MotoGP 20 Switch Review – The King of Motorbike Sim (updated for the patch)

2020 is not only the year of eSports thanks to a very unwelcome virus but also it is year of the team creator in official motor racing games. MotoGP 20 has landed and has a monumental amount of improvements for a yearly game. After the huge physics, graphics, gameplay, controls and AI improvements from 18 to 19 on Nintendo Switch I thought for sure that creating your team would be it for 20. I was so wrong. MotoGP 20 is the official MotoGP game development by Milestone; masters of the motorcycle and features all the official Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP riders and teams, plus loads of classic 4 and 2 stroke riders, no Moto e just yet but that was in an update last year so probably will be this year too and no Red Bull Rookies.

You get loads of classic bikes and tight racing.

MotoGP is the premier class of motorcycle racing, it’s the Formula 1 of the motorbike world and as such the feeling of trying to manhandle a demonic beast is there all the time as the bikes buck and weave about underneath you if you put too much power down (with pro physics) but at the same time, this year the bikes are much easier to control than last year making me consistently a few seconds a lap quicker. The way the bikes handle is the most realistic looking (having watched over 15 years of MotoGP) I’ve ever seen on a MotoGP game. Compared to last year’s entry the bikes point and turn better, they can flip flop better, they have better traction on corner exit, they move around more under braking with the back stepping out (backing it into the corner), if you brake heavily the rear wheel will lift off the ground Marquez style but crucially unlike last year you won’t have the front tyre overheat to the point it washes away from the moment you think about braking, though you do have to be careful not to brake too late and hard into corners or you will lose the front end leaving you barrel rolling through and gravel and on some tracks you have to pay close attention to tyre temperature.

Front wheel to rear wheel under braking doesn’t end well.

On the flip side because of the increased traction on exit you’ll only actually high side if you turn the traction control right down or off and even then you’ll likely only be doing it on old tyres or with the traction control lacking Moto 2 and the historic 2 stroke monsters once you’ve played a while. Even so taming these beasts to submit to your whims and produce a good lap time is all about smoothness on the throttle and braking combined with precision through the corners. The old saying of slow in, fast out couldn’t be more true. Smoothness in riding is more important than a good setup, whereas in 19 the ‘right’ setup would net you 1-3 seconds a lap, here you feel the difference in your ability to move the bike from side to side quicker, turn more tightly or get the back end out to oversteer into a corner but the pros don’t outweigh the cons so drastically actually found often I was quicker with a more stable bike that can put the power down earlier coming out of corners so really it’s down to personal taste on how you like the bike setup which is how things should be. What is important though is the gearing otherwise you will be out accelerated by the AI, particularly in the Moto 3 class where you really need to turn the first two gears to max acceleration.

Sorry Rossi.

Besides the new handling model there are heaps of new and improved features in MotoGP 20. Starting with a small but very useful one, improved rumble makes it easier to tell when you’re on the edge of adhesion. There’s a new really handy corner indicator that has little red and blue triangles on the side of the tracks for recommended braking and apexes for if you don’t want the racing line but do want some assistance. Asymmetric tyres are here with separate wear for inner, middle and outer tyre. Fuel loads and power settings have been added giving rise to mid race strategy and more playing to suit your style be weary of fuel as it’s very easy to run out on the last lap particularly with the fuel hungry MotoGP bikes. The AI also finally have to deal with tyre wear and you will see them slip and slide towards the end of the race. 

First bend chaos can ensue.

The AI has actually been changed so drastically because of the new physics Milestone call it Neural AI 2.0 and it has to relearn how to ride. The AI now make mistakes, crash themselves, go down realistically if you bump into them and importantly don’t run qualifying pace laps every single lap of the race, they now run a race pace about a second or so slower. However a few tracks have a disconnect between qualifying and actual pace with the AI supposedly being a second faster than they actually are, this makes qualifying well impossible if you’re really pushing yourself with the difficulty as like real life now the difference from the front to back of the field is only small, about 1.5 seconds a lap. ‘A.N.N.A’ the Neural AI has learnt very well and the AI will give you an intense challenge and thrilling racing with more overtakes in a single race than a whole season of Formula 1 but with a slidable difficulty from 0-120 taking it from slow and steady wins the race all the way up to racing gods, you’ll be able to find the right challenge for you regardless of experience with MotoGP.

You get an insane sense of speed with the dashboard cam.

Historic mode has also had a nice lick of paint as now you get 3 random challenges; one medium, one hard and one very hard and earn points if you finish in the top 3. Then you get a chance to buy one of 3 riders or teams that you can then use in any mode except career, these options change after each race giving the historic mode have a real just one more feel. Unfortunately since the day one patch the set difficulty means that until you’re pretty slick at the game you’ll struggle to get into the top 3 even on the medium challenges. This is where assists come in handy though.

You never know when someone’s going to crash out as the AI are on the edge too.

There’s a myriad of assists to tailor the game to your liking. First off you choose between three physics models, assisted, normal and pro. Assisted would be great for a child or someone new to MotoGP games as you get help braking and you hit the dust everyone you stray off the track, normal if you’re more into arcadey handling, don’t make any mistakes though because you’ll still be punished. Lucky there’s unlimited rewinds because even with normal physics you’ll be using a lot, no matter how good you are. Finally there’s pro; if you want to feel a 250hp beast squirming between your legs. Either way unless you pick assisted you have to be handy on the brakes. Unlike cars, bikes change direction really quickly and turn tightly but you’ll soon get used to that. They also have separate front and rear brakes and you can choose joint brakes as well choose real electronics or every bike having modern (lots of) electronics, these include traction control to limit the power and stop the bike sliding all over the place and engine braking to help you slow down and anti wheelie and have 5 levels that you can change on the fly in race. The controls are completely customisable including acceleration and braking with the right analogue stick.

Gotta love ragdoll physics.

Career mode has been completely reworked for this edition, so much so that it will be getting its own in depth analysis very soon. You can now start in any class you want though which I’m sure many people will appreciate and it will eat your life if your a Motorsport fan.

Graphics the bikes look largely similar to MotoGP 19 just slightly nicer and cleaner which impressed me for its bike models. The vast array of improvements are thus elsewhere for MotoGP 20 but I’m definitely not the least bit disappointed by the graphics, the nice motion blur hides any of the Switch versions blemishes aside from the bland backgrounds but the bikes and action are the important things and there’s a great sense on speed particularly playing handheld. The sound actually took me by surprise, the bikes sound unique and fantastic. Even within classes of bike various manufacturers engine all have their own individual scream.

Photo mode has some nice options that I can’t play around with because I don’t know photography, but I do know I got Wehrleined as I ran out of fuel crossing the line.

The only glaring issues to me in this incredible motorbike sim-cade masterpiece is that there’s still only 16 bikes on track (12-19 in historic races), creating championships of effectively 10 riders plus many wild cards and a lack of online play when even the PS Vita had 6 player online.

Rossi’s bike thinks it’s a plane.

If you can live with the above omissions then MotoGP 20 is the most complete handheld motorbike racing game ever made. The handling model creates fantastically thrilling racing. All the new features and physics contained within are incredible for a yearly update and even if you start a career in MotoGP rather than work your way up MotoGP 20 will hold your attention for a long time. It’s not an easy game for new comers and you’ll have to prepared to crash a lot, but start out with the smaller Moto 3 bikes, work your way up and you’ll be in for one hell of a ride. To me it’s a must have for motorbike and even just racing fans.

A huge thank you to Milestone and Koch Media for providing the review code. MotoGP is available now as a code in a box and on the Nintendo eShop for £39.99/$39.99/€49.99 and at CDKEYS.com for a reduced amount £28.99 at the time of writing.

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