Monster Energy Supercross 4 Review: Incredibly Deep With a Brutal Learning Curve

Monster Energy Supercross 4, the latest release from developer Milestone, provides the opportunity [...]

Monster Energy Supercross 4, the latest release from developer Milestone, provides the opportunity for fans to climb aboard a virtual dirt bike and pursue greatness at real tracks across the United States. The officially licensed supercross game offers a bevy of additions to spice up the experience, but there is one primary issue: Monster Energy Supercross 4 is incredibly thorough but difficult for newcomers to learn, especially when dealing with questionable physics.

The game features an in-depth career mode that puts a custom-created character through three different series. There is the Futures mode, a three-race series that serves as an introduction to the tracks and gameplay. The 250 West and 250 East make up the next step in the journey, offering more powerful bikes and even more tracks. Finally, there is the top-level 450 series that features the biggest names in the sport and the most powerful bikes.

While the career mode offers a wide assortment of unlockable gear for both your rider and your bike, it is extremely difficult to conquer. The AI easily outruns your rider in every event, even when set to "very easy," and purchasing expensive upgrades to your bike doesn't prevent the constant string of last-place finishes. Constantly losing creates another issue in that the 450 series remains locked until you achieve a podium finish in either 250 West or 250 East. You can access the top series through the Championship menu option, but it does not count toward your custom character's journey.

(Photo: Milestone)

Supercross 4 starts with a tutorial that explains the bare minimum of needed information before you tackle the career or multiplayer modes. It teaches you to hold in the clutch and rev the motor at the start of a race, as well as how to adjust your body weight while going around corners or over jumps. However, there is far more required knowledge that you can only learn through hours of trial and error. The tutorial never explains what scrubs or whips are or why they are critical to improving lap times.

Milestone does provide training sessions and one-off events that test your skills in a variety of ways, which you can use to earn extra skill points and more money. These range from passing other riders to navigating through some gates. These training sessions are helpful early on, but they still don't explain certain aspects of the game. For example, I had to pull up a YouTube video to learn how to do a whip before attempting an event that requires four whips in a short amount of time.

Fortunately, Milestone added a new mode in Compound that puts your rider in an open world inspired by the state of Maine. You can roam around this area alone or with a co-op partner, testing out your skills and searching for collectibles. This Compound doesn't feature any competitors, but there are some tracks to practice going over jumps and various obstacles. If the Compound is not appealing, Monster Energy Supercross 4 also features a track creator. You can take an existing arena shape and then fill it with an intricate assortment of obstacles and jumps before sharing it with the world.

Along with the steep learning curve, the game's physics can cause issues in a variety of ways, especially when fighting with other riders for position on the track. At times, your rider will slide around a corner and bump an opponent, causing the bike to zoom completely off the track. Other times, the bike will simply spin close to a dozen times while every other rider scoots by. Though the most egregious of the issues regularly occur when landing a jump.

Several times during each race, my rider landed on top of another competitor — bike and all — and bounce on their head while moving forward. The AI character did not crash or lose position on the track. Reverse the roles, however, and my rider crumpled to the ground after taking a wheel to the head while the AI character rode off. Milestone accounted for these physics issues and player mistakes by providing a limited number of rewinds, but they did not completely remove the frustration.

Monster Energy Supercross 4 is a game seemingly made for die-hard fans of the sport and the simulation series. The sheer depth of customization options, a massive roster, the new skill-point system, and a robust track editor provide several reasons for them to keep coming back for more sessions. Newcomers, however, will first have to spend several hours learning the systems and grinding to earn enough money and points to improve their rider and bike before finding much enjoyment.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Monster Energy Supercross 4 is currently available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, Google Stadia, and PC. A review code was provided by the publisher and it was reviewed on an Xbox Series X.