MotoGP 21 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Josh Di Falco 23.10.2021

Review for MotoGP 21 on PlayStation 4

MotoGP 21 is back for its annual release, with Milestone yet again delivering another consistent title for the PlayStation 4, with this title also released on the PS5. This year's entry brings with it Career Mode, which is where the bulk of the time will be spent. In addition to that, though, there isn't much else on the platter other than the general online modes and exhibition-styled races. Despite these ordinary features being similar to previous titles, MotoGP 21 plays as well as ever, with some minor upgrades from last year's title, while it also seems to lack some polish in certain areas that keep this from being the ultimate motorbike-racing simulator.

For newcomers jumping into MotoGP 21 for the first time, know that motorbike riding on the digital format can be a tricky learning experience. In previous years, Milestone seemed to have had a difficult time with creating an engaging way to teach new riders the ropes. Either a rider was willing to apply themselves for plenty of hours just to get to that point of being able to compete, or they probably just moved on to another game. The steep learning curve wasn't Milestone's fault - this is a team who diligently works to make as close to a real-life two-wheeled simulator as it can.

While Milestone has shown it is good at making motorcycle-racing games, the tutorials have left a lot to be desired previously. However, with MotoGP 21, this changes. For new riders who wanted to dabble into digital motorbike-racing sims, but were put off by the steepness, then Milestone has made a really good tutorial to kick off proceedings here. It starts nice and easy - by learning how to stay on the bike, and be able to use the basic controls. Various riding aids are turned on by default, such as the track trajectory that showcases the ideal route for riders to take, plus there's the handy rewind feature that allows riders to immediately backtrack if they fall off their bike, or if they took a corner too slow, and they wanted to reset 30 seconds to try again. The best part is, this feature can also be used as many times as needed.

There have been some racing titles that used to have the rewind feature, but it was limited to, say, four or five uses per race. Honestly, the best way to let riders learn in any format is to allow them free reign over how many times they want to use the rewind feature so that they don't have to restart entire races again to fix one error. One new riding aid that enters the mix is the 'Curve Indicator;' red and blue indicators that appear on certain sections of the tracks, and are there to assist the rider in knowing when to start braking, or when to start accelerating. As always, for those riders who prefer the harder difficulties, these riding aids can always be turned off at any time.

Screenshot for MotoGP 21 on PlayStation 4

Despite these riding aids and the robust tutorial that does its best to reduce the steep learning curve, there is still one obstacle that is in the way: the AI. Fortunately for those who seek a challenge, the AI opponents are masterful competitors, and they are not pushovers, to say the least. Even if a beginner to the series playing on 'Easy,' you'd be hard-pressed to try and push the AI opponents. Learning how to keep on your bike is one thing, but being able to maintain fast speeds, while making efficient use of entering corners and accelerating out of them means a bit of tinkering with the mechanical components of the bike to ensure that you are riding on the optimal settings for your playstyle.

While the easy mode AI could've been reduced a tad bit to make things a little easier for newcomers, more adventurous riders can bump up the difficulty to the max on the 100-point scale for the ultimate challenge. The AI competitors are quite aggressive and they will always find the better positioning on the track, making every corner and overtake that little bit more daring, and then there's the odd time an opponent will just plummet straight into you as well, most likely knocking you off your bike.

While this game wasn't exactly reviewed on next-gen systems, the PS4 edition does feel much better in the gameplay department. The bikes feel real, and the way that it shifts left or right with the weight of the rider adds that extra dimension to the visual appeal of bike racing. Unfortunately, the PS4 controller doesn't quite rumble as much as this game would've been able to on the PS5, so the lack of the feeling of being on a bike just wasn't quite there - especially when compared to other racing titles that were reviewed on the PS5, with the haptic feedback. Despite that, though, MotoGP 21 at least played exactly as it needed to. The riding seemed consistent in the various weather formats, whether it was a bright sunny day or in the pouring rain. Riding too fast on corners would be detrimental and most of the time, coming first in races meant living on the very edge and being a second away from disaster. However, thanks to the cool rewind feature, there were plenty of opportunities to practice.

Screenshot for MotoGP 21 on PlayStation 4

While MotoGP 21 has an online mode to pit riders against online players, as well as offline modes for quick races in certain tracks - the main chunk of what MotoGP 21 has to offer is in this year's Career Mode. Create a brand-new rider, sign a personal manager, choose (or create) a team, and then get to riding. Kicking off in Moto3, manage a 52-week calendar comprised of various events in a bid to win championships, and rise the ranks to MotoGP. The race weekends themselves can be skipped, so riders only race the main event itself, but doing this is a huge disservice to a strong career mode. Partaking in the full race weekend consists of three 40-minute Free Practise (FP) sessions, where there are a bunch of objectives and tasks that allow for riders to have goals in mind.

Where previous MotoGP entries used these practice sessions to allow riders to familiarise themselves with the tracks and get the best times, now these sessions also serve as a way to allow for riders to achieve new goals to earn research data. After completing the three FP sessions, there are two Qualifier sessions to determine the starting positions of the riders on match day. Then before the big race, is another quick warm-up event that allows for more time to make motorbike adjustments to ensure that your team has the best chance of success at winning the cup.

Outside of the races, riders can assemble their team of crew members, who work diligently behind the scenes to ensure that improvements and advancements on the motorbike can be made. Hire Technical Staff members such as a 'Chief Engineer,' 'Data Analyst,' and 'Telemetrist,' who have varying degrees of skill distribution across four different disciplines: Engine, Frame, Aerodynamics, and Electronics. The four disciplines have their unique skill trees, but to advance on these skills trees, the team needs to generate enough 'Research Data,' which act as experience points for those used to RPG terminology. The Research Data generated in each discipline can only be used within that skill tree, so for example, if your team generates 2000 Research Data for the 'Engine' category, then those points can only be spent upgrading nodes on the Engine tree, and they can't be transferred to the 'Frame' category - so, keep this in mind when allocating the staff across the various fields to ensure that you have enough points generated, so that you can begin upgrading nodes.

Screenshot for MotoGP 21 on PlayStation 4

Unlike other games, where upgrading nodes can be quite instantaneous, in MotoGP 21 upgrading a node can take eight weeks. Once you assign staff members to work on that node, they then become inactive for the rest of the duration until they complete that upgrade tree. Learning how to balance your crew so that you can generate research data to spend on upgrades, while at the same time committing a few crew members to do the upgrades can be a balancing act. However, this micromanaging is quite fun and rewarding, as the upgrades do make noticeable differences to how your bike rides, and it seems more than just pure cosmetics. Plus, you can reduce the wait time for a node to be upgraded by assigning more crew members with the highest stats in that particular discipline, to reduce the wait time to three weeks for example. While this means losing more crew members for data generation, it also means reaping the benefits of that node within three weeks instead of eight.

Beyond career mode and the online portions, MotoGP 21 doesn't feature much else other than starting a brand-new career again with a new up-and-coming rider. Graphically, this still looks like MotoGP 20, except with a bit more shine to the bikes. The crowd themselves seems quite non-existent, and the commentators pre-match fail to nail the right beats to build up the event into a grand race that is worth caring about. Compared to WRC 10, where the lack of commentators is replaced with poignant music that does an excellent job of building up the sudden tension and importance of the upcoming race, in MotoGP 21 the big events seem to lack the extra details to make these races feel special.

Screenshot for MotoGP 21 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

MotoGP 21 is back in a big way: with a career mode that is even more fun than years past. Every year, Milestone adds a little bit more to its arsenal that keeps growing this franchise into what may one day be the ultimate experience for two-wheeled speed demons. For now, though, MotoGP 21 is quite a good investment for both hardcore fans and new riders to jump into. The tutorial mode makes this one of the more accessible titles ever, however that doesn't mean learning how to beat the AI will be an easy task. This racer is a satisfying package that takes time and persistence before the fruits of your labour begin to grow. While there is still much that this package is lacking, the series is clearly heading in the right direction.

Developer

MileStone

Publisher

MileStone

Genre

Sport

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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