Preview: Improvements are Small But Meaningful in Monster Energy Supercross 3

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Monster Energy Supercross

Many years ago, before I spent my time writing about video games, and even before performing multiple roles in law firms, I studied business studies.

One of the things that still sticks in my mind to this day is Kaizen, an approach to business that seeks continuous small improvements that on the whole hopefully add up to bigger ones. With its Monster Energy Supercross series, Milestone seems to be adopting this approach. Monster Energy Supercross 2 wasn’t all that different to the original Monster Energy Supercross, yet it was undoubtedly better. And the upcoming Monster Energy Supercross 3 seems to improve upon Monster Energy Supercross 2, but we’re talking evolution, not revolution.

Unfortunately, the preview build of Monster Energy Supercross 3 I’ve been privy to hasn’t allowed me to sample the game’s career mode, a mode that I’ve expressed there’s room for improvement in before. And so to that end I can’t advise you as to whether it is actually any better. What I can tell you from my time spent racing in single race and time attack, however, is that the core racing experience is on top form.

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Playing on PC, with the graphics settings at max my GTX 1060-equipped work PC allowed me to play at 2560×1080 on an ultrawide monitor at a solid 60fps, while my beefier RTX 2070-equipped PC connected to a 4K TV was best set at 1440p for a 60fps experience. At 4K it was a wee bit choppy unfortunately. Remember it is a preview build, however, so performance may be improved by the game’s full release. With all of Monster Energy Supercross 3‘s graphical bells and whistles enabled, it truly is a sight to behold outside of the awkward-looking character models during race intros and podium scenes, etc. But anyone that’s played a prior entry in the series will be used to them by now.

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On the track, rider models have been improved, and so too their animations. They move around their bikes more realistically then ever, and thanks to new ground and air physics, the action is noticeably more responsive. Don’t get me wrong; there’s not a night-and-day difference between it and Monster Energy Supercross 2, but it is better. It makes you feel like you’re more in control, and manoeuvres like the scrub seem to be a little easier to pull off. The result is that Monster Energy Supercross 3 is indeed more immersive, which is what Milestone is aiming form.

So, the question is, how much are these incremental improvements worth to you? Monster Energy Supercross 2 released just under a year ago and provides much the same experience, though you’re likely to find it at a knocked-down price. Outside of the improved racing experience, Monster Energy Supercross 3 seemingly won’t offer much more than the ability to race as a woman for the first time, updated riders and bikes in accordance to the 2019 season, and a new co-op experience via the legendary Supercross Test Area compound in California. There is one big change that might draw in supercross fans if they love to race online, however: dedicated servers.

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With dedicated servers, Monster Energy Supercross 3‘s online experience should be faster and more reliable. There should be less lag, ensuring every participant has a chance of hitting the podium. Providing everything works swimmingly after launch, dedicated servers could be a game-changer for Monster Energy Supercross 3 in the eyes of devout online racers. Only time will tell.

With all the usual features you’ve come to expect from the series then, as well as dedicated servers and a raft of other small but meaningful adjustments, Monster Energy Supercross 3 is shaping up to leapfrog its predecessor and jump to the front of the pack. There are no drastic changes; it does’t feel like an entirely new game, but it is surely an improvement. And as long as improvements are being made, the Monster Energy Supercross series is going in the right direction.

Monster Energy Supercross 3 launches for PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC on 4th February. Preorder your copy on Amazon.