MotoGP 21 REVIEW: A steep but satisfying learning curve

Milestone’s newest game brings the heat with amazing gameplay and battle-hardened AI.

IMG 20171001 WA0006 by Toby Durant
motogp 21 review ps5

It’s that time of year again, MotoGP 21 is here!

Milestone has become the undisputed king of bike titles, but how does the latest installement in their MotoGP franchise stack up?

*Reviewed on PS5, game provided by publisher

Useful tutorials

For those more used to four wheels than two, the MotoGP games are a daunting task. That’s no surprise really, given the different nature of the machines, but it can be a stark realisation for those with thousands of hours in titles like F1 or Assetto Corsa.

Even at the lowest difficulty level, I had problems keeping up with the AI through corners right away. That’s where the tutorials came in handy.

MotoGP 21 tutorials
LEARNING THE ROPES: The tutorials are a must for new players

These give a great introduction to new players, and while the seasoned among you will have no need for them, it’s nice to see Milestone paying attention to newbies.

The ideal trajectory line is far from ideal when it comes to braking, but the curve indicators are excellent for showing you brake, apex, and exit points, leaving you to figure out the rest from there.

Once up to speed, sort of, we dived into the on-track action.

Smooth as silk gameplay

As you would expect from Milestone, the riding is buttery smooth. The bike feels alive underneath you, especially if you peel the assists off.

MotoGP 21 is far less forgiving of your mistakes than other racing titles. It requires smooth and steady inputs. Any harsh braking, stabs of throttle, or heavy steering usually results in absolute disaster unless you have the assists turned up.

MotoGP 21 Moto3 race start
GETTING STARTED: The Journey from Moto3 to the top is a long and rewarding one

On PS5 this is all helped by the adaptive triggers, which are a god-send that let you really get a feel for grip levels and the strength of the brakes especially.

The learning curve is one of the steepest out there, but it also makes it one of the most satisfying. Once you start to pull together smooth S sections and flowing corners the racing is hugely rewarding.

Racy AI

The single player experience on MotoGP 21 is a good one thanks to the AI. There is no train of bikes at each corner, and the AI will aggressively overtake and defend as they look for space and clean lines.

In fact it can be so aggressive that if you find yourself out of sync through a section you’ll have trouble not losing a fistful of places. This is competely refreshing to see, and once again rewards those players that put the time in to get smooth and consistent with their riding.

MotoGP 21 battle
TIGHT FIGHT: You can get into some epic battles with the AI

There is a little discrepancy between qualifying pace and race pace in the AI. In my second race in Career Mode I was able to take pole by over a second, only to then drop into the mid-pack during the race.

That can make it tricky to balance difficulty as you progress, but with a 20-120% window, there will be a difficulty for everyone out there. It is also super easy to change the difficulty between races so you can constantly tweak up and down depending on your ability and the circuit.

Career Mode

Speaking of Career Mode, the option to do the full 2021 calendar as it should have been, with Termas and Austin included, or the official one with a double stop at Losail to start is a welcome touch.

From there it has a familiar feel to MotoGP 20, with the signing of personnel and the chance to start a new team and pick your colours.

MotoGP 21 managerial career menu
GRINDING YOUR WAY UP: It’s a long road from Moto3, but worth the effort

If you are starting in Moto3 or MotoGP it is a great ride to the championship. Pick your development paths, assign and budget your staff, and get to racing.

It is a long old ride up to the top if you start in Moto3, but given that the junior bike is far more forgiving and controllable for new players it is a great way to get comfortable and familiar with the mechanics of Moto racing than diving straight in at the top.

Verdict

Everything about MotoGP 21 is smooth and polished, but there doesn’t seem to be much different from the previous game.

The recovery system is enjoyable, albeit only at first. It was one of the first things I switched off as it takes forever to get up and back on your bike. Of course, that’s the point and from a realism perspective it’s great, but it is very much secondary to the racing.

Likewise, long lap penalties are a good system that keeps you racing rather than worrying about the clock. But both these are very tiny additions and bring little to your racing experience.

Overall, MotoGP 21 is a slick game that takes a lot of perseverance to get good at. However, once you find a comfort level it is remarkably rewarding. Each track presents a unique challenge and there is little waiting around for overtaking and on-track battling.

Overall MotoGP 21 is a triumph and celebrates the fastest bike series around in all its glory. Accessible for new players and challenging for experienced ones, it’s a can’t-miss for race fans everywhere.

RacingGames.GG Rating: 9/10

Toby Durant

Currently playing: F1 2020, Assetto Corsa Competizione, Forza Horizon 4

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