If there’s any video game development team who know how to deliver a decent motorcycle racing experience, it’s the Milestone team. After all, it is they who have provided multiple options with the RIDE series, the Monster Energy Supercross franchise, and the official game of the MotoGP. And with years of two-wheeled racing knowledge behind them, they’ve pulled out all the stops with their latest MotoGP title. The question is, does MotoGP 20 have what it takes to share the same tarmac as its competitors?
By golly yes it does, and then some, as this is a thrilling bike racer which manages to provide a whole ton of opportunity. Yet for as good as it is, and whilst there is little to not like about the latest iteration in the MotoGP brand, much like its predecessors it may well only appeal to the hardcore leather-clad racing fans.
MotoGP 20 promises to deliver the most complete motorcycle racing experience yet, with Milestone bigging up the deep career mode that is the meat and drink of the whole experience. But cleverly they’ve also provided enough variety in the other game modes to ensure that those looking for a quick two-wheeled fix can get it, allowing anyone who doesn’t want to delve into the advanced nitty-gritty oily lifestyle of a pro racer to still be able to get a good amount of fun out of what is included.
The career is the big draw here though, and no matter whether you go straight in with the big dogs of the MotoGP series, or prefer to build your way up through the ranks via Moto3, this is a highly immersive experience. It’s not just enough in MotoGP 20 to spend time working your magic on the track, as what you do off it is just as vital here. Moving through a calendar that spans an entire year and the usual race types, you’ll have to plan talks with your manager, direct the technical staff behind the scenes, and assign funds to specific R&D roles to those working in your team. Upgrading and enhancing both your team and your bike as the weeks progress will see you being able to properly compete. Due to this, the career in MotoGP 20 is a hugely in-depth affair, one that may push away those just looking to get racing. But spend time in the multitude of menus, working out how best to ensure your team – and your bike – can work optimally, and you’ll most certainly reap the rewards.
This is shown mostly as you hit the track, with race weekends full of potential. Free practice sessions will let you help the team work on a variety of ideas, with development tests and research points precious to your success. Moving into the qualifying sessions and then on to the race proper are obviously where things play out the most though, and the proper points and cash rewards come up for grabs, yet thankfully taking to the track with MotoGP 20 is never a chore.
As with many other bike racers, you’ll certainly need to work at winning. In fact, it is pretty safe to say that anyone going in fresh here, green to the scene, will find themselves off-track and scrabbling around in the gravel at near on every corner. Getting the balance right between hard throttle and deep braking is tricky, but work at things, or play around with the host of individual settings that allow for the game to become easier or harder as you see fit, and in next to no time you’ll be found giving the well-respected AI a run for their money. You’ll have to be on your game too, constantly fiddling with a variety of different bike settings from corner to corner, delivering more power when it is needed and saving fuel to ensure optimum weight levels, because those who compete for the same track tarmac as you will rarely hide.
Should you like your bike racing, you’ll love everything about the career. But alongside that are a few other well-placed options: racing staples like time trials, one-off championships and separate Grand Prix events. These all pretty much do as you would expect of them – they are no-frills affairs which allow anyone who wants to jump into the action quickly, testing their bike handling skills against others, the opportunity to do so. It’s just MotoGP 20 has one more big trick up it’s sleeve – the Historic mode.
The Historic mode in MotoGP 20 is, quite frankly, hugely appealing, and in the right hands could well be as much of an adrenaline hit as the likes of building a FIFA 20 Ultimate Team or Madden squad. A set of daily, randomly generated races play host to your time in the Historic mode, as you choose your favourite rider and take on the challenges set by Milestone each and every day. Do well – which mostly consists of you finding a place on the podium – and you’ll be rewarded with in-game currency – in this case, diamonds. These can then be used to purchase historic riders and teams from the marketplace, building up your collection as you go and being able to then utilise these pick-ups in future events. If you loved watching Valentino Rossi from back in 2006, then you can now race as him. Similarly, if you adored the livery of the Ducati team from 2004, you can buy your way in. With a sticker book style collection in place, earning the required cash in order to purchase your favourite riders or teams is an intriguing one, keeping you going back for more on a daily basis. The only issue I have with this brilliant mode though is the difficulty it brings; with easy, intermediate and difficult challenges on offer, it may well fall to only the very best of the best being able to discover their favourite riders.
With the single player options deep, there is also the obvious inclusion of online multiplayer aspects, and these work very well indeed. Populated with racers on every single occasion that I’ve felt the need to go up against the online world, the smooth, fast racing that is present offline translates well here, with multiple lobby options available to all. Dedicated servers handle all the juicy bits of this, and it shows, catering for up to 12 racers at one time with rarely a drop or lag in the action. Further to that, anyone wishing to just oversee matters is able to create a distinct Race Director role, before letting the action unfold.
The racing is obviously the star of the show with everything that MotoGP 20 does, and it has to be said that as, a bike racer, it feels great. Yet thanks to an enhancement in the physics and visuals, it all looks superb too. Bikes sparkle, riders glow, and the circuits that we find ourselves visiting rarely fail to astonish, no matter whether we are taking to the track in the dry, the wet, or anything in-between. With all the official MotoGP staples like Silverstone, Mugello, Austria’s Red Bull Ring, Assen in the Netherlands and good old Le Mans all present, it’s a biker’s dream in terms of circuits. This is even more so when you include the historical options in Donington’s 2015 layout and the iconic Laguna Seca.
It sounds superb too, with engines roaring, tyres squealing and crashes… well, you know the drill. In terms of when you do lose grip and end up ripping your leathers in MotoGP, Milestone have excelled once more, with an excellent cutaway to the rider’s point of view as you clatter into the gravel. It has to be said, in fact, that presentation on the whole is very high, right down to the TV-style race broadcasts, and the commentary as you leave the pits and head to the grid. I really can’t fault the development team for any of these moments. And then just to sweeten the deal some more and allow even more depth to what it brings, you can also throw in plenty of visual customisation options too, letting you create brand new projects in terms of rider and team look, helmet liveries, numbers, rider stickers and more. Again, much like everything else included here, what you get out of MotoGP 20 all depends on how much you decide to put in.
I’m finding it hard to fault Milestone for what they’ve produced with MotoGP 20 on Xbox One. With multiple game modes, a career which is as deep and immersive as you want it to be, and an online offering which has so far worked flawlessly, there has hardly been a wheel misplaced in the development of this latest racer. Perhaps it still won’t appeal to those outside of the racing scene, and it’s certainly a lot trickier to get to grips with then a standard four-wheeled racer, but spend time kitted out in your leathers and sat astride a throbbing big machine, and you’ll discover plenty of joy with MotoGP 20.