Arriving a few months later than usual, MotoGP 23 is just around the corner. With its release getting closer, we’ve been hands-on with a preview version of the PC build to find out how Milestone’s bike racer is shaping up ahead of its June launch.
We should also mention that we're approaching our MotoGP 23 hands-on preview from the perspective of a newcomer to the franchise.
Sights and sounds
Visually, MotoGP 23 looks stunning, even in its preview build. Admittedly, we had to turn down some graphics settings to get the game to run smoothly on our older PC, but the visuals still shine on reduced settings.
With some settings tweaks, the game also ran incredibly smoothly, even when capturing gameplay. Of course, this may not be the case on the last-gen versions of the game.
We expect the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game to be more akin to MotoGP 22 and 21’s appearance, but current-gen players should look forward to crisp graphics and smooth frame rates when the MotoGP 23 launches in June.
Along with the visuals, the audio in the game is fantastic. Milestone’s sound design has been underwhelming in previous MotoGP games, but in MotoGP 23 you can almost feel the roar of the engines through the speakers and each team’s bike sounds unique.
A steep learning curve
Our preview build was limited to Grand Prix and Time Trial modes with access to the rider and bike customisation screens. When entering a Time Trial, you can pick your rider and team, track, time of day and weather settings.
The settings are even deeper in Grand Prix mode, with the ability to choose which sessions to take part in across the race weekend.
There are several riding settings to suit different skill levels. In Rookie difficulty, the bike basically rides itself. You have some control over steering and throttle application, but beyond that braking is automatic so all you have to do is not hit anything.
This was fine for the first few laps, but after a while, we wanted to try hitting the brake zones and leaning through corners. However, the gap between the Rookie and the next difficulty setting is vast. Even adjusting the steering, throttle and brake assists individually made the bike feel unstable.
Adjusting the steering assists down a notch made us lose the bike on every corner entry, adjusting the throttle made us lose it on corner exit, and even taking the braking assist down by one caused the bike to go straight on at every corner.
If you've never played a MotoGP game before, the disparity between the difficulty settings could be off-putting.
There is another setting where the bike follows the ideal trajectory around corners, with the middle steering assist supposedly designed to help align the bike to this trajectory as you enter each lean, but this just wasn’t working for us.
Hopefully, Milestone can finetune the difficulty settings in the final game for players who don’t want to watch their bike ride itself but also don’t want to be sliding on their backsides at the back of the grid every race.
One of MotoGP 23’s headline features is the new career mode. MotoGP 23’s career introduces a new social media where you can interact with rivals as well as new “turning point” challenges based on your performance. Sadly, however, the career mode wasn’t available in the preview build.
Even though we struggled to control the bikes when assists were turned down, MotoGP 23’s on-track experience is exhilarating. The dopamine rush you get flying past your rivals along the pit straight is a feeling you just don’t get anywhere else.
Even at this stage of development, the game feels solid, looks incredible and sounds even better. The menu screens are clear and easy to use, the AI, although not launch-ready, are competitive, and the visuals and sounds are spot-on when out on the track.
We’ll have to wait until MotoGP 23 releases in June to find out how the new career mode and dynamic weather system stack up, but early signs suggest this will be a solid entry in the franchise.
For more articles like this, take a look at our MotoGP page.