Monster Energy Supercross 4 may satisfy the needs of SX fans. But for the players Milestone hopes to attract to its franchise who have no knowledge or previous interest in the dirt-bike circuit, Monster Energy Supercross 4 is a hard ask.
Milestone, the developers behind Monster Energy Supercross 4, which ties into a rather niche sport, face something of a quandary, it seems.
On the on the one hand, they’ve got to satisfy the needs and demands of their core audience who want an authentic rush that reflects the one they experience when watching their chosen sport on television – or better yet, live.
On the other, the metric for any piece of entertainment’s success is sales, so developers tend to cast their net wide, making their game as accessible to the newbies as possible.
It’s easier to do this with some sports – FIFA leaps to mind – than it is with others – we wait with trepidation for the next MotoGP instalment.
This is a line that Monster Energy Supercross 4 has difficulty straddling. For all I know, veterans from the last three instalments in this series will slot into the action like ducks returning to water. For a noob such as myself – I have little to no interest in Supercross (or most motorsports for that matter) – the opening couple of hours playing the game was something of a war of attrition.
Monster Energy Supercross 4’s massive learning curve
The game funnels players towards the Career Mode, which is placed front and centre on its rather pretty menu. After facing some loading screens in which EDM blasts from the speakers (not a fan, in case you hadn’t guessed), players will compete in the first few races in which their AI opponents are so combative, they do everything except kick them off their bike.
As was mentioned, players who are fans of this series won’t battle as much as newbies because, apart from your aggressive fellow riders, you’ll have to get to grips with staying on the track, timing bike throttle against jumps, leaning into corners at just the right speed (braking leads to the pack breaking away from you) and a sensitive physics engine that needs to be handled delicately.
This isn’t an arcade racer by any stretch; aside from having to control your rider’s body movements while at the same time successfully piloting your bike, you might want to (amongst other things) toggle its front and rear springs to ensure the balance suits your style of riding.
To top this all off, players will find that Monster Energy Supercross 4 boasts an upgrade system in which players have to earn points in order to make their rider competitive. For newbies, this is likely to involve grinding through races to earn enough points in order to not continually finish last – as was the case with me for a couple of hours.
It’s not exactly the best way to attract the uninitiated to a game based on a niche sport – or even the sport itself. Watching opponents hurtling over jumps two stretches away isn’t encouraging. The tutorial isn’t exactly helpful, in case anyone is wondering.
Head to the Compound
Beyond Career and Tutorial, the game boasts a multiplayer mode, photo options, time trials and more, but the gem in this particular crown is Compound, which incidentally, is a much better tutorial than, well, the Tutorial mode.
Compound is a free-roam mode set on a small open-world template where players – and up to three friends they can invite – can have a consequence-free knock-around experience. The map isn’t huge, but it gives players the freedom to leap off hills, grind through tight corners and explore the game’s control system without having to worry if a bunch of AI opponents are going to lap them.
It’s fun, without deceiving players into believing they’re playing an arcade racer – which, to be clear, they are not. To be frank, it’s a mode that developer Milestone should probably use as a starting point for tutorial modes going forward. The reason? It’s fun for noobs, and if Milestone want to attract a bigger audience, this is probably the avenue the studio needs to explore.
Monster Energy Supercross 4’s – Verdict
I honestly can’t speak to whether Monster Energy Supercross 4 is a game that will satisfy the needs of SX fans. It’s likely, as mentioned before, that fans of this franchise will eat it up. But for the players Milestone hopes to attract to its franchise who have no knowledge or previous interest in the dirt-bike circuit, Monster Energy Supercross 4 is a hard ask.
Some may take to it. The rest, at best, will probably download their favourite entry in the Trials franchise and move on. If Milestone wants to widen its net, it needs to make more concessions to this audience. It needs to fix its bike.
- Monster Energy Supercross 4 was reviewed on an Xbox One.
- Review code was supplied by the publisher