I am not the biggest fan of racing games. Most of them have been really hard for me to get into and were even less successful at holding my attention once they had it. Last year, I tried to jump into Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 5, and, while the game looked phenomenal on my PlayStation 4, I struggled so much just trying to complete a race or qualifier. The bike would constantly pitch back and forth at the slightest touch of the thumbstick. There wasn’t much in the way of a tutorial to help me understand the game mechanics beyond how to accelerate or hit the brakes, at least not that I’d come across while playing. I slowly got a little better, but overall it was a rough experience. I decided, however, to give the Monster Energy Supercross games another chance this year, and I am pleased to say that Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 6 (Supercross 6 going forward) is a definite step up from last year.
Supercross 6 feels far more inviting than last year’s Supercross 5. Just getting started was so much easier. You start off with a fairly basic character creator where you choose what your rider will look like as well as filling in some background information about where your rider is from. By the way, according to this character creation screen, the United States is a continent and every state is a country. It is a small oversight, but also very amusing. After setting up your rider, you’ll switch over to your starting bike selection where you’ll be presented with a handful of brand options to choose from, like Yamaha and Husqvarna.
Once you’ve got your rider and your bike settled, you’ll be asked if you’d like to do a quick tutorial race. The purpose of the race is to introduce you to the game mechanics and give you a feel for what you have to look forward to. Veteran players will obviously skip past this. I, however, decided this would be a good next step, as I’m still newer to Supercross games.
It turns out I could have just skipped it. Beyond the very basics of telling you how to accelerate and brake, the tutorial race does very little to instruct you in any other way. You are told to “control your rider’s weight” using the left thumbstick, yet they don’t explain or demonstrate what they mean by that. I assumed this just meant pulling back on the thumbstick during jumps to prevent the rider from falling forward off the bike, as well as pulling the stick left or right to make a turn. It’s really no different than other racing games, otherwise, in terms of how to ride.
However, it was during this tutorial race that I noticed something significant that I had struggled with so much in Supercross 5: bike handling. In Supercross 5, every small movement of the thumbstick caused the bike to make a very sharp turn that constantly had me bobbing back and forth, making it nearly impossible to control. In Supercross 6, movement felt so much smoother. I was no longer pitching over every time I tried to make a slight adjustment and I was able to actually complete the tutorial race at the front of the pack, something I never accomplished in all my time with Supercross 5 in any race. This continued as I started my career, resulting in me being the champion after completing the Futures races and securing many top 5 placements in further races.
This is all due to the improvements they have made to gameplay, including revised AI, game physics, and a refined rider shape system. Additionally, there are new tools and settings to customize riding aids. Before going into any race, you have the option to visit your bike setup where you can adjust different tuning settings to your liking and your riding style. I didn’t do a whole lot here. I tend to leave these settings alone and just adapt to whatever the defaults are, because otherwise I have to readjust to the new settings.
Supercross 6 features 8 different game modes, with 6 returning modes and 2 new modes, Rhythm Attack and Supercross Park. Rhythm Attack is a new 1v1 race where riders compete 2 at a time in single elimination races until the champion is crowned. The races take place on a straight flow section of track, so there are no turns and no second chances. It’s all about skill and speed in a race to the finish line where only the winner moves on. However, a lot was left on the table with this mode, as it doesn’t actually present itself as a tournament. All you do is choose which class you want to do the race in (450, 250 West, or 250 East), your rider, your opponent, and the track, and then you do the race. The race couldn’t be any easier. As long as you know how to hold the right trigger and occasionally pull the left stick back a little, you’ll easily cruise to the finish line in first place… Every. Single. Time. Right now the mode is only listed as singleplayer, but I sure hope they open it up to multiplayer in the future. After 3 races against the AI, one in each class, I see no point in returning to this mode except to easily earn some in-game credits.
Supercross Park is a new free roam park with 5 different zones that present different paths to explore, including an airport, quarry, and a stadium. Riders are free to do what they please in Supercross Park, including finding all of the collectibles hidden throughout the park. These collectibles unlock special cosmetics for the rider and their bike. However, that’s not all the park is for. Supercross Park also stands as a training ground for riders to hone their skills, recover from injuries from frequent crashes during races, and complete challenges. If you visit the Player Pit, you can stop at any of the 4 specially marked tents where players can take part in training races, complete quests, and more to earn skill points (which we’ll get to later) as well as improve their racing style. You don’t have to visit the pit, however, as there is plenty to do around the park, especially if you invite a friend to join the ride.
I had a lot of fun exploring the park before even becoming aware of the Player Pit. I zipped around the park, exploring the different areas in search of the hidden goodies throughout and just generally messing around in the different zones. Once I made it to the Pit, I was presented with the option to do training sessions to hone particular skills, workouts to recover from injuries (because that’s definitely how that works in real life), complete challenge races, or visit Supercross Academy. Supercross Academy is another effort by the Monster Energy Supercross development team to help newer players with learning the ropes. With Jeremy McGrath as your coach, you’ll complete basic training tutorials.
However, again, I feel like the execution of this idea falls short. There is very little in the way of instruction. You are, for the most part, told to control your braking and your rider’s weight (distribution) to complete each objective, but you’re not given much track to practice. They don’t demonstrate or provide an effective visual aid to show you what you are trying to achieve. I honestly feel that it’s best for everyone to just jump right into their Futures tracks and learn on their own. Doing is always the best teacher, anyway. I do appreciate the efforts they are taking to try to make the game more accessible and welcoming to new players, it just doesn’t work that well.
Do you want to know what is helping? They have added a skill tree! Now, when I first saw this, I was confused – this isn’t an RPG, it’s a racing game, so what do we need a skill tree for? Turns out, it is super helpful! As you complete challenges at Supercross Park and complete races, you earn skill points that can be spent in the tree to amp up certain skills every rider needs, including better turn and braking control, managing rider weight distribution when doing jumps and turns, and more to help you stay in control during every race. On top of that, you earn credits both at Supercross Park and by completing races, which can then be used to purchase upgrades for your bike for things like speed, acceleration, handling, and braking. Upgrades can be purchased for suspension, brake discs, rims, tires, the rear sprocket, and exhaust. All of these upgrades have an effect on either of the four stats. You can also purchase new hand guards, hand grips, handlebars, and a new seat, but these are purely cosmetic.
I can’t say for certain if the skill tree and upgrade purchases are really helping me, but, in the end, it really still boils down to your skill on the sticks. You can purchase all the goodies you want, but you’re still not going to win if you don’t learn to hit the brakes and control the bike. Still, for those who may see a difference or know what to look for, this is a nice touch. As I’ve said before, I’m not as big into racing games, so I tend to keep it simple.
Compared to my experience last year, I’m eager now to jump back into the game to see where I can push my racing skills. This game also inspires me to branch out to more racing games in the future. Aside from everything that’s been mentioned thus far, Supercross 6 still manages to be your typical Supercross gaming experience, just with a lot more polish. The developers revamped the ranking system for those who want that extra competitive edge, and that has been made all-the-more exciting by the introduction of console cross-play so that you can race against and alongside friends on either PlayStation or Xbox.
Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 6
Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 6 is a highly polished, excellent entry to the Monster Energy Supercross series that has me excited to keep coming back for more races. The updates to the game’s physics especially had me feeling like I was more in control of my riding experience than ever before. Unfortunately, the Supercross Academy contributed very little to this improved experience and the new Rhythm Attack mode left something to be desired as well.
- Much better bike handling and physics
- Supercross Park is a fun addition to explore and get upgrades
- Addition of console cross-play is always a plus
- Supercross Academy and Rhythm Attack mode did little to add to the experience