Supercross 4 Review: Gameplay Videos, Features and Impressions

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2021


Monster Energy Supercross 4 represents a turning point for the now long-running series from developer Milestone.  

The series spent its last few iterations fine-tuning things such as physics and gameplay while making sure the multiplayer side of things nailed down community track sharing and dedicated servers. 

Still, the series has thrived for its on-course performance and not for its overall feature set. That changes in 2021 as Milestone's racer moves into the next generation, which means more horsepower and new features. 

The question remains the same—is it enough to woo newcomers and annual players alike?


Graphics and Gameplay

Even without a next-generation bump, the Monster Energy Supercross series has done a good job visually. 

Racers have always sported good details and smaller items like jersey movement, the vehicles themselves have always been glossy eye-candy and the tracks have degraded well over time in response to the race and Mother Nature itself. 

Consider that all amped to 10 on next-generation consoles and PC this year. Visuals look better than ever and paired with the excellent sound design, riders feel smaller than ever in big stadiums, and the sense of speed is only improved. 

What the series has struggled with in the past is actual immersion, though. Some of that is addressed here. Crowds are loud and move well enough from distance. Stadiums boast critical attention to detail, like the banners in the rafters of specific teams and realistic video boards players can see themselves in as they work on the track. In first-person mode, rain on goggles and bits of mud spray make for key notable features. 

Still, immersion isn't perfect. There still isn't a lot of beef on the career mode when it comes to cutscenes. There are some new little things before the race, but otherwise, it's just some fireworks and not too much of a broadcast feel. 

But as usual, some of those presentation issues fade when considering the gameplay. It's again weighty and responsive, with what feels like an even greater attention to the types of feedback offered by different surfaces. 

While last year's game felt like it slanted more toward an arcade approach, this one feels a tad more grounded. Track degradation is again a major factor to consider when blinding down the straights and into big turns or trying to micromanage a series of jumps in a sea of competitors. 

Another noteworthy item is rider A.I., which hasn't always been the best in the past. Oftentimes it could feel like opponents didn't really make mistakes unless encouraged by the player, which gave things a robotic feel. Either the A.I. tuning or something else has changed because opposing riders seem to make more mistakes now, which is as it should be given how random a race can be at times.

As always, assists are on the menu, which help the player tilt the game more toward simulation or back toward arcade, complete with the expected rewind function. It's still rewarding to work toward improving, then tick off more of the assists. Of course, leaving them all on is an option for those players who don't want to worry about rider-bike balance. 

Overall, there is a more strategic feel to the gameplay now, as the key to reaching a podium finish is thinking two or three steps ahead based on what the track presents. Even thinking laps ahead based on how, say, rain is creating muddy ruts around bends, is a key to succeeding. 

Keep in mind gameplay is boosted across all platforms on next-generation consoles thanks to the additional horsepower, which means a smooth 60 frames per second in different resolutions. 


Career Mode and More

One of the biggest points Milestone has focused on for the arrival of the next generation is more features for the popular career mode. 

In this iteration, players start as a "Futures" rider with the goal of working up to rookie and pro statuses through skill-tree upgrades and winning during a season. 

That new skill tree is extensive, with an ability like cornering having multiple items to upgrade over a number of modules in the futures, rookie and pro sections. There are multiple different categories with these modules spanning things like braking and overall control, whether in the air or on the ground. 

Players can tackle events, training and objectives in a journal to earn skill points. Given the variety of challengers players face in each big race, it's easy to presume most players will simply take a measured approach to investing skill points instead of specializing only in one thing. But still, it's nice to have the option. 

That journal is one of the bigger talking points of this year's release, and while it's not anything fancy, it's also staggering in the number of items on the checklist. For example, completing 200 jumps while racing offers skill points. If nothing else, it's nice to gradually earn skill upgrades as a reward for simple time investment. 

Creating a rider on the game's initial launch still isn't the most extensive process. But there's enough in the way of different faces and hairstyles to make a noteworthy character. There's also a prompt early in the creation process to pick a custom celebration for a top-three finish, which is a nice touch to help players stand out more. 

Elsewhere on the customization front, this latest entry in the series again feels like a love letter of sorts to the sport. Players can dig deep into performance alterations all over the place, including things like handguards, saddles, grips and more. 

In this sense, it does feel like a bigger release this time out, with more than 100 riders across different divisions such as 450SX and 250SX. Ditto for courses, with the 11 stadiums and their assortment of tracks numbering at nearly 20 total. 

Also big on the checklist this year is a brand new compound, the open-world area for players to explore, work on skills and partake in races. This time it's based on parts of Maine, which means a gorgeous coast of a backdrop while racing through the pine trees and past interesting worn-down stone architecture.

The compound also boasts some collectibles to uncover, which lead to some small unlockables. If nothing else, it's refreshing that a deeper bit of exploration of the giant open space is encouraged by this. Players can also bring in up to three friends for some varied action, be it free-roam or competitive. 

And while players could point out that the Compound free-roam area isn't the most impressive thing in the world, the alternative is a racing game with a limited number of tracks and events. Which is to say it's refreshing that such an idea even came to life and a welcome one as it provides some much-needed variety. 

New options have been added to the core of the track editor experience. Things like starting structures have new options that mix up the usual formula, even if the list of items isn't huge. As in the past, players can take their creations online via an uploading process. Given the wealth of new pieces available, it should again be fun to see what the community can come up with—plus add longevity to the game's lifecycle. 

As in the past, Monster Energy Supercross 4 boasts dedicated servers to offer up a smooth online experience. The overall suite is good enough to get players in and keep them playing, with a lobby browser, private lobbies and the race director back on the menu. That last item still feels like it's the most appealing because of the way the director is able to come up with some creative experiences by tweaking things like physics. 



Monster Energy Supercross 4 doesn't take any great risks while riding into the next console generation. 

But it didn't really need to based on the solid gameplay foundation laid in the past. A slightly more grounded feel, some clear improvements in A.I. and more modern options in the career and the Compound make for a nice package. 

Right now, this fourth offering is the best yet in the series. There are some obvious areas of refinement that need to happen in the future, such as an expanded presentation. But the gameplay is tuned well and the emphasis on multiplayer continues to be a strong point for the series.