MX vs ATV Legends from THQ Nordic and Rainbow Studios launched 28 June 2022, wherein you become a world-famous professional rider and take your career all over the new open world environments. It’s not my kind of game for sure, so this review is from a newbie’s perspective.
As immersive as it is to be dropped into the game at once, I unfortunately do not enjoy this aspect. In any case, it’s a “free ride” mode through checkpoints which serve as tutorials for the game at the first start up. Once done, you’ll finally be able to access the menu (which is the start / option button for the ol’ Dualsense).
The tutorial is actually quite comprehensive and easy to understand since motocross is understandably quite different from “typical” car / motorcycle racing games. God knows how I managed Riders Republic. The “free ride” is the “menu” in a sense since you’re allowed to ride around here to find events, collectibles or NPCs.
Oddly enough, this doesn’t extend to accessing other modes such as for the career track, racing or customizing, as these need to be found through the actual menu. There was potential to have it completely seamless by visiting a garage or somesuch, but no big shake I suppose.
GRAPHICS / PERFORMANCE / SOUND
The game’s overall assets look great with nice environments that have their accompanying physics. The tracks and events stand out with their individual designs, and both indoor and outdoor areas have good lighting. However, this quality doesn’t seem to extend to the character models, so much so that their rendering seems to take a longer time for whatever reason, making them look blurry.
Besides that, there were a number of other visual bugs. One of them was some black checkerboard effect that crops up often when on the track. For another, hitting the reset after falling off seems to glitch the character model so the bike is just hurtling along without a rider.
Sound wise, the sound effects – from the purring engines to the audience cheers – are solid. I’d recommend lowering the soundtrack volume as it can drown the sound of the bike.
Career Mode is one of the main features of the game with three separate parts: MX, ATV and UTV races. For ATV and UTV races, you will sometimes be required to progress in MX mode. This is simple enough: be that pro rider, win your races and attract as many fans as possible.
Completing certain races will get you rewards including motorbikes, spare parts, new tracks or even imitations to select events with attractive prizes. Repeating races is an option for you to improve your prior placing or good ol’ currency grind.
As no-frills as it is in Career Mode, the lack of anything apart from racing and getting the prizes / better numbers just isn’t enticing for a newbie without prior interest in motocross. There’s nothing particularly “unique” about the premise except that I’m new to it.
This mode is divided into Quickplay and Time Trial. Quickplay is further subdivided into events including Supercross, National, Rhythm, Trails, Invitational, or Freeride. Perhaps someone more familiar can tell the differences between them but as it stands, it doesn’t seem to have that much, well, differences: Supercross looks to have more jumps and ramps in indoor tracks, while National and Invitational have the dirt outdoors.
This is made of three parts: Parts, Tuning, and Locker.
Parts is where you fiddle with the suspension, brakes, tires, wheels, handlebars, seats, grips, exhaust, and sprockets. These are cosmetic only.
Tuning is where you improve your ride’s performance, where you can tweak the engine, clutch, chassis, suspension, traction, and brakes. You can tune to tweak various stats such as Power, Traction, Suspension, Handling, Brakes, and also Stunts. Some of these may require trade-offs in other aspects, e.g. increasing power at the cost of handling or suspension. Even as a newbie, learning how to tune is important as default settings can make things harder for yourself since you won’t be able to get the performance you’d prefer.
Lockers is basically the character customization to style up your clothes, gender, name, stage number if you want. It’s limited that you can only change according to what is offered to you as there’s no way to really change colours or body. Alas.
HITTING THE ROAD
This is where I really feel like the complete newbie. Racing games never really have been “accelerate and pray”, but navigating the movement, mechanics and physics of MX vs ATV Legends is an added layer of difficulty. There’s needing to tilt your body for the turns, the suspension, and the handling which almost seems inconsistently heavy or light.
The UTV feels even stranger. It feels like driving a car, with the handling of a motorbike. Bumps and crashes were to be expected and still it feels incredibly slippery to navigate even moving slowly following a straight line. Suffice to say, it will take a while before someone like me would be able to rise to the challenge.
The ATV is the most “beginner friendly” option since it’s more similar to a car and allows for the simple “accelerate and / or brake” method of control.
Now, it’s just the Reset Button that needs to be more responsive. It’s nice to have a backtrack should you fall off or go the wrong way, but it doesn’t seem to respond consistently. When every second matters in a racing game, it’s very inconvenient at best.
You can play multiplayer both online and offline. Online is as easy as going to the “Race Online” mode and jumping into a Quick Match. Alternatively, you could organize a Squad Compound to invite up to 16 people for a Quick Match or freeride session.
As for offline, up to 2 players can go Split Screen. Both of you will need gamepads, as one gamepad and keyboard + mouse doesn’t seem to work. The modes themselves are the same as online multiplayer, offering various event races or freerides.
END OF THE ROAD
As a whole, MX vs ATV Legends leaves quite a good impression on a motocross newbie. Freeride is quite nice to trundle along in in place of a regular menu, but the immersion isn’t taken the whole way as there are a number of activities requiring use of said menu rather than some “open world-like” navigation.
The game could also stand to improve in quality of life or even settings options. I can understand simplifying certain aspects to attract newbies, but if there isn’t really the “option” to opt out, anyone interested to challenge themselves further might find it lacking. It’s going to be a fine line to walk when even the lowest difficulty level can prove too much, but one supposes it be like that sometimes.
Oversimplification of certain aspects feels awkward
Environments look solid
Characters lacking visual quality, visual bugs
Wide range of tracks
Steep learning curve for beginners