Last year’s MXGP Pro was one of my favourite games of 2018. A change from the odd attempts to videogame motocross racing, and go for a simulation feel of handling. Bike movement, rider weight, these were big deals and hard to get to grips with, but once mastered, made you feel like a bike ninja.
Why then, does MXGP 2019 – the sequel – feel weird. Something is not quite right here. Milestone’s other game – Monster Energy Supercross – disappointed me as it was a significant step toward the arcade side of the spectrum. After some time with MXGP 2019 I feel that it is sitting somewhere in between Monster Energy, and last year’s offering. The result is a game that doesn’t quite feel arcadey or a simulation offering. And it unsettles me, because bike behaviour never really feels like it should.
Thankfully, the loading of the open world is gone from last year (load it up after a race only to load the next race) and replaced with traditional menus. That’s a win for me. Instead, the Playground is available – an open area where you can practice and experiment on your own terms. In open-world style, there are markers dotted around which you can activate to trigger races, challenges or timed events. I found these to be a bit uninspiring though thankfully, the ability exists for anyone to create and upload their own routes/challenges. And that makes things a bit more interesting.
Not only mapping own routes, but there is a full-blown map editor built into the game. Skipping the tutorial, obviously, showed me that it isn’t especially intuitive but with a bit of common sense you can figure out what goes where. The level of detail you can go into in terms of creating the routes is really quite something, and should there be a motocross course that is not in the game, I feel fairly confident that you could probably create it.
Sadly, trying these courses out is a bit frustrating as the loading times are longer than is comfortable. Still, it’s nice to have the variety if you get bored of one of the many tracks in the game. I’m not familiar with the official MX racing franchise, so can’t tell you if any of the big ones are missing. There is a nice variety however, so that’s welcomed.
The faithful reconstruction of an MX season lends itself to timed races followed by a few laps once time runs out. Upon starting my season with the shortest time limit, I wished there was a way I could change it to only do each race once, instead of the double race for each course. Still, it’s fortunate that despite the earlier handling complaints, it is fun to play.
There’s a selection of rider and bike customisations you can make beyond the ability to create tracks, but I wouldn’t get too excited over it as it’s functional but mostly limited to changing colours and picking a fairly gross looking rider (who you never see as you’re wearing a helmet). More attention was paid to the tracks though which have a lovely deformation as you ride through them over numerous laps. It’s great fun watching them get all churned up. Weather conditions can change mid-race too, which is cool although going from sun to rain results in the track instantly drying. Must be some cool kind of material they use to build them.
Sadly the tutorial/training elements from last year are gone, which isn’t a big deal for experienced players. Newcomers have to settle for text on screen while they are playing to tell them what they need to know. Once you feel happy you can take your skills online to race, choosing between quick race and private lobbies. It’s fun, seems to work well but does feel a bit bare bones.
And that’s my biggest issue with MXGP 2019. It’s fun, but it feels like there could be more. The handling could be just a little bit better. The season mode – despite better presentation – could be a bit more… exciting. The music could be great rather than good, the riders could be more customisable. MXGP 2019 then, the game that could just be a little bit more.
Reviewed on PS4