Monster Energy Supercross 6 is the official video game of the popular US off-road motorcycle championship. Like the real-world competition, it’s big, bold and often brilliant.
But, sometimes, it is also too much of a derivation from its predecessors. Here’s our full review…
Some things in life are constant. A pizza is cooked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, a celebrity autobiography is 300 pages long and developer Milestone releases a new Monster Energy Supercross game on a yearly basis.
2023 is no different, with Supercross 6 launching 9th March, featuring all the motorbikes, teams, riders and stadium-filling tracks from the 2022 season.
Yes, we may be three months into this year already, but the current real-world events have already long started, and the game has last season’s roster.
We were hoping that with the Italian development team now reducing to just one off-road bike racing title per year – the FIM Motocross World Championship series also has a yearly game by Milestone, but last year those seemingly stopped – that the Supercross series could have an earlier release. For now, that’s not the case.
Still, no matter, this is a hugely successful gaming series, with one launched every year since 2018 and the franchise selling over 2.3 million units to date. Last season’s Supercross 5 was, in our view, the pinnacle so far.
Built on the Unreal Engine technology of the previous games, expecting Supercross 6 to be a revolution is a bit like expecting the Detroit Pistons to win the NBA Playoffs. It’s just unrealistic.
No, this is an evolution, with small tweaks and some new additions.
There’s a fresh Rhythm Attack game mode – which is reminiscent of something in MX vs ATV Legends – where you ride down a series of whoops. That’s a type of bump in Supercross, not a mistake followed by an exclamation…
The biggest change, however, is the Supercross Park. It’s now expected for a Supercross game to feature a supplementary open-world area and often, they have been mostly pointless.
That changed somewhat with 2022’s Supercross 5, where a rider shape system was integrated.
In order to alleviate pain in your ankle, for example, a task was set within a large area to collect the letters included in the word ‘SHAPE’. Not realistic in the slightest, but it finally gave us a reason to spend time outside of the official venues.
This returns in 6, alongside further optional races and tests set within Supercross Park, which is now much more varied in topography. These are closely integrated with the main career.
Thanks in part to the more detailed world, and the terrain being a lot more varied (including a small stadium, steeping downhill passes and giant jumps), these are a lot more fun than before. There’s also a central Fan Fest hub that reminds us of a Forza Horizon outpost.
An engrossing career
As ever, the career mode is the bulk of the game – a sprawling multi-year playthrough taking your fictionalised rider from the fictional Futures junior series, through the 250 series and onto overall 450 SX glory.
In-between races, you’ll spend cash earned through results on visual customisations for both your character and, provided you’re signed to a sponsor and not a factory team, performance-enhancing parts.
There’s also a five-pronged ability skill tree, points for which are gained through race results. But only a handful. To gain more, it’s back to the aforementioned Supercross Park to say hello to seven-time champion Jeremy McGrath.
He’s represented in physically modelled form, not just in-menu prompts and voiceover – a nice touch. He’s a bit wooden though, in fact, he’s more rigid than a dining room table with lips seemingly superglued together.
No matter, he’s there to deliver training sessions and short training races. Results in these deliver up to three stars, and stars can be used to unlock Coach Quest minigames, alongside career race results and actions, like your total number of scrubs and whips.
Completing these then unlocks more skill points. It’s all interlaced. Improve your rider’s abilities with skill points. Earn skill points by Coach Quests, unlock Quests by completing career races and or training races.
Regardless of the on-track performance, you get sucked into a flow of competing in championship races, then dipping to visit the Team America-puppet-like McGrath, competing in daft side events, upskilling, browsing the user-generated helmets and onto the next race. Repeat.
Most of these elements have been here before, it’s just now more cohesive and in an environment that’s more engaging. It’s as morish as a bag of M&M’s…
Solid, if unspectacular, riding
But you can’t live exclusively off a diet of candy, you need sustenance, and in an SX game that’s the core riding experience.
Spotting any differences from 12 months ago is like trying to find Waldo. For all intents and purposes this rides the same, save for some expanded set-up options. This means an approachable handling system, that isn’t an out-and-out simulator but can be tweaked to offer an authentic experience.
There’s the suite of superlative assists on offer – flow recovery and auto weight jumping are big helping hands for newcomers – and deformable surfaces.
In tight corners, or over some steep obstacles, however, there’s sometimes an ultimate lack of precision and the odd incident that feels random.
Your AI-controlled rivals are an element that we’re sure will spark debate. They’ve gone from being as quick as a field full of identical Eli Tomacs in Supercross 4, to an even mix in 5, to slower than a backmarker in 6.
We’re not trying to hype up our skills here – go watch windham151 or Start Your Systems for actual talent – but even on the ‘Hard’ difficulty level, with the rewind function switched on, admittedly, we were winning races at a canter.
Our method was to move across to the inside line after the gates drop, watch the AI gaggle together into the first corner and sweep by into a lead. Rarely fails. We’re hoping for some rival difficulty updates post-launch.
Spot the difference
Alongside the main career, there’s a Track Editor. Powerful, it is too, with several options and the ability to share your creations online or download others. Unfortunately, we had a hard time finding any changes here at all over 5, including the AI which simply cannot handle the creations.
Online racing follows a similar vein too. Public or private lobbies in a nearly identical fashion. Cross-platform online play is present however, first debuted on Milestone’s MotoGP 22 and Hot Wheels Unleashed last year.
This year there’s a new online ranking system. However, far from it featuring levels to progress through or being able to enter races with similar talent, it’s just an online ranking list based on your performance. Right…
Other quibbles remain, too. The Supercross Park may be a large area, but when you would like to enter a challenge, you must ride up to the set area, wait for a loading screen, select an event, wait for yet more loading and only then begin the event. Then do the same reversing out.
This almost defeats the whole purpose of it being an ‘open world’. Burnout Paradise this most certainly isn’t.
Another area where the differences between 5 and 6 remain imperceptible is the visuals. You’d be hard-pressed to spot any changes, even on a current-generation PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X and S. There’s a nagging feeling that perhaps now the older PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions are holding this game back.
See you same time, next year
Monster Energy Supercross The Official Videogame 6 (yes, that’s its full name) is a solid, enjoyable, romp through the world of SX and anyone new to the series will no doubt enjoy playing through the varied career mode.
But, we’ve been here, done that, drank the energy drink. Series regulars may not see enough innovation here to pick up this year’s iteration.
|9th March 2023
|PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S
|PlayStation 5 and PC
|Best played with
Full disclosure: A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Here is our review policy.