Review: MXGP 2020 (PS5)

MXGP 2020 released only a few weeks ago on last generation and proved to be an excellent experience. Ultimately, what seemed to hold it back was the hardware the game was running on. The next-generation version has finally released, and it is basically a one-for-one swap in terms of its design. Thankfully, the power of the PlayStation 5 has unlocked the series to its true potential. The racing experience is unquestionably the best the series has ever seen as the game runs at 60 FPS.  The game also adds the uses of the DualSense controller. There are a few caveats that could have pushed the experience further, but for this early attempt on this hardware, fans of the series will enjoy this.

There’s no doubt that Milestone has thought outside the box with the MXGP series in recent years. The Playground allows players to ride around in an open terrain with friends. The best backdrop looks to be added to the series this year with the Norwegian fjords. The area is heavily wooded with high terrain and a backdrop of rivers and mountains. Players can create and share routes for the Waypoint Mode, which is essentially a designer of sorts. Players can also race with their friends on these Waypoints or just free roam around the area and get their bearings down.

MXGP 2020 encompasses everything about the 2020 MXGP season. While the season is over, players will still have access to all 68 riders of both the MXGP and MX2 Championships along with 19 different circuits. This also includes varying weather for the courses that will change the terrain. Milestone has included a Career Mode that allows players to create a rider and race as a rookie or to join an established team. Players can choose different sponsors that will allow them to net more money for winning races. Bikes can be customized with official parts and can also be repainted, but the liveries can be limited based on the sponsor that’s chosen. Unfortunately, the Career Mode is short-sighted especially when compared to the MotoGP series. There’s no engagement in between races so it’s basically just a Championship Mode with a created player. The game also forces you to create the player upon initial boot.

The Track Editor also returns as Milestone has opened a new chapter. MXGP 2020 now offers a choice of four different height maps that will offer more realism when creating tracks. The process isn’t overly complicated but isn’t completely simple. The height maps allow for different terrains to be selected and will add more variety to each course. If creating the tracks aren’t your thing, the option to download tracks is still there. Having this ability in the game still offers a good bit of replayability if the nineteen tracks and The Playground don’t cut it.

While the modes aren’t new and they have been updated, what makes MXGP 2020 the best in the series is what matters the most: the racing. The controls are more responsive than they’ve ever been. Being able to shift the riders weight even on sharp corners is much more manageable. The tension that comes from racing side-by-side with someone has officially instilled confidence while racing. The collisions feel better thanks to the increase of the rumble feedback on the controller. No longer am I diving into corners and worrying about the bike coming out the wrong way. There are also next to no obstacles on the side of the track and if you go off of the track, the game is quick to put you back into action.

The DualSense Controller comes into play with the PlayStation 5 version of MXGP 2020. There’s increased resistance on the Adaptive Triggers which offered a double-edged sword. Braking with this resistance is fine, but more adaption to brake pressure would have been a good touch. The accelerator includes the same level of resistance, but in terms of using a throttle on a bike for acceleration, these don’t have resistance. The resistance may have to do with the bike and the terrain, itself, but the same goes here with the idea of some more varying resistance in the throttle. The controller rumble does what other racing games are doing as it simulates not only the revs of the engine, but also the tires meeting the terrain. The one thing that seems to have taken a back seat is the collision detection as it isn’t as noticeable as it was on the PS4 version. Overall, the inclusion of the DualSense tools is solid here, but more details could have been added.

The AI still seems to be inconsistent even on its lowest difficulty. The riders don’t necessarily have the same issues you will when racing, and again it comes down to learning each individual jump on each individual track to have success. That’s why this game will come off as the best version for its hardcore community. The handling is superbly improved and while there are still issues like consistently getting beat out of the holeshot or AI drivers going down and others not reacting to it, the overall racing experience is the best the series has seen. I never had to worry about something dumb happening based on the racing model. I was able even to land jumps while positioning the bike a certain way and not immediately dumping it.

Where as the PlayStation 4 version of the game had a solid community, finding races online here has been difficult. It seems there may have been some miscommunication about the PlayStation 5 version or just some wrong assumptions. It isn’t as easy to find a race in this version. The game includes dedicated multiplayer servers and I never encountered an issue with connecting to a match in a lobby nor any lag or disconnects during a race. The inclusion of cooperative play on The Playgrounds is a boost for that mode, but I still feel more online options need to be included for the racing.

The visuals of MXGP 2020 on PlayStation 5 is where the game stands out. This runs at a dynamic 4K resolution with the same level of detail that the PlayStation 4 version had. This version runs at 60 FPS at all times it seems, and that includes racing in the rain. Speaking of rain, Milestone had originally touted that the game would include Ray Tracing. I can’t confirm if this has been included, but if it has, it would be in the puddles. It wouldn’t have made a huge impact anyways and the lack of it doesn’t deter from the visuals. It seems that reflections on the bike are boosted, but this is mainly in the cutscenes. Races also load in under ten seconds now thanks to the SSD. One thing I wanted to mention is the overhaul to the menu presentation. It’s wonderful, and combined with the soundtrack that was included, creates an excellent vibe. The gray-on-white from the logos and the backdrop can be hard to read at times, but overall the menu presentation is excellent. Outside of the soundtrack, the bike sounds seem improved. Each class of bike sounds different and offers sufficient exhaust notes. It blends well with the sound of other bikes that are racing. Even the new pre-race cutscenes are nice.

Closing Comments:

Unsurprisingly, it’s the visuals that separate the next-generation version of MXGP 2020 from the previous-generation version. The 60 FPS is an absolute game changer and it adds more to realism than any version on the previous generation. The inclusion of the feedback options for the DualSense controller are here, but I feel this could have been more detailed than what was offered. Otherwise, the game is completely the same in terms of modes and options, but this is the best way to play it. One thing to note is that I mentioned the confusion and miscommunication in the review. I believe quite a few people assumed there would be a free upgrade to this version of the game, but there isn’t. This may be why there is a limited online community here. If you bought the game on the PS4, there’s indeed no upgrade, but Milestone never stated there was going to be. If you do end up buying both versions of the game, you also need to know that your career and character does not carry over and you will be starting over. MXGP 2020 on PlayStation 5 is still the best version of the game to date.