It’s about time a serious motorbike racing game was released that truly was accessible. MotoGP 23 likes to think it is, but it really isn’t. The result, then, is a game that looks beautiful, has some solid new features, but will only appeal to the hardcore. And that’s a real shame.
Like every yearly release in the series, MotoGP 23 features all the updated teams, bikes, riders, and more. That alone is enough to get some fans ready to pony up the cash. But for those expecting more, there might be some disappointments. The fantastic Nine Season 2009 mode featured in MotoGP 22, for example, has no replacement here, leaving only career mode to be a substantial single-player timesink.
Thankfully, career mode has been notably improved over previous years. You now jump straight into the thick of the action, responding to social media posts from rivals and vying to beat them on the track in a series of Moto 3 races before fielding contract offers based on your performance. After just a few races, then, you could find yourself competing in MotoGP. Or you might have to spend a little more time in Moto 3 or Moto 2.
The career this time around has much more emphasis on your relationships with other riders and teams. Form strong rivalries and you’ll reap the benefits if you can also perform on the track, or you might simply choose to be nice to everyone. Everything you do will have an affect, whether it’s just future contract options, or the development of your bike.
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Career mode has some other new features, too. A new progression system presents Turning Points, which are major milestones on your career that can potentially change its direction. And when you do finally start to compete in MotoGP, you’ll find that you can now take part in Sprint Races, which spice up the racing action somewhat. Overall, it’s undoubtedly the best career mode in a MotoGP game yet.
It’s just a shame that unless you’re a series fan, you probably won’t be able to enjoy it all that much. Despite having a sequence of tutorials, this is a series that still doesn’t help newcomers all that much. This year, the physics have been tweaked to make them more uncompromising than ever. The result is a game in which it’s hard to achieve a sweet spot between realism and accessibility.
There are difficulty levels, of course. Put it on the easiest, and the bike effectively drives itself for you, keeping you on the track but in a way that strips you of any feeling of agency or reward. Step it up a notch and things are much better, but you still might not feel fully in control of your bike, something pretty important in a racing game. Go any higher, and you’re likely to just end up being frustrated, being flung off your bike or running ride as a result of even the simplest of mistakes.
For those undeterred by the game’s difficulty, MotoGP 23 is likely to prove to be a blast. They’ll appreciate the online and offline racing options, and the fact that there are more customisation options than ever before. But more than anything, they’ll love the introduction of dynamic weather, making races more unpredictable. There are some things that are still lacking, though, such as the AI which remains robotic, and poor character models.
It’s hard to wholeheartedly recommend MotoGP 23 to anyone but devout fans of the sport, especially with Nine Season 2009 gone without anything to replace it. It’s a solid racing game with some decent updates, but it’s not the most generous when it comes to content and it fails to cater to newcomers without basically taking control off of them. Ultimately, it may be out of date now, but most are better off sticking with MotoGP 22 for another year.