Driveclub Bikes Review

Life on two wheels.

Driveclub Bikes is an expansion pack quite unlike those that have gone before in DriveClub’s Season Pass. The clue is in the title, with a roster of some of the world’s best superbikes that can either be bought as a tangential addition to the main game or as a standalone release that borrows heavily from its parent game.

Ranging from Ducati to Yamaha and Honda, BMW to KTM and Bimota, even to the untrained eye it’s clear that the 12 bikes in the game are some of the most startlingly fast in existence, and there are more on the way. Recreated in the same exquisite detail as Evolution lavished on their array of cars, but kept as a separate entity, they are gorgeous to look at and all sound fantastic as you hare down the roads and tracks of the game.

Much more importantly, they feel just right when you take them for a spin. Pulling away from a standing start, the traction control noticeably struggles to control the power being fed through the rear wheel, to prevent you from tipping over backwards, being too energetic with the throttle through a corner sees the rear wheel try to slide out from underneath you, and there’s Driveclub’s excellent sense of speed as you all too rapidly blaze past the 100mph mark, which is especially true when playing in one of the first person or front bumper views.

It never punishes you from lacking an ounce of finesse, and you will never lose control and come off your bike regardless of how much you overcook a corner. At worst you might collide too hard with a wall and see the Driveclub logo flash as you are reset to the screen, but it’s forgiving in the name of letting you have fun, resulting in something that feels a degree more arcade-like than driving the game’s cars.

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You will still need to master how to drive a bike in order to succeed. Every corner wants you to handle it with a deft touch and grace, to know how to carry the momentum and turn in early enough for a nice, smooth curve that clips the apex. It takes a little while to get used to, and it’s a task much easier to accomplish in third person view – and you will be faster in this view as a consequence – but it can be a joy to learn.

In fact, it’s more a case of re-learning, as this expansion doesn’t add any new locations or tracks to Driveclub’s existing selection. The oft sweeping curves and turns of the tracks and roads that weave through the countryside of the five countries provide an excellent match to the way the bikes handle, but Bikes also benefits from the year of updates and additions to Driveclub. It’s the game that Driveclub should have been at launch, you could rightly say, with weather effects, the best in class photo mode, saving replays and now, in the latest update, private online lobbies.

What people will most likely dive into first is the new tour, spread across 42 events that show off the various bikes and let you quickly level up your reputation earnt with them to unlock the next in line. There’s your usual array of races, time trials and short championships to work through, against the admittedly weak AI, but where the cars have drift challenges, the bikes have skill events.

They’re really quite addictive and certainly far more enjoyable than trying to drift around in Hypercars with traction control and ABS turned on. Taking short snippets of track, they test your ability to pull of wheelies, stoppies and besting speed traps, all as a clock counts down to zero. With just 20-30 seconds of action and the compulsiveness of trying to absolutely perfect a series of these mini challenges, I found myself restarting and repeating them dozens of times to try and climb the leaderboards and beat my friends’ scores.

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That score or time chase remains at the heart of Driveclub’s online offering, as you can quickly share and challenge your friends to best your high water-mark. Yet, alongside the somewhat superfluous clubs system, it’s also one of the least fleshed out parts of the game. In creating a challenge, I want to be able to determine the exact mini-challenges my rivals must try to beat, I even wish I could choose my own wheelie and stoppie zones, or create three race championships with a time target at the end. Those capabilities sadly remain only in the hands of Evolution, and it hampers the community’s possibilities.

Online racing is just what you would expect, but with bikes the width of a human being, you’re far less prone to crashing into an opponent as you both demand to occupy the same stretch of road. Bumps and grinds – when fellow racers haven’t been reduced to floating names for having subpar connections – are less terminal to your racing prospects, but can still affect the outcome of the race,

The new private lobbies are a boon in that regard, giving you the freedom to set up a race or time trial with all the track settings from solo play, before letting you tweak the rules and restrictions to make it a team race, enforce a particular camera or whatever else you fancy. The only problem I saw was that my game crashed three times in a row during the first lap of successive private races. Nobody else in the lobby was affected, however, and I was able to race in regular lobbies without issue, leading me to believe this was an isolated and freak occurrence.

What’s Good:

  • Great handling model.
  • A selection of superbikes recreated in gorgeous detail.
  • Brings forward the best features of Driveclub, from graphics, to photo mode and beyond.
  • Continued post launch support with more bikes and events on the way.

What’s Bad:

  • Only a single class of bikes to be found.
  • No added tracks and fails to use Sprint mode in the tour.
  • Challenges and clubs still feel underdeveloped.
  • Handling is almost too forgiving and AI generally too easy.

In some ways, Driveclub Bikes is Evolution and Sony’s opportunity to rehabilitate DriveClub’s image in the eyes of the public, just as The Taken King redeemed many of the flaws of Destiny. Outside of the online issues that persisted for far, far too long, it was hardly a bad game, and it’s excellent and rewarding handling model has effortlessly been replicated with the bikes. Whether you want to pick up the main game on the cheap, grab the generous and expansive season pass of DLC or dabble with Bikes, it’s never been a better time to jump into Driveclub and get racing.

Score 8/10

27 Comments

  1. Spot on review. I’ve never been that into bikes, but once I got used to the handling, I really enjoyed it.

    The Skill Challenges are a lot more fun than the Drift Challenges, & probably a lot easier. What worries me is going back to driving cars, it’ll be like learning to drive again after spending a few days on the motorbikes,

    Now the game has private lobbies, if there’s any ‘meets’ & I’m about, count me in. You may think I’m rubbish, but its because I like to give people a head start ;)

    • There’s always some racing games on a Monday night, and private lobbies mean Driveclub’s now going to be joining that set up. Just get THLNetwork and/or Tonyyeb added as friends. They’re the most regular by far.

      • Ok, cheers.

      • Yup everyone welcome, no matter the ability level… Also there is the TMER (TSA Monday Evening Racing) community where we post all PS racing stuff and meet info :)

    • The PS4 communities thing has an option for setting up parties which get displayed to the community (and possibly everyone else too, which seems an oversight).

      If you don’t want to wait for someone to organise something, why not set up one of those and see who joins in for some random fun?

      It’s one of those features that should be useful, but I’m not sure people have even noticed it’s there. It’s the icon with the poorly constructed house and a headset. Press up on the community screen until you get it. And hit L1 to get to the “now playing” tab to see the parties.

      We’ve got 160 members there. You should be able to get some interest. Maybe.

  2. It was a clever way for Evolution to expand on the game. I’ve never gotten on well with bike games but i have to say i’m tempted to pick this up. If nothing else at least i’ll have some new photo opportunites – but the selection of bikes seems small so far so i might wait and see how things develop.

    • Yeah, I’d have liked to see a lower tier of bikes in addition to these 12, but there’s a free expansion coming on the 17th which will have an extra two bikes, so it’s pretty clear that this is far from the end of the road for the game.

      • Ooh – i forgot to add – i saw Rushy’s twitter feed yesterday and he mentioned there might be a bikes demo on the way – that’ll probably help me decide!

    • Best photo opportunities come from somehow getting a big pole jammed through your bike and taking it for a ride. Seems to happen quite regularly. But that could just be me being a bit crap at it and spending too much time crashing into roadside obstacles.

      • You’ll be posting some photographic evidence of this i presume.. ? ;)

      • I forgot to take a photo of it. But I’ll try and do it again later.

        The big poles are quite easy to hit, but trying to get it in and ride it is a bit harder.

      • Phrasing.

      • Indeed tef, one the best “innocently” constructed innuendo ridden posts I’ve read on here in a long time….up there with some of bunimo’s big hitters! :P

      • Cracking review btw dude ;)

      • Ah right, “Phrasing”. That sounds much better than “i’m not sure i want to see a picture of that!” ;)

  3. “It never punishes you from lacking an ounce of finesse, and you will never lose control and come off your bike regardless of how much you overcook a corner”.

    True, but in one of my first races I did have a tank slapper though I’ve never managed to recreate the moment.

    • Tank Slapper??

      Not sure what that is, but would probably make for some interesting results if googled!

      • As I’m never one to avoid googling just about anything, since the results are generally either arousing or hillariously wrong…

        It’s a thing, apparently. The front wheels flapping about all over the place at between 4 and 10Hz. Due to seemingly quite complicated physics when the front wheel wants to go in a different direction to the back wheel and forces push the wheel back to where it should be, but go to far before it gets pushed back the other way.

        I’m impressed if you can actually do that in the game. Sounds like some impressive physics they’ve got going on. Or it’s something that just happens to come out of some really simple physics, in which case it must be simple but accurate physics they’re using.

      • Several racing games feature it, although it’s the tough games where you can feel the weight of the car where it is most prevalent.

      • Tank Slappers are frightening things, caused by – as MrYd says – the bike’s front wheel wanting to fall from under you but the bike’s motion (through the rear driving wheel) wants to carry you forward.

        The tank slapper bit is because your handle bars (with hands – hopefully!) obviously rock back and forward vigorously (in-line with the front wheel) almost touching – hence “slapping” – the tank each time, as the front wheel tries to find grip! I managed to catch a particularly nasty one once, at speed, and bring the bike to a stand-still a couple of feet from an ASDA wall!

  4. Looks fun, might get it when it goes on sale. Although thinking this might end up on PS+ eventually. Never can tell.

    • Sale?! It’s a steal at £15 anyway and a no brainer addition at £12. If you wait for every game that “looks fun” to come on Plus you’ll probably be very disappointed more often than not.

      • Yeah of course. Opinions, personal tastes, sense of value, they’re all overrated :/

      • Ok put it in the current PSN November 40% off sale… makes in £9. Is £6 difference really a deal breaker on a game that if you just do the tour events will give you 15 hours play time. Then you have single events, multiplayer, skill challenges, unlocking different bikes, the FREE DLC that has already been announced…

      • I’m just talking about personal taste. I rate a racing game at £30 better value than a RPG for £20, even though the latter will give far more hours of play time. Unless I’ve got a big pool of money to try everything, I’ll leave some things until their cheaper.

        Don’t even ask me about the six pound difference. For some reason I’ll dismiss a certain game at say £14, preferring it at a tenner instead. Not sure the £4 would matter sometimes if it had the content, it’s just I won’t spend more than I think I should (note that I’m a cheapskate too).

      • Aye, it is a good price, but as Avenger skillfully explains, it’s not really the genre I tend to go in for. I’m not usually into racing games, so unless it’s Rollcage or Wipeout, I need to wait for it to dip under the ten quid mark for me to be prepared to take the jump. Plus, I try to avoid buying games on release if I can afford it, probably pre-order about two games in a year.

  5. Just finished this last night and Monday evenings shall be very fun with the private lobbies too.

    I must say, with the amount of updates, free stuff, the best value season pass in town and bikes, Driveclub is a no brainer.

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