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MotoGP 23 preview hands-on: Shifting conditions

In many ways, the upcoming MotoGP 23 official motorcycle grand prix video game is like the Marvel series of superhero movies.

There’s a bunch of household names, a shiny presentation, and impressive graphics. But historically they can be hit and miss, and are we all getting a little tired now? Aside from last year’s excellent NINE Season 2009 documentary mode, MotoGP 22 was treading water.

But now this year’s iteration will launch in June, almost 14 months after the last release, allowing for more development time between versions.

It also adds much-requested features, so let’s find out if it could be the next Thor: Ragnarok or the dank Squib that is Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania…

The AI-driven future…

Before we jump to some of the main attractions, we must first look at how the game moves along the track, and before we do that we must emphasize that everything you see here is a work that will take several months and computer controlled is driver performance that is not representative of the final game.

Also, the bike designs and liveries will hopefully be updated ahead of launch to accommodate the deluge of aerodynamic gadgets that have engulfed the series like a swarm of locusts this season. Remember.

Right, that’s out of the way now, we’ll talk about driver assistance then.

This is usually just a footnote for a new game and hardly the most exciting element – but MotoGP 23 introduces something unique from the Italian Milestone development team: AI-powered driver aids.

In the MotoGP games, your competitors have been run on the so-called “neural AI” system for a number of years, albeit with some suspicious results, it must be said.

This technology has now been applied to help inexperienced players as well, and it sounds like it will also feature in the upcoming motorcycle game Ride 5 later this year.

MotoGP 23 gameplay

This is difficult to describe, at first it feels like it’s from another world – an out-of-body experience.

It doesn’t work like an automatic braking or steering system as you still decide when to stop and turn. But if it realizes you missed the turn, it will nudge you in the right direction. If you get it right, or almost, it won’t intervene.

In a way, this is like a modern road car that has lane keeping assist, and much like those systems, experienced drivers will turn it off immediately.

For example, if you open the throttle too soon exiting a corner, the AI ​​will momentarily cut off power and release the bike at the right moment.

As you get used to the new game, you’ll find that it fights against you, but the level of intervention for the three parameters – braking, throttle and steering – can also be adjusted individually or turned off.

Although we’re not even close to the level of the motorcycle YouTuber ROBO46, we turned them off after a few minutes. Despite criticism that MotoGP 22 is too challenging for beginners, at least Milestone hasn’t watered down the physics, instead increasing the optional helping hand.

On the route

Helping newcomers is very welcome, but what’s the feedback if you’re already familiar with MotoGP games?

Mostly similar to MotoGP 21 and 22 without the weird curb performance of 21 or SBK 22 is the answer. For those asking, no, there is currently no common brake assist.

The bikes are more stubborn when braking. You’ll again have to balance both front and rear brakes and probably downshift manually to stop in time – plus ça change.

MotoGP 23 onboard camera angles

There’s more lateral movement, though, so it feels like you’re taming a wild animal, as opposed to a gas-drinking machine. Dealing with the wobble is key.

There are also improved foot animations, with the driver’s ankles visibly shifting gears and the spilling flames looking, well, more fiery.

No, the driving experience doesn’t reinvent the swingarm, but there is a smoother corner entry phase – presumably thanks to a change in rider weight transfer – and a perceived sharper throttle response.

MotoGP 23 main menu

In faster corners, like the climb to the left at Turn 4 or 6 around the Algarve International Circuit (aka Portimão), the bike currently feels rigid, much more reluctant to change direction, causing us to often find the miss the apex.

Just in time for release, both new additions will appear in this season’s real-life season: Sokol International Racetrack in Kazakhstan and India’s Buddh International Circuit, although neither was ready for this particular hands-on test.

There will also be six classic tracks, with venues yet to be confirmed.

New rules

Just like Formula 1, MotoGP introduced sprint events, every lap.

However, unlike Formula 1, you don’t have to wait a year for it to be in the official video game, since MotoGP 23 launches with the format option from the start.

The times from the two training sessions on Friday are combined and determine who can go directly into the second segment of the qualification the next day. The slower riders from practice take part in Q1 before the top two from there advance into Q2 alongside the fastest from practice.

MotoGP 23 race format

Once the starting grid is set, there is a 50 percent distance sprint race up for grabs for up to 12 championship points. The main race follows on Sunday with the same starting positions as in the sprint, which is still determined by qualifying.

In the game you can of course turn this on or off and combine it however you like. So if you want to skip practice but still qualify or just do the sprint and main race, you can do that. Or you do qualifying and the main race – no problem.

If you increase or decrease the length of the event, they will also adjust accordingly.

The sprints are performed with aplomb, all you need to know at this point is that they are already included, customizable and functional. job done.

Flag-to-flag in practice

For the purists out there, the lack of flag-to-flag racing has been a big bugbear of the MotoGP games.

For those not in the loop, should a race start dry and turn to rain, a white flag will be waved and the MotoGP riders will dive into the pit lane but not change tires. Instead, they step off their bike onto a spare wheel that already has the rain tires on it.

Wet weather has long been a feature of Milestone’s MotoGP games, but the pit lane was closed during a race and dynamic weather was not shown – although it did appear in endurance races in the developer’s previous Ride 4 title.

Don’t worry, it’s here in MotoGP 23, so how does it work in-game?

Well, assuming you select a race longer than six laps and then select the variable weather conditions, it’s active. For example, if the game decides that a race in your career should start raining or start wet and dry, flag-to-flag rules apply.

Once the white flag is raised, the precipitation will make itself felt, and if you’re on slicks you’ll have trouble navigating the track. Visiting the pit lane, the entire process is automated as you watch your rider switch from one bike to another.

It works, and maybe the sim fans would object to that suggestion, but what if there was some form of quick-time button-press action to switch between bikes? After all, time can be lost or gained in this area in the real world. Let us know what you think about this idea in the comments below.

MotoGP 23 white flag

On the other hand, towards the end of the race you may decide to go for it on slicks like Brad Binder in Austria 2021 and in a decent touch some of your AI powered rivals will try to get through it too.

At this early stage we noticed a few oddities, notably a group of drivers slowing down in a regimented line in front of the pit entrance as if they were on a military parade – but again the AI ​​is still a very big work in progress here.

Without being able to test the career at this stage, we can’t say how often it will intervene – but you can also force it manually (start dry and start raining or vice versa), something that could come in handy on the web.

Speaking of which, we obviously haven’t been able to test the game online yet, but flag-to-flag racing is said to work there as well. Will most players use it? We’re not sure, but for now we’re excited it’s finally here and hope it appeases MotoGP fanatics.

Other additions and what hasn’t changed

While these new features are welcome – and just look at how aesthetically pleasing the minimalistic new menu designs are – we’re awaiting final AI and being able to test the revamped career mode later in the year before passing judgment.

While there are tweaks to the driving experience, old issues also remain – the perspective of the camera in the helmet, for example, will still provoke strong reactions from passionate naysayers. Cross platform online returns between PlayStation and Xbox but not PC, too bad.

MotoGP 23 race start

On the track, this isn’t a revolution, just another annual evolution. But a slightly larger development window has made it possible to add flag-to-flag rules, sprint events, and the two new tracks from launch.

Not an easy feat when you include online ranked racing for the first time and the top-tier spec features updated bike designs and liveries from day one, a further improvement over previous years. Moto2, Moto3 and MotoE support classes will be part of the squad again.

MotoGP 23 launches on June 8th for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. If you have any questions, comment below.

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