MotoGP 23 is the latest installment in the long-running MotoGP franchise and once again attempts to bring the excitement and speed of the motorsports world to your console or PC. Motorsports is niche compared to auto racing, and no that’s not just because of Max Verstappen. That motorsport is a niche in the racing genre is also evident in the gaming world, there are lots of different racing games for cars but a lot fewer motorcycle games, of which MotoGP is actually the biggest. After playing MotoGP23, I once again understand why motorsports is actually not that big of a deal.
Tearing through corners
Let’s start with the positive aspect of MotoGP 23: the physics. The developers clearly put a lot of effort into creating a realistic driving experience. The bikes feel responsive and respond well to your input. The game’s physics are well balanced, resulting in a smooth and believable racing experience. Overtaking an opponent while your knee is almost touching the track is sure to trigger adrenaline.
Another positive point in MotoGP 23 is the extensive customization. Think of creating your own driver, for example. The game also offers a lot of options to personalize and customize your driver’s clothing, engine and sponsors. Whether you want to recreate your favorite driver or create your own unique style, MotoGP 23 gives you the freedom to do so. Moreover, the customization option goes one step further by allowing players to create their own logos and sponsors.
MotoGP23 has to rely mainly on its career mode, although the game also has other single player modes such as Grand Prix, Championship, Time Trial and a number of Multiplayer modes, it quickly becomes clear that the most attention has been paid to the career mode. Here you start as a rookie in the third class and must work yourself up through winning races and achieving certain achievements in order to eventually race in MotoGP. The attention to detail works very well in this mode, for example, a race weekend really feels like a race weekend because of the test drives, qualifications and actual racing. This also has an immediate negative side, racing time in the game is not accelerated. So if you fully play all the events in a Grand Prix weekend, you will spend a few hours. You can choose to skip the test laps and qualifications, only this has the consequence that you start at the very back of the race. The races themselves can also feel long, even if you choose to play 25% of an actual race – the game has the option to play 25%, 50%, 75% or the full 100% of laps of a race. Due to the fact that the laps are not accelerated, you quickly spend around two to four minutes per lap, and at 25%, most races have between five to eight laps which means you quickly spend over ten minutes per race anyway.
During races in “Career Mode” you are also given objectives to finish ahead of another racer, for example, and during a racing season there are turning points. These are chosen randomly by the game and these important moments add a kind of story to your racing career to give it a somewhat more immersive feel. This still makes it a lot more fun to race in career mode than in the other modes.
Unfortunately, MotoGP 23’s strengths are rather overshadowed by its weaknesses. First, the graphics are just okay. They’re not bad, but the graphics won’t blow you away either. I played the game on Xbox Series X, and if you compare it to other racing games you can play on that console, the graphics were sadly underwhelming. For example, the spectators don’t always look realistic, or the Paddock Girl has a very large forehead and lifeless eyes. The circuits are reasonably detailed and a good game version of the real circuits, which developer Milestone has licenses from, such as Circuits like TT Assen, Le Mans and Silverstone. The circuits’ environments are not as detailed. The grass and trees do not look realistic and many assets seem to have been reused for the different circuits. The engines and drivers are modeled well, but the overall graphical presentation lacks that wow factor we see in many other racing games these days. It’s a shame, because better graphics could have enhanced the overall gaming experience. Also, in the time I played the game, I never really felt like I was going very fast, despite the different camera positions and settings that developer Milestone put into the game to give you this feeling.
Another concern is the accessibility of the game for new players. MotoGP 23 does not really offer a good introduction for newcomers to the franchise. The learning curve is pretty steep, and although there is a very short mini tutorial, it still feels like a tough start for beginners. The complexity of the gameplay can be overwhelming, with countless settings and adjustments that must be understood to get the most out of MotoGP23. This can result in frustration and discouragement for players just starting out with the franchise. The game comes with four difficulty levels. The easiest difficulty is also really easy, all you really have to do then is accelerate. If you go up a level, it immediately feels overwhelming. I immediately flew out of the corner while steering and braking for my life. The level difference is really too big and the game does not offer enough tutorials and resources for new players.
Moreover, the game is too complicated at times, even for experienced players. While a certain amount of depth is appreciated, the excessive number of settings and customizations can negatively affect the overall playing experience. All the features and options sometimes made me feel like I was an engineer and not a driver. It would have been desirable if the developers had paid more attention to simplifying certain aspects so that players could concentrate more on the racing itself. The AI in the game also sometimes leaves something to be desired, for example, opponents spontaneously driving into you or pushing you off the track
MotoGP 23 manages to offer players the experience of a real motorcycle driver. The graphics are not anything to write home about, but they will do. However, the good physics and solid gameplay do offer a satisfying racing experience. Unfortunately, the accessibility of the game for new players leaves something to be desired, with a steep learning curve and sometimes overwhelming complexity. Despite this, the game also has positive aspects such as the extensive customization options for drivers, allowing players to create their own unique style and delve further into the world of MotoGP, along with a career mode to which much attention has been paid.
If you are a fan of motorsports and are willing to take on challenges, MotoGP 23 offers a satisfying racing experience that is sure to please.