Moto GP21 Game review: is it an improvement?

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We have been playing the Milestone series of Motogp games since its first iteration in 2013. After playing far too much of the previous entries and collecting all achievements for every Motogp game released from the Italian developer, it’s time to do it all again with Motogp 21. I’m sure you all fed up with our opinions of Moto GP 19, and Moto GP 20, so I’ve drafted in Ryan Shaw, for a real expert opinion on Moto GP21.

Moto GP21 review
New HUD is simple but effective

What’s new in Moto GP21?

Building off last year’s success, the new features in Moto gp21 revolve around an improved suspension and braking system, Brake temperature management, Bike retrieval, and the long lap penalty system. Oh, and a certain Portuguese circuit in the Algarve makes its debut.

Moto GP Braking settings

The biggest change players will notice is the handling and braking of the bikes. This feels a lot different from previous entries and will catch people out. Milestone has thought ahead, giving the player a lot more assists to play with around the front brake, but it’s going to take some getting used to, even for seasoned players. There are new assists to go with the new braking systems as below.

What is arm pump?

“Assisted Front Brake” controls how much hand-holding the game does around the front brake input. There are three levels to choose from: High, Moderate and Disabled. We found Moderate to be the best option for experienced players. It is still punishing but is nowhere near as brutal as disabling it altogether.

“Brake Input Modulation” This works similarly to the Assisted front Brake option, which, when enabled, will stop you locking the front wheel but won’t provide the same amount of stopping power.

Moto GP 21 braking
feel and see the bike moving more under braking

Moto GP21 updated braking

This is certainly going to be a personal preference on what options you decide to use. We found the Assisted Front brake set at Moderate, and the brake input modulation being disabled gave the best performance whilst not throwing you off the bike at every opportunity. Turning the assist on fully makes the braking a lot less effective, and can often see you running on, in the heavy braking zones.

Suzuki’s 2021 Hayabusa reviewed

The new braking can be frustrating at times, with unexpected stoppies, especially at the end of the front straight at Portimao but overall it’s a step in the right direction. The bike moves around under braking now without instantly sending you into orbit so you can channel your inner Marquez.

Moto Gp 21 braking
Can you out Marquez Marquez?

How well do the bikes handle?

MotoGP 21 has certainly changed the way bikes “feel” with the new suspension system. They feel weighty and respond differently in comparison to last year’s game. It’s got a higher simulation feel to it than previous years, which for hardcore players is fantastic but may come at the expense of turning newcomers off. The handling is also directly affected by brake disc size choice. Using a larger disc with a higher mass has a noticeable effect on how quickly the bike can turn. Thankfully before you start a race, you can change your tyres/disc based on the weather conditions. The game does have a “recommended setup”, which you can apply at the push of a button. It’s usually spot on but on some tracks, we had to make our own adjustments to get the bike to suit our personal preference. 

Moto Gp21 review
maximum reward from getting settings correct

Keep those brakes warm

 Another new system for 2021 that expands on last years new systems is the addition of Brake temperatures. It is now important to manage your brakes to get the best performance out of them. However, during the races we have played in the different classes, this hasn’t really been a problem, but we have no doubt if you were to race at the Red Bull Ring with the smaller standard mass discs, you might hit trouble!

Bike Retrieval in Moto GP21

One of the major bugbears of players over the last few years has been that crashing in the game has no real consequences. You would respawn directly on the track, causing other online players to crash if in the same place. This year there is no respawn system. After a crash, you control the rider to steer them back to the bike where a short animation where the rider picks the bike up and remounts. If the crash is huge, the player a cutscene will show with the rider not remounting. The system works well and will certainly be popular in online races. It is worth noting at the moment, the AI does not have this; they respawn straight back to the track. Milestone has indicated they plan to patch this for the AI to also run to the bike.

Moto GP21 Bike retrieval
Hope you’ve been practicing those sprints!

Moto GP21 Long Lap Penalty

Also new for Motogp21 is the Long lap penalty feature and the infamous track limits system. The game is as strict as the current rule set for actual Moto GP riders, where if a tyre touches the green on the edge of the kerb, you will get a track limits warning. Notch up 5 of these, and you’ll be penalised with a long lap penalty. If you decide to use the manual race start function and jump the start, you will have to serve 2 long lap penalties for your eagerness. Of course, this can be turned off in the race options setting, but we all have that one friend online that plays fast and loose with a few chicanes.

Long lap penalty Moto GP 21
Keep it pinned through the long lap!

Portimao!

Portimao makes its debut in Motogp21 after a successful race last year, and many fans requested the track for last year’s game in their excitement. It’s not the first time the track has made an appearance in a Milestone game, being a staple of the Ride series, but Moto GP players are in for a treat as the circuit is stunning. We know how eager players will jump into Portimao straight away, but It cannot be stressed enough that Portimao is not a track for beginners. This was highlighted by current MotoGP Esport champion AndrewZH, breaking down how to get the best out of the MotoGP bikes in Motogp21 for beginners.

portimao wet
Portimao in the wet, the ultimate test?

Game Modes

This is where Motogp21 falls short compared to Motogp20. The career mode is essentially the same as last years. Only the standard “Grand Prix”, “Time Trial”, and “Championship” modes are present. It’s incredibly disappointing. Last years, “Historic Mode” kept players returning for a quick race with riders and bikes from bygone eras. This year it is completely missing! The rider customisation is also the same. This isn’t a bad point; it enabled some of the best community creators to create replica helmets, stickers and numbers, etc. It would have been nice to see some new ideas like boot/glove customisation. Unlike launch last year, the online facility is available straight away so you can browse and download community-created content.

Content Roadmap

At the time of writing, the Red Bull Rookies has just been added to the game with the future update roadmap published by milestone. Yes, this does mean when your jumping into Motogp21 for the first time, you will notice riders and bikes have not had their updated liveries, but it does seem we won’t be waiting much longer for this.

Moto GP 21 Roadmap
Planned updates from milestone

So what’s MotoGP 21 actually like?

Overall, Moto GP21 is a step in the right direction. The presentation of the game is stunning, the game looks very vibrant, and there are no annoying distorted areas around the bike when racing under the lights in Qatar. The bike handling & Braking is more realistic but can be frustrating at times, as it can feel inconsistent from track to track. It’s also not as rookie friendly as Motogp20, so newcomers may struggle and get put off before getting into the game properly.

What is the best motorcycle camera?

Thankfully the Moto3/Moto2 career does break the player in nicely but the Motogp bikes can be a handful. The team ratings are also all over the place, but hopefully, these are updated. The Petronas teams have a performance level of 80%, only beating the Avintia team, which is odd considering they finished 2nd in the team & rider standings and won the most races. We all know that 2020 was a rollercoaster season, but that bike wasn’t an 80% rating.

Overall it’s a great MotoGP game for those who are a fan of sim racing but the cutting of this historic content is disappointing. Newcomers to the series may find the handling offputting, and experienced players might take some adaption but on the whole, it’s definitely an improvement.

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