Although real life racing events aren’t happening at the moment, we can take to the digital tracks with MotoGP 20 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch. We played the PS4 version for this review.
MotoGP 20 is developed by Milestone, who previously developed the WRC games for Bigben (now Nacon). Since their departure from that franchise, they’ve mostly focused on motorcycle-based games like the Monster Energy Supercross and MXGP series. The MotoGP franchise is the least arcade-like of their current franchises, digitally recreating what is essentially the Formula 1 of two-wheeled racing.
As expected, the game has been updated to include the 2020 roster of riders and tracks, though it’s worth pointing out that you’re not limited to just the MotoGP riders – you also get all the Moto2 and Moto3 riders, who race on the same circuits. Since the track roster doesn’t change much on a year to year basis there aren’t any big changes there, but there is a new track to play with the KymiRing in Finland. The actual race is still scheduled for July, but at least there’s nothing keeping us from exploring it digitally. We will be getting an update to the liveries once the actual season gets underway, and this summer Milestone will also add the (all-electric) MotoE class to the game.
What’s nice about the roster, especially for more casual followers of the sport, is that several high profile riders from the past have also been included. This includes newly added legends from the past like Mick Doohan and Casey Stoner as well as riders from more recent years, so there’s something for everyone if you’re been following the sport for a while. They mostly star in the game’s historic mode, which has been expanded to include more challenges than ever before.
MotoGP’s visuals were overhauled a few years ago when the PS3/X360 generation was left behind, and each new iteration saw incremental improvements to the visuals. While the improved visuals are hard to spot when just looking at the track, the weather effects are very impressive and the biggest improvements were applied to the 3D models for the riders and their managers – the latter who now have facial animations that no longer feel out of place with the current generation of consoles. If you want to move beyond the core set of visual assets then you have the option to customize your look with a custom rider as well using a fairly basic editor.
You have several options when it comes to racing a career/season – either sticking with the existing roster for the new season and assuming the role of one of the riders or starting from scratch with more emphasis on the managerial side of things. The latter is an area that has received a lot of attention in MotoGP 20, and while it doesn’t provide the narrative drama of some of EA and 2K’s campaigns there’s a lot for bike lovers to enjoy here.
This is especially true if you are into the technical side of motorbike racing, with a lot of options to tweak a bike’s handling and performance. From raw power to aerodynamics, there are a lot of options to choose from and tailor to your personal preferences and riding style. I even found myself making strategic changes, as I felt like I was losing ground on the straights and needed more power. I lose a bit of momentum in the corners, but keeping the door shut there provided me with better chances to seal wins on tracks with a lot of straight elements. In the end, this resulted in a completely different riding style as I was focused on championship points rather than just riding for the win with the same setup for each race.
The AI needs a bit of tweaking though, since it feels inconsistent across the different race classes that are included. Moto3 and Moto2 feel too easy, and the jump to MotoGP required me to dial down the difficulty level. You can also compete against human players by going online, though sadly there’s no split screen option for local multiplayer. Controls and riding assist options are available, though it’s worth noting that MotoGP is more sim-like than some of the bike racers out there – applying the brakes at the right time comes with a learning curve for newcomers.
MotoGP 20 is a solid new entry in the franchise for Milestone, with improvements in a range of areas. It’s also the only way we can enjoy the new season at this time, which makes it especially interesting for fans.