Another year means another MotoGP title, and we get to preview some of the new features coming to MotoGP 23. While these new features do add to the game and make races more challenging and add a layer of strategy to them, the difficulty is still spread across such an odd spectrum. Newcomers will suffer greatly if not ready to put in the hours unless they wear the stabilisers put into effect via Neural Helps. The game isn’t fully out yet, and there’s still time to make some tweaks, however, I was baffled by just how much of an impact these assists were. You can’t have it all, but so far it feels like you’ll either fail a lot, or become victorious without any sense of self-satisfaction.
These Neural Helps are fantastic if you don’t want to learn the nuances of the controls. Everything from assisted steering, breaking, and managing the throttle can be turned on, meaning every turn or acceleration is controlled for you. It feels like you’re holding down the accelerator and the AI is doing the rest. Having these activated in MotoGP 23 takes away any kind of reward as you don’t feel like you’re doing anything, other than reigning supreme on the tracks thanks to an over-abundance of support from the game. Take away this support and you’ll start to become frustrated with the controls, unless you’re willing to put in hours of work mastering everything the gameplay has to offer.
It’s always been something Milestone is known for in a handful of its racers. MotoGP 23 is a racing simulator in the purest sense. Turn into a corner for a fraction too long or don’t reduce your speed at the exact moment and it can force you off the track and off your bike. In the opening races I played during the preview, I would come off my bike multiple times, feeling like I’m not getting to experience the quality of what it has to offer. It’s going to be something to put off a lot of people as the learning curve is too steep, yet I found myself wanting to improve.
Once you take the time to get to grips with the controls and the master its unforgiving approach to racing, there is something under the surface for players to love. Long-time fans will probably be reading this and rolling their eyes, thinking I need to ‘get good,’ but I’ve played enough racers over the years to know not every game has to be this much of a struggle. As mentioned earlier, though, if new players are willing to put that time into mastering the controls, MotoGP 23 does begin to engage you, and the new features I got to see add a brand new level of strategy that left me impressed, specifically the dynamic weather during races.
As I was sat in third at the Mobility Resort in Motegi, Japan, the heavens opened up and the rain started to fall onto the track. My bike wasn’t holding up well in the weather, and I was finding that gliding through the corners was forcing me to lose control and veer off onto the grass. MotoGP 23 allows you to jump into the pits and adjust you bike so that the new weather can be more managed. Not only are you trying to get used to controlling your bike and mastering the bends and straights of each course, the dynamic weather leaves you with another aspect to manage.
MotoGP 23 looks fantastic on PC, especially when the rain starts to fall and builds up in puddles along the track. Bike animations are great, and even though I hated falling off, the way the camera follows it through by going into a first-person camera shake as if watching it through the drivers eyes, was fantastic. There’s a real attention to detail, from the tracks, bikes, and drivers, to the environments across the world, whether you’re at Silverstone or the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. It’s the best the series has looked, and I’m looking forward to get stuck into its career mode and more when the game releases in June.
Despite a harsh learning curve, MotoGP 23 is going to please long-time fans, especially with the addition of the dynamic weather. Seeing through an entire weekend during a Grand Prix will allow new players to get to grips with the course, and right before the big race, two laps of the Sprint Race gives you a proper taste of what the final competition against other racers will feel like. If you’re willing to stick with the gameplay and master all of the control’s nuances, there’s plenty to appreciate, it’s just whether you want to spend the time to do so.
MotoGP 23 is coming to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PC, and Nintendo Switch on June 8th.