Game Review #502: MotoGP 20 (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Robert Krause
Category: Racing, Sports, Simulation
Release Date: April 23rd, 2020
Watch the Trailer
Buy MotoGP 20 from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Review was conducted during prerelease and before patch update on launch day.
Motorsports like no other
As a gamer who grew up loving racing games and sports games as my first experience into the medium I always jump at the chance to play the next entry as it brings me back to my childhood. Playing arcades like Cruisin' USA or home console racers like Gran Turismo or a personal favorite Road Rash while listening to music was therapeutic for me, so naturally I was excited for the chance to review MotoGP 20 on the Switch. Good racing games on handhelds aren’t very common so my first jump into the MotoGP series was with no prior experience.
My first impression was of honest amazement at the amount of detail this game has in all aspects of the racing. The customization options for the rider and the bike are impressive and imposing at the same time. With 46 riders and 43 bikes to choose from plus custom graphics you will not be lacking options. Even trying to jump into a quick race you have the options of practice races, which are qualifying races before the main race. Once you pick which kind of race you want you then can go into tweaking the bike with an engineer and also check tire and gas consumption. As I played this before the Day 1 patch the tire and gas consumption were off and needed improvements; I could barely complete a race with a full tank of gas in most instances.
Some races would be 4 laps and I would need 7 laps worth of gas and still would be running on fumes. (Day 1 patch notes are at the bottom of this review) This was a major adjustment even for a person who enjoyed playing Gran Turismo games and their ability to customize your cars. MotoGP almost takes it too far into reality with the amount of mechanics you have to keep track of with it’s A.N.N.A (Artificial Neural Network Agent) AI system. I am sure for experienced players or people who are knowledgeable of motor sports this is a nice feature. MotoGP 20 features the return of Managerial Career to go along with quick modes, local multiplayer, and historic mode challenges.
Build your Dynasty
Like most sports games today you have a career type mode where you can create a new athlete to start from the bottom and work your way to the top. MotoGP’s version, Managerial Career, not only lets you begin your career at a lower level class but lets you decide what team you want to sign with and bring in your own staff. You start with signing a personal manager who is rated by their abilities in Salary Negotiations, Bonuses, and Contracts then move all the way down to technical staff for Chief Engineers and Data Analysts to support your bike. As you progress through the races new staff options will unlock allowing you to adjust your team as needed.
This will also effect your research and development as you assign the staff members jobs in engine, frame, aerodynamics, and electronics. This is all before you even begin to prep for your first race. As you advance the days until race weekend research will progress allowing you new options to tinker with during race weekend on your practice races and qualifiers. Obviously the better you race the more points and reputation you’ll receive helping to advance your career and upgrading of your bike. Playing throughout the career and other modes the differences in how each bike handles and performs is pretty impressive in scope but can be a bit frustrating learning how to handle a bike only to have a change that pulls you back. Taking advantage of the practice races is a must for this reason.
If you’re not down with having to worry about managing a whole team and career you have the other game modes to get your high speed fix in. Quick modes will give you the option of a new Grand Prix race, time trial, or Championship to play through while still providing a good number of customization options. Historic Mode will provide you with 3 difficulty challenges to earn diamonds to unlock new bikes. I feel like this mode could have been a bit larger with more challenges or historic moments you could recreate. Then you have the local multiplayer mode to race your friends and run them off the tracks. Which is pretty much my driving style and made me realize that simulation racing with real life physics is not for me and I should probably never drive a real motorbike.
Post Day 1 Content
Milestone has future updates planned for the game aside from the patch improvements. Here's the roadmap for the post-launch content:
Beginning of May: MotoGP™ full update to the 2020 season
End of May: Moto2™ and Moto3™ full update to the 2020 season; Red Bull MotoGP™ Rookies Cup addition
End of June: MotoE™ class addition
Powered Down and Bland
As much as I was looking forward to this game on the Switch’s handheld ability, the system just doesn’t do the game justice compared to the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro versions. Not being able to play at 60 fps is a downside for a game that requires quick reactions especially in crowded race turns. The small JoyCons also made handling more difficult, so I would recommend playing this docked for more power and the ability to use a pro controller. The soundtrack for the game is also a negative for me as it is just bland game tracks. Part of the joy of any racing game for me is having a good soundtrack of music to race to much like GT and Skate games. Listening to only the engines noises with a muffled generic track in the background is boring and prohibits me from wanting to play longer.
MotoGP 20 is an impressive game that you can tell was developed with a lot of time, love and attention given to it. Unfortunately playing on the Switch doesn’t do the game justice due to FPS and the JoyCon controls. For me personally, the amount of mechanics provided is imposing as I would prefer to just be able to make a few changes to tires, engine power, and brakes then jump right into a race or championship not having to worry about consumption and aerodynamics. Racing games without a good soundtrack of songs to race to also don’t feel right to me. The sound of engines nonstop is unappealing and the game will almost always be on mute. With that said if you are into motorbike racing and realistic simulators I would definitely recommend this game especially at the price point.
The first patch is available as of April 23 and includes the following fixes:
Added bike damage indicator on dashboard
Added championship victory cutscene sequence (Career mode)
Added championship victory cutscene to championship game mode (Quick modes)
Neural AI improvements
Riders' animation improvements
Estimated fuel consumption during race improvements
Bike damage improvements (3D, physics)
Tire rubber deposit level on track detailed session by session
Tire physics, consumption, and 3D aspect improved
Different other minor fixes
Buy MotoGP 20 from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
*A game key was provided for review purposes