2019 has been a big year for Moto GP so far; we’ve got a genuinely competitive fight at the front between Marquez and Dovi. Suzuki are winning races, grown men cried last weekend when Petrucci, an Italian rider took an Italian bike (Ducati) to his maiden win round an Italian track.
Marc Marquez continues to be ludicrously dominant and Valentino Rossi is still racing at or near the front, but it’s a time of change for the MotoGP video games.
There are new (and returning) game modes; Race Director Mode makes its multiplayer debut, while Historical Challenges returns with a range of historical races for you to take part in. Oh, and you’ll be able to take part in the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup using all-new zero-emissions motorbikes because who doesn’t love reducing their e-footprint.
Changes for existing players
As expected, MotoGP 19’s career mode has undergone some changes. Rather than being forced into competing in the Rookies cup and moving up through the classes, MotoGP 19 will allow the player to choose which class to start their career in.
Those looking for a little extra challenge will be right at home with the ‘Pro Career’ mode which restricts many of the game’s settings and rider aids to give you the most challenging experience possible.
Over 50 historical riders feature in MotoGP 19. A dedicated mode tasks the player to replicate key historical moments from the MotoGP series with goodies up for grabs.
The physics are very different from last year’s MotoGP 18 title with a particular focus on the tyres. The tyre model calculates grips levels based on elements such as tyre temperature, track temperature and tyre wear making tyre management key. To aid players, tyre temperatures are displayed across the range of soft, medium and hard tyre type.
The Artificial Intelligence (AI) also sees major changes for this year’s title. Dubbed ‘Neural AI’, the small ‘brain’ made up of digital neurons (imagine a brain in a jar, I’m not making this up) can sense things like tyre grip and tyre temperature. Rather than obeying a set of pre-determined rules, the Neural AI can react to certain elements as it sees fit (albeit with some guidance from the developer).
After 100,000 laps, an AI can go from not having a clue what to do right up to being super competitive. This all results in a cleaner and faster AI, which should provide a firm but fair challenge to players across the difficulty options. In previous games you may have found the AI stepping up dramatically rather than the incremental improvement that other games like the F1 series has had for years.
Going up against Moto GP’s Neural AI, and they feel almost indescribably more alive than what I remember of the last few MotoGP games. All the riders jostling for position, swarming through corners and making it easy to win as many places on one corner as you’ll lose the next. They’re not perfect – I did have a couple of instances of dive bombing, something usually reserved for dodgy online lobbies – but I found them enjoyable and Milestone freely admit that they’re just the first iteration of this exciting technology, while also promising to update the AI after launch. Which as existing players will know Moto GP games tend not to be updated at all so this represents a significant step forward towards a software as a service (SaaS) model.
An increased online presence
Speaking of dodgy online lobbies, as I’m sure established racers know Moto GP isn’t famous for its online lobbies. Usually these lag-ridden wastelands would become barren after 5-6 months of release. I’m still playing F1 2018. So in terms of comparison, Moto GP are trying to get a slice of the action Codemasters have given us for a few years now.
Milestone claims that this should translate to lag-free, smooth online gameplay, and when combined with a range of tools to make your rider stand out on the track, the multiplayer experience should be much more enjoyable this time around. Similarly to F1 you’ll be able to create your own customisable lobby or join one someone else has curated. All that it’s missing now is a ranked system.
RealSport Rating – 8.5/10
The big step between game engines left MotoGP 18 feeling very much like a foundational entry in the series, lacking features and not comparing so well with the games that had preceded it. It’s great to see Milestone committed to continuing to push forward, not just revisiting old ideas like historical races, but making common sense changes for online and eSports, and breaking new ground with their Neural AI. Unless F1 2019, Forza 8 or some unknown title really blows me away this could be my racing game of 2019, something i never thought id be writing at the start if year. Those who have played Moto GP in the past, this is the game to jump back into the series headfirst!
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