First things first: whoever was dumb enough to call this Driveclub Bikes instead of Rideclub really missed an opportunity here. This standalone(ish) expansion on top of the existing Driveclub is for one very specific set of gamers. That being, those people still playing… who also like motorcycle racing.
Driveclub Bikes changes nothing about the experience of the original. Clubs are still ever present, as are events, Tour mode and so on. The only difference, really, is that you’re racing on 1 of 12 bikes rather than in a car. Driveclub Bikes doesn’t even add a solitary new track and so players will be racing on the same 78 that shipped over a year ago. Don’t expect to tinker with your bike either; modifications and customisation restricted to the paintwork and your rider’s helmet.
Only adding 12 new bikes and no new tracks seems somewhat miserly, but there’s still a wealth of content to play here and like Driveclub, this expansion is really difficult. The bikes handle vastly differently from the cars and are hugely speedier, meaning it took more than a few laps to acclimate to the new vehicles. With all the driving assists in it is marginally easier, but don’t expect an easy time of it for as for the most part Driveclub is quite punishing.
Initially, Driveclub Bikes offers you one bike to tool around on and after an eternity you’ll unlock your next one and so on. Each new bike is unlocked by reaching a certain level on a previous one, but since it takes so long, unlocking the final and top tier bikes is going to take a lot of riding. When there are only a handful of event types, including the new trick mode, I found it hard to play for extended sessions. On the subject of the new trick mode, players are tasked with accumulating a massive score by pulling off wheelies and stoppies within trick zones and speeding along the track, racing against the clock. It’s a fun mode at first, but my limited skills and lack of any improvement saw me grow tired of it.
It struck me — more so then when driving cars — that Driveclub has a crisis of self. It’s unsure if it’s a sim or an arcade racer and seemingly tries to be both. It doesn’t really work.It’s too ‘simmy’ to be an arcade racer and too ‘arcadey’ to be a sim. Turning off and on the assists can nudge it in the direction you want, but it never goes the whole hog in either direction. This doesn’t mean it can’t be a good time or challenging, but fans of either genre may be turned off by its refusal to commit to one or the other.
Another fundamental issue is the lack of any real sense of purpose. Stars are thrown around willy-nilly while playing; at first it seems like constant progress is being made, but it’s actually the opposite. To unlock anything — be it events, races or more bikes — it takes an obscene number of stars. Die-hard racers will have no troubles, but filthy casuals will get bored or discouraged before they get too far.
For only $23 AUD, Driveclub Bikes is a decent expansion, but only for Driveclub fans or racing fans desperate for something more on their PS4. It could fill the hole until GT Sport is released, but if you’ve already had enough of Driveclub, this one’s probably not for you.
Driveclub Bikes was reviewed using a promotional copy on PS4, as provided by the publisher.