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MotoGP 23 Preview: Beautiful but Punishing

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It’s always hard jumping back into a motorbike racing game after spending so much time playing the likes of Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport. But in the case of MotoGP 23, it seems even more so.

They’re all racing games, but the dynamics of pushing a motorbike to its limits are just so much more complicated. On top of the usual, you’ve got both front and back brakes to consider, as well as when to start leaning in. Get any of these wrong and you’re likely to overshoot the next corner, potentially ruining your chances of getting a podium finish. Needless to say, it can be frustrating. And unfortunately that’s the word that sums up our time with MotoGP 23 so far.

Granted access to a PC preview build, we’ve been able to get to grips with the core gameplay that MotoGP 23 has to offer. It’s clear as soon as you jump into a Grand Prix or Time Trial event that the visual bar has been pushed that bit higher yet again, making this entry in the long-running series the most realistic-looking yet. The audio seems much-improved, too, and so straight off the bat you’re likely to be optimistic. But it’s when you start applying the throttle and pushing your bike to its limits that unfortunately things seem to fall apart.

We’ll admit that we’re not exactly experts when it comes to racing games of the two-wheeled variety, but we’d like to think we’re competent at them. MotoGP 23 has shook our confidence. We hate assists that affect our inputs when it comes to steering, throttle and braking, but change the settings down to anywhere from max here and you’ll likely not be in for a fun time, especially if you’re a newcomer. It is awfully uncompromising. Players can’t even rely on the visual racing line aid, as not only is it hard to see the recommended braking points at speed, but they’re often woefully incorrect.

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It’s something that we hope Milestone can address before launch, because for MotoGP fans there are some things here to genuinely be excited about. Dynamic weather is finally in the game, for example, keeping races feeling unpredictable and forcing you to think more about your racing strategy. And there’s a higher degree of customisation than ever before, allowing you to define your own style and show it off when racing online. Because who doesn’t like standing out from the crowd?

While we didn’t have access to it in the preview build, numerous improvements are also promised when it comes to MotoGP 23‘s career mode. It promises to be more personal, with a player’s actions and choices affecting their relationships with other drivers. You’ll build friendships and rivalries, which should have an effect on the on-track action. And Turning Points will allow players to change the course of their career by overcoming challenges. With all the other new features and gameplay improvements, it could prove to be the best MotoGP career yet.

We just hope that Milestone can fine-tune the game’s difficulty before its June release, otherwise MotoGP 23 is likely to only be for the hardcore. At the moment it’s the hardest entry in the series yet if you so much as tinker with the available assists – so much so that it feels openly hostile. But if a more gentle difficulty curve can be achieved, the new features and improvements here, such as dynamic weather, could possibly make this a standout title in 2023 for some.

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Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!