running within a few bike widths of someone and handing them a vicious netcode shunt, though in viewing YouTube streams from the MX gaming community it appears a smooth online session is certainly possible. There’s also the horrible generic dubstep polluting the menus, and a V-Sync option that cripples the performance of the game, so here’s a little tip: turn it off.

Oh, and rear wheels visually don’t spin at the proper speed. It’s kind of a mindfuck when you first notice it.

But for these slip ups, there are also signs Milestone genuinely wanted to push out something spectacular year. There’s a testing compound for you to ride at your leisure, including a mock Supercross layout that may possibly hint at Milestone acquiring the official Monster Energy AMA Supercross license for a future release, and in turning laps, I’d be more than pleased to have these riding physics – and the good performances of the AI – in a selection of content I’m much more familiar with. There’s a set of riding tutorials, a special nations championship that’s separate from the main career mode, some kind of basic photo mode, and generic bike setup functionality – though what comes with the bikes by default is certainly more than enough to go all the way in career mode.

The biggest hurdle to overcome with MXGP3, is simply the content offered. If you live in North America and are looking for a modern motocross game after several years of MX vs. ATV withdrawals, nothing within MXGP3 is recognizable save for the season-ending events at Charlotte, Assen, & Glen Helen, sponsors, and of course, the bike manufacturers themselves. The physics obviously make learning the tracks fairly enjoyable, but you’re still looking at sixteen circuits you’ve never heard of before – many of which are hard to fall in love with; the MXGP calendar visits many empty fields in Mexico, Argentina, and Thailand – a far cry from iconic locations such as the Daytona Speedway infield, Washougal, or Red Bud.

But unlike most Milestone products, those willing to brave the vast unfamiliarity will find a very solid motocross racer in MXGP3; an occasional lapse in the AI’s otherwise blistering pace pace, and one glitch in career mode that can be avoided by skipping qualifying sessions, are not nearly enough to derail what’s otherwise a fantastic package with no major faults. I would certainly prefer Milestone to bring things stateside and acquire the AMA license, but even with the obscure content placed front and center MXGP3, the overall pretend dirt bike experience is extremely difficult to find any substantial issues with. This is easily the best motocross game that has been released in quite some time, and provided Milestone can properly support MXGP3 – both with patches and additional downloadable content – we’re looking at a definite turning point in the two wheeled portion of our genre. It’s really good, and easily Milestone’s best work in the history of the company.

 

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Milestone’s New IP is Basically a Portion of Forza Horizon 3

gravel_pacific_island_05Trophy Trucks, Dune Buggies, and miscellaneous rally cars? Check. Wide-open, brightly-colored, easy-going circuits surrounded by colorful banners and some sort of fictional automotive festival sharing the name of the software itself? Check. An emphasis on a simcade driving model to try and reel in the largest number of customers possible? Check. If this sounds like Turn 10’s Forza Horizon 3, you’re unfortunately mistaken – it’s actually Milestone’s new intellectual property, operating under a name that’s just as much of a knock-off of superior titles as the gameplay itself – Gravel.

comp-2The Italian developer, known for their officially licensed MotoGP and MXGP releases, as well as Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo and a string of WRC games on the Xbox 360, have now basically taken a portion of Forza Horizon 3 without changing much of anything – most notably the trackside objects indicating a large, fictional automotive festival is taking place & the random array of off-road vehicles competing on semi-closed circuits and point to point events in an open world – and shamelessly built an entire game around it. Don’t get me wrong, I love trophy truck racing, and I definitely miss those late 90’s off-road titles such as Monster Truck Madness 2, which turned you loose on these elaborate fictional courses that were unlike anything the world of sim racing has to offer, but I also like variety. Initial footage of Milestone’s Gravel is almost indistinguishable from Forza Horizon 3, to the point where I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised if the team ran into legal problems, and the game fails to see the light of day when all is said and done.

There’s a difference between many sim developers all including the Nurburgring Nordschleife and the McLaren 650s in their flagship racing titles, versus what Milestone have done with Gravel – creating a new franchise with the exact same style, theme, and content of a product already on the market, and just sort of hoping people don’t notice. Even the skill points have been carried over from Forza Horizon 3, which rewards drivers for power-sliding around corners and destroying trackside objects. It’s really absurd the title got this far in development without a single person at Milestone’s studios saying “hey boss, what we’ve been making kind of looks identical to this other game… so what would make people buy our game over theirs?”

forza-horizon-compariosnGravel will boast around fifty vehicles and a number of diverse environments, offering a simplistic approach to off-road racing, reminiscent of old-school arcade racers such as RallyCross for Sony’s first PlayStation console. There won’t be a lot of thinking or practicing required with this one; it’s designed to be a game you can jump into and have fun when you’re tired of trying to extract that extra tenth out of your favorite car in Assetto Corsa. I obviously dig a good simcade title, as evidenced by recent articles on PRC.net, but here’s the thing – out of the box, Gravel simply looks boring. There’s nothing to this game that sets it aside from the aforementioned Forza Horizon 3, the Motorstorm series, or its most direct rival: BAJA: Edge of Control HD, which was announced yesterday by THQ Nordic.

The biggest problem I’ve found after examining some of the YouTube videos depicting Gravel in a semi-completed state, is that as a cohesive game, it appears to be extremely bland. Nothing about the reveal makes me excited for the game – it’s like a half-assed attempt was made to bring back something with the depth of Sega Rally Revo, when the market has already voted by and large with their wallets that it simply doesn’t work, and you need significantly more than just “cars on a track.” Not to mention, the AI are ridiculously slow and reduce their speed to a crawl for gentle bends in the racing surface, while the track layout previewed in the above footage doesn’t appear to be challenging in the slightest – any semi-competent driver would be wide open for the entire duration of the lap, and that’s not a compelling experience for anybody who likes racing games. Vehicle selection screens on display near the end of the video promise a diverse array of trucks, sport utility vehicles, and rally cars, though customization options are most likely related to just alternate liveries according to options listed on the menu.

forza_horizon_3_off_road_racingMilestone also don’t have the greatest track record when it comes to pushing out competent pieces of software, so it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Gravel runs well. Though the team have acquired the rights to MotoGP and MXGP, and pushed out officially licensed WRC titles for several years, none of them were all that stable. Most recently, the PlayStation 4 version of Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo has a framerate issue on certain stages that renders the game completely unplayable, where you can physically feel the force feedback de-sync from the picture on screen. All of their games are traditionally left in this state, receiving only a single patch before the team moves on to the next project. It’s pissed a lot of customers off, to put it bluntly.

So like many others who have purchased their products and been burned by the lack of polish, I would prefer Milestone to get their current stable of games right, before expanding to new ones – and a blatant rip-off such as Gravel doesn’t give me hope that there are many creative minds left in the studio.

Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is Finally Worth Buying

slrx64-2016-10-21-23-35-58-63All the way back in January of this year, I had the misfortune of wasting $100 CDN on Milestone’s Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo for the PC. While on paper the game looked to be a phenomenal alternative to the already brilliant DiRT Rally, I noted that the game suffered from an abundance of technical issues – as well as a bewildering lack of support for multiple USB inputs – that held it back from being a serious contender in the fight for the right to call itself the best rally simulator since 2004’s Richard Burns Rally. Now even though it was a Milestone product, and most people believed it should have been discarded after an hour of gameplay, at the time I forced myself to dive deep into career mode armed with little more than an Xbox 360 pad, and was delighted to discover that this had the potential to be a really fucking good game once all the bugs were ironed out. It’s got more cars than DiRT Rally, ridiculously difficult stages, and two separate single player campaign modes – both of which are unique in their own right.

It was destined to eat up a lot of my time if Milestone ever released a patch for the damned thing.

Michael Wieczorek of PC Master Race Reality Check begins the above video by stating that “Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is a pain in the ass on PC”, but over the course of four minutes discovers that there are indeed certain settings you can select via the external launcher which can iron out most of the performance problems before you even boot the application. Milestone finally got off their asses and released a patch to rectify many of the PC performance issues plauging a whole host of users, and I’m happy to report that my game stays locked at a buttery smooth 60 FPS aside from inclement weather stages, though I’ll chalk that up to my own hardware. In short, yes, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is no longer a stuttering pile of shit, and if you own the game on Steam yet haven’t touched it in months for this very reason, it’s now safe to do so.

safeAnother element which prevented many PC sim racers from fully diving into what Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo had to offer was the lack of multiple input support. Now I dislike treading over concepts I’ve already explained a thousand times over, but in case you haven’t noticed, a whole bunch of us hardcore guys love to mix and match wheels and pedals for their sim racing setups, meaning it’s more than one USB cable we’re plugging into our PC’s. Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo doesn’t natively support that, and it still doesn’t – ToCA Edit released an easy-to-use plugin for SLRE as a work around that allows multiple input sim racers to bypass the limitations of the application. This release flew well under the radar during Easter Weekend 2016 due to Rally Evo’s horrible initial reception, but given the performance issues found in the retail version have been ironed out, it’s definitely time for us to let you know about this.

slre-fixI’ve dedicated my Friday afternoon to playing through the Loeb Experience portion of the game, and I’m extremely pleased to report that Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo lives up to the initial review I posted back in January. If you’ve played the ever-loving shit out of DiRT Rally, yet shelved the title because you’re tired of running the same eight stages over and over again, Rally Evo should certainly be your next stop. I don’t want to mislead anybody and claim it features a stunning physics engine or a comprehensive mechanical damage system, but as a complete package I have no problem saying it certainly gives DiRT Rally a run for its money, and finally provides a satisfactory experience without the presence of ominous technical issues.

Reader Submission #120 – Ride 2 Impressions

ride-gamesoul-1-1280x720Motorcycle games aren’t exactly our specialty here at PRC.net, due largely in part to Milestone’s monopoly on the genre, but if you guys send us any substantial info on them, we’ll sure as hell cover it. Today’s Reader Submission comes from Karim S., who has gladly taken the time to evaluate Milestone’s new release, Ride 2, though unfortunately he has requested a full refund for the title – albeit with certain complications. Let’s find out why…


29228129160_8c6eb5772e_bI just wanted to let you know about my Ride 2 experience so far. I have been playing Milestone games for many years, so I have an idea what to expect. I think the MXGP games are quite good, despite their technical limitations, and Mot GP 15 Compact has proven to be good fun for $2.74 CAD. For those who are unaware, you can buy a “lite” version of MotoGP with just Single Race, Season Mode, and Online for a heavily reduced price, which is a nice option if you can’t see yourself dropping full price on a game you might not like. Bike games aren’t for everybody.

I kept hearing really good things about Ride 2, so I took the plunge. I had to choose between the base game ($55) and the special edition ($58), which includes two ridiculous day-1 bike packs and a Nordschleife documentary video. Funny thing, putting the special edition in your Steam cart warns you that the presence of the video in the package prevents you from refunding that purchase, as it is contains consumable content. Nope’d right the fuck out of there and bought the base game and the documentary separately.

Thirteen hours of downloading later (26 gigs of shitty sounds and bland textures), I was ready to go. All settings to “max” (FX-8320, 8 GB RAM, RX 470 4 GB), the introductory race had me between 20 and 30 fps, with regular stuttering. After restarting the game several times in full screen and windowed mode, with various settings, I tried it again on “max” and it finally locked itself at 60 fps for some reason. I did some racing at Monza, Imola, Macau and some road track, and after a few minutes, the game gave me a memory warning and shut down. I’m thinking there could be a memory leak, something that users of the first Ride have reported.  As far as bugs, the first time I watched a replay, there was no sound and one camera view turned around and was looking through the body of the rider. A bit unpleasant.

But how does it play? Where MotoGP is raw, has a lot of movement and is generally dynamic and challenging, this is exactly the opposite. I tried some high-performance models, and there seems to be a blanket over the exhaust, no grunt, no meat. MotoGP sounds vicious, and with some sound presets in an audio enhancer, you can retain the mean edge while filling in the low end, with some 3D “ambiance” thrown in. No such luck with Ride 2; it’s flat and hopeless, like some jazz preset in Winamp.

The handling is also very smooth and predictable, and coupled with the counter top-flat circuits, it’s impossible to feel anything no matter the speed. No bumps, no camber, no detail. It’s like they didn’t even try. I wasn’t expecting the game to support the Xbox One trigger rumbling that works so well in Forza, but that would indeed have given some texture to the gameplay. Even if we had a proper bike controller with force feedback, this game wouldn’t use any of it. This is what kills the game for me, and why I’ve asked for a refund.

Surprise, I can’t refund to my credit card because of the video I mentioned earlier. Even though I didn’t buy the special edition, the $1 video on the same receipt seems to limit my refund options. It will be a Steam wallet refund, or hopefully Steam support replies to my query in the next two weeks. 

Good low-rent content, technically sound overall, but more lifeless than ever. What’s funny is that one of the replay cameras is a bit more “on top” of the bike, and there is also more movement, which seems pretty cool, but you can’t use it for gameplay. Add some wind noise, some bumps and better engine notes, and this would be a pretty good game.


29437662671_699374904e_bThank you for taking the time to write into us about an often overlooked sub-genre of racing games. Many people have wanted a pseudo-sequel to the excellent Tourist Trophy by Polyphony Digital, and it’s a shame this game has been hindered by the Milestone trademarks we’ve all come to know and loathe – in particular the dodgy framerate and questionable lack of polish. Like Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo which released earlier this year, Ride 2 on paper looks to be an intriguing game with a lot of content, but once again Milestone fail to make the game playable upon release. You should not need to restart an application several times in a row just to achieve a constant framerate.

I am also slightly confused why the sound quality and overall physics have been downgraded from the MotoGP series, especially with the Valentino Rossi game – which is basically another Milestone bike game that came out this year – exhibiting a much different style of play. Look, I’m aware that both titles were intended for different audiences; Valentino Rossi was essentially MotoGP 16, whereas Ride 2 is more of a Gran Turismo on Two Wheels that has been built for a casual player base, but why would this justify a totally different sound mix or riding feel?

For example, Forza Motorsport 6, and Forza Horizon 2 do indeed operate with different sets of tire behavior because they are aimed at opposing markets, but it’s not like the Horizon games were completely neutered in the way Ride 2 has been compared to MotoGP 16. Horizon 2 still kinda drives like Forza 6, and even going back a few years, the original Horizon drove like Forza 4 to some extent. What purpose does heavily simplifying Ride 2 serve? I support the decision to maybe simplify the tire model, but then going the extra mile and taking all of the bumps out of the racing surfaces, along with restructuring the force feedback effects… That seems a bit pointless to me. Especially after inserting tracks like the Nordschleife and Dundrod into the lineup and making them out to be this insane challenge that highlights Ride 2’s career mode, only for them to be completely underwhelming. Visually, they look great, as you can see in the video above, but to ride around at speed it’s lame Milestone would tone them down a notch.

Above all, I think it’s disappointing that Milestone continue to release products that are more or less not performing at an optimal level on the PC. Look, if I currently owned a PS4, I’d have no problem taking a chance on the games these guys develop because they clearly run much better on consoles. However, I own a PC, and on paper it should be a bit more powerful than the current console lineup. It’s not fair as a customer for console owners to receive a product that functions properly, whereas PC owners who purchase a Milestone product are shit out of luck from launch day.

Reader Submission #103 – When Listening to the Fans Improves Quality

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It has taken many years to get to this point, but according to recent critical reception of the official Valentino Rossi/MotoGP 16 title by Milestone, the Italian team notorious for half-assed quasi-simulators have accomplished the impossible and released an objectively satisfying product. Finally achieving the level of quality early Milestone releases such as Superbike 2001, Valentino Rossi: The Game appears to be something motorcycle fans can genuinely get excited about, and it’s all thanks to the community’s feedback. Today’s Reader Submission from previous PRC.net contributor and Australian SuperKart driver Tyler W. takes a look at what the sim racing scene can learn from this stunning twist of events.


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Hey PRC, I thought I’d drop you guys another reader submission since I didn’t have much else on the schedule today. I came across something I doubt any of us would have expected this year, something that will shock pretty much every sim racer who comes to this place on a regular basis: Milestone has made a game that a lot of people seem to like. I’m not kidding.

Currently, Valentino Rossi: The Game is the most well-received game the company has ever released, with Metacritic displaying it at an astonishing 81 out of 100. That’s just a few points lower than Project CARS or Assetto Corsa, and ranked higher than the previous three Codemasters Formula One installments. And if you don’t believe me, the once angry comment section on the MotoGP Video Game Facebook page, a place traditionally filled with bug fixing demands and such, has now become a beacon of praise for Milestone’s efforts. What the hell happened, and how did Milestone go from a mediocre offering with Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, to such a polished game involving not just bikes, but rally and drift cars as well?

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I haven’t personally played it yet, so I can’t accurately give you a thorough simulation value index rating, but I’d like to address something especially important here. If you look at Milestone’s Facebook page, since the game’s announcement Milestone have done something they haven’t done in the past – interact with their customers. Sure, they would say “sorry for your experience” and “we’re working on a fix” with previous iterations of their games, but this time they actually involved some portions of the community. An example was one user pointing out some incorrect textures on the Jerez circuit. Instead of ignoring it, Milestone were right on it and fixed it. They also released gameplay screenshots, bikes included, and responded to comments that concerned previous game bugs and release dates. It seemed like less of a calculated PR move, and more of a genuine attempt to actually listen to their fans.

Now, and I hate to go against what I’m saying, this could be mainly because they might care an extra amount due to the Rossi name being involved, and being passionate Italian MotoGP fans themselves, but think about it – not a lot of people are complaining about a Milestone product for once. So I’m left wondering why that is, and I can only think of one reasonable answer:

People can’t complain about bugs and missing features if there are minimal bugs and minimal missing features

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On the contrary, we have Codemasters. Yes, they’ve shown off F1 2016. Yes, it looks like a slight improvement. Yes, career mode is back and the game is now half of what F1 2015 should have been at launch. But communication? Still nothing. Only a few days ago did they release some promotional footage of Daniel Ricciardo and Joyilon Palmer lapping the Baku circuit. Before that, was precisely one Q&A session. Hell, early footage that was shown from their E3 booth was demonstrated by amateurs who have probably never played anything other than Burnout or Mario Kart in their lives. Seriously, they wonder why their fanbase are leaking beta footage, even with NDA’s in effect, and yet the answer is in plain sight: When customers get antsy and frustrated, if they get an opportunity to show some precious gameplay, they’re probably gonna do it.

I may just be rambling at this point, but think about it: DiRT Rally and Valentino Rossi: The Game have used community feedback to guide them in the right path, and it’s worked considering DiRT Rally was labelled by PRC.net as the best sim of 2015, and the Valentino Rossi title is critically speaking the best Milestone product ever. Meanwile, Codemasters, Slightly Mad Studios, and Kunos have repeatedly ignored or selectively filtered feedback for some time now, and it’s shown to not work with F1 2015 being a mess, Project CARS being a buggy and broken mess, and Assetto Corsa looking like it may have a troubled console launch. I for one hope this method now catches on with developers genuinely listening to what people want to buy, and how they can improve the game before release. If Milestone of all people can benefit from this approach, so can others.


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Your reasoning as to why both DiRT Rally and Valentino Rossi 16 succeeded is definitely headed in the right direction, but there’s a bit more I can add to it. Not only did Codemasters and Milestone actively seek the community’s feedback when developing both titles, they essentially put the community directly into the drivers seat and treated them as equals. Codemasters and Milestone developers weren’t showing up on the various social media outlets discussing their products solely to belittle, argue, and act in a condescending manner towards their customers – it was quite the opposite.

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In fact, I remember back during DiRT Rally’s development, some dude made like a ten minute video explaining how he felt the force feedback effects should evolve from the current version, and Codemasters called his ass up on Skype the next day and proceeded to have a two hour phone call with the guy, just to pick his brain. Meanwhile, if you ventured over to the Project CARS forums at around the same time, it was basically Ian Bell telling people off on a regular basis for pointing out issues with the game, and unfortunately the same environment is now present in several other official forums for other modern racing simulators as well.

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Because when you think about it, every sim racing development team actively asks for the community’s feedback. Everybody has their own official forum where your average customer can make a long-winded post about the game, and within a day or so somebody from the development team will show up to have a chat. The main problem arising is that a lot of developers, such as the iRacing team, Kunos, and Slightly Mad Studios, act like an egotistical rock band and throw hissy fits on par with those of Axl Rose during the height of Guns ‘N Roses. They all ask for feedback, but suddenly make excuses to dismiss 90% of what gets posted, only allowing reception from the leftist nu-male cucks to resonate with them. Codemasters, Milestone, and I guess I should throw Sector 3 into this list, aren’t content with letting the brown nosing apologists merely enforce the fantasy world some developers live in.

The quality of the end product speaks volumes, as you mentioned in the submission. DiRT Rally made a whole bunch of people in the community shit their pants, both literally and figuratively. Milestone, a company notorious for entirely forgettable titles, pushed out something that is objectively worth a purchase. And Sector 3 took a Free to Play title that was on almost nobody’s radar, and turned it into something that’s not quite GTR 3, but it’s approaching that point at a rapid pace. Meanwhile, Project CARS became the punchline of many sim racing forum jokes, Assetto Corsa’s console launch is something many are keeping their eyes on partially for the drama, and now that we’ve provided an outlet to express criticism away from fanboys, people aren’t all that thrilled about the physics in iRacing, either.

Unfortunately, you aren’t going to fix ego problems no matter how many bug videos you throw at Ian Bell, no matter how many real world drivers privately bash iRacing, and no matter how many experienced physics modders offer, so the only way to combat the Axl Rose effect is to show your gratitude towards how the other developers are treating their fans, and not put up with any online temper tantrum just because they have Staff under their username.