MotoGP 21 brings the series into a new generation with aplomb, thanks to a strong update to its core single player mode and good use of new hardware.
Many motor racing game fans will be breathing a sigh of relief now that the sport has opened up again for 2021. Perhaps more than any other year it’s felt like a long winter period with only rally driving for company, but with the likes of MotoGP and Formula One now back up and running it’s time for the excitement to get underway once more. It’s also time for the official video games to see release, including Milestone’s latest MotoGP entry, MotoGP 21.
Milestone has plenty of two-wheeler racing franchises under its belt, including the likes of RIDE and the official MXGP video games. However, given MotoGP’s status as perhaps the top class of road racing for motorbikes, plenty of eyes have been on the studio’s official releases over the years. MotoGP 21 is the latest in this line, providing a comprehensive overview of the 2021 MotoGP season for fans of the sport.
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The most immediate noticeable improvement over the previous console generation is the load times. MotoGP 21 gets the player into the action quicker, which racers will no doubt be grateful for given how sluggish some load times became towards the end of the last generation. In terms of other new console improvements, PS5 owners will again notice solid use of haptic feedback and adaptive triggers on the DualSense controller, with the racing genre one of the few that has truly been able to make the most out of the DualSense.
MotoGP 21′s updates over previous games aren’t all down to the new hardware, however, even if the game looks prettier and runs smoother. Instead, Milestone also put a lot of effort into expanding how the title plays, with even some of the minor improvements adding a lot to overall player enjoyment, particularly for hardcore fans. One such example is giving the player the option to turn off automatic respawns, forcing them to get up and run back to their bike after a spill, making any error extremely costly.
It’s this emphasis on more realism that really works about MotoGP 21. Several bits and pieces improve the overall experience for series aficionados, such as the inclusion of the Long Lap Penalty for the first time, adding depth to the penalty system for players that want it. It adds diversity to the gaming experience, allowing users to define their play style, particularly with a much more robust system for tire wear and brake temperature.
This all comes together to form a fabulous single player Career Mode. The user can choose to start in MotoGP, Moto 2, or Moto 3, with plenty of team management choices to make along the way in terms of engineering and training options. If the player isn’t a long-term strategist they can muddle along just fine, particularly on lower difficulties, and again this shows the versatility of the game as a whole; after all, the dedicated can even develop their own junior team if they so choose, although it’s not quite as exciting as the My Team mode in F1 2021, which is likely its most obvious comparison point.
All of this would be moot if the racing itself wasn’t enjoyable, and in general MotoGP 21 manages to hit home here. New players may struggle a little with the emphasis on having an understanding of track layouts and braking zones, since it’s even less appetizing for casual players than the likes of WRC 9 or RIDE 4, but veterans won’t have an issue with this approach. Once the player has an understanding of the tracks, it’s a delight to play, and until that point they can still have fun with the ragdoll physics when they have a spill.
It’s not perfect, though. As mentioned, a little bit more of a step towards making the game accessible for newcomers might have been useful, particularly given that there’s a real gem of a racing game here. Meanwhile, for all its depth, the team development aspect can feel a little rigid at times, particularly when compared to more flexible or dynamic approaches in titles like the aforementioned F1 2021 or WRC 9. As such it may feel a little dry for some, particularly given the time it might take a new player to get into the rhythm of its actual racing.
Overall, MotoGP 21 is a clear step up from last year’s entry into the franchise. The title makes good use of the new hardware available, all the while expanding the scope of the gameplay experience, particularly for detail-centric players. It might not be for everyone, but motorcycle racing fans will get a real kick out of MotoGP 21.
MotoGP 21 releases today, 22 April 2021 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and Nintendo Switch. Screen Rant was provided with a PS5 download for the purposes of this review.
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