My first impression of MotoGP 20 as a newcomer to the series was that I was in for a rough ride, I was greeted with crash after crash before finally finding my feet and realising exactly what this game has to offer.
The gameplay, even on easy mode, can be brutal for first time players. The last thing you want to do is jump straight into a race with a top team and a fast bike as you’re almost guaranteed to come flying off the track on every corner as you get used to handling your new toy. As with any great game though, the more patience you have the more rewarding the gameplay experience will be. This is certainly the case with MotoGP 20.
Before I get into the brilliant gameplay on offer here for patient players, I will say that I would have appreciated some sort of tutorial. For a game which is quite difficult to master, having absolutely no explanation of where to start and what the controls are borders on unforgivable. It’s also worth pointing out that there’s no real pick up and play option for playing with friends, you either choose to master the game or you don’t, there’s no in-between.
If you do decide to stick with it though, the rewards are there for the taking. The first time I managed to qualify on the third row of the grid was a genuine punch the air in celebration moment as I’d felt I’d been through a lot to earn that spot. Once you’ve learnt how everything works, the handling of these bikes are outstanding. The difference between a small Moto3 bike and something like a stupidly fast Yamaha can genuinely be breathtaking. Attacking a corner at top speed, breaking your fastest lap record or overtaking your opponent are all adrenaline filled moments that make this game something special once you finally master it.
After learning the hard way not to jump in at the deep end, I quickly found that the best entry point was through the brand new and mightily impressive managerial career. It’s in this mode where the game really begins to shine. You can choose whether to start all the way down in Moto3 and build your way up to the heights of MotoGP or just start at the top level. Personally I would recommend starting at the bottom as you can learn the games mechanics on slower and easier to use bikes and slowly get more comfortable as you go.
It’s clear that developer Milestone put a lot of love and attention into this managerial career as there’s a hell of a lot to do! You begin by joining a real life team or your own custom team (more on this in a bit). You can then start hiring your very own entourage which includes a personal manager, chief engineer and data analyst. Each of them come with different salary options and skill levels, meaning you have to budget carefully while choosing the best staff possible to improve your bike development, attract new sponsors and just improve your overall chances in the upcoming races.
When playing race weekends in the managerial career, you have to be careful when managing your tyres and fuel consumption. You’re only given a certain amount of tyres (soft, medium and hard) to get you through multiple practice sessions, qualifying and the race itself. This is great as it forces you to think tactically about how to race each weekend and I found myself comically running out of fuel on more than one occasion by trying to make my bike lighter or not being more fuel efficient in the last few laps of the race. The humour quickly halted though when I realised that not finishing the race meant I was in hot water with my new team, meaning the pressure to do well on the next weekend was high!
My favourite part of this new mode was the amount of customisation which is on offer. At first I was a little concerned when my character options were limited to a few premade face models, which I still wish would give me the option to have a big beard but fine, I’ll just stick with this clean shaven pretty boy you’ve forced upon me. Soon after though I was given the option to create my own team… with this came the ability to customise bike livery, suit design and create your own custom logo and number. I absolutely loved this as it made what might usually be a dull paint my numbers experience a more fun and personal one. Add to this some cool cinematics in your new custom gear and it all adds up to a really fun and immersive experience which was undoubtedly my favourite mode in the game.
Outside of the managerial career mode, historic mode makes a return from last year’s game. Although there’s a lot of fun to be had here by playing with real life MotoGP legends and trying to better your score, I couldn’t help but gravitate back to the highly addictive career mode. Though hardcore fans of the sport will likely find a lot to love here by reliving some iconic moments with their favourite riders.
There is also an online mode but at the time of writing I haven’t given it enough time to fairly judge it, I will likely play it properly once the game officially launches so keep an eye right here on Respawning.co.uk and our YouTube channel for more on the online features.
Presentation wise, MotoGP 20 is a real mixed bag. Bikes and tracks look great and the amount of real life race tracks in the game is mightily impressive but be careful not to look too closely at any building in the background as each of them is a real eyesore. This doesn’t matter too much as when passing by at top speed it looks great, but some of the slow motion sweeping shots before the start of a race really exposes some visuals which look like they belong on the last gen of consoles. Same goes for the riders, when racing in full customised gear they look great, but any character model seen without a helmet looks laughably bad.
The audio sounds fantastic when racing at full speed, as the engine roars and spits with real venom which completely immerses me into the feel of the race. Unfortunately though that’s all there is… there’s pretty much no commentary in the game other than the opening few words before a practice session, qualifier or race. You’ll also hear a commentator speak whenever you leave or return to the pits but he will say pretty much the exact same line of dialogue whether you smashed the lap record or crashed in a near death experience. It would have been nice to have more commentary which lets you know how you’re doing and what else is going on in the race, or maybe some words from your team as you go around the track. The engine and race noise sounds amazing but the lack of anything else stops the race weekends feeling like televised events which other licensed sports games manage to capture so well.
If you’re a fan of the MotoGP sport or the previous games in the series then you’ll undoubtedly find a lot to love with this latest entry. The new managerial career is a really impressive mode which will keep players entertained for hours on end and even if you do get bored, there’s a fun historical mode and online play to distract you for a short while. It’s a shame that the lack of tutorials or a simple pick up and play mode are absent, therefore alienating potential new players. Presentation for the most part looks great, especially the huge sound of these monstrous bikes but there’s still a lot that can be improved upon to make it closer to a real life TV experience. More importantly though, the gameplay and how the handling of the bikes feel is near perfect if you have the patience to learn it and that’s what makes MotoGP 20 well worth picking up if you’re a fan.
I give MotoGP 20