We'll admit that the announcement of MXGP 3 didn't blow us away initially. Perhaps it was because last year's MXGP 2 was underwhelming and in many ways a step backwards for the franchise with its cutback terrain deformation. It's also hard not to be sceptical about annual racing game releases tied to motorsport licenses, since they often provide incremental updates that do little to shake up the gameplay. MXGP 3 promises to change this assumption, however, with the debut of dynamic weather effects and a new graphics engine powered by Unreal Engine 4.
While we've yet to see the game in motion, new screenshots have been released showcasing the dynamic weather effects, with impressive levels of detail that already look like a significant step up from MXGP 2. The effects won't just be superficial, either. Along with affecting the improved track terrain deformation, Milestone promises that sudden rain downpours will have a profound effect on the gameplay, reduce visibility, and make races more unpredictable.
“Have you ever ridden a dirt bike on a muddy surface, under pouring rain? Believe me, it’s not for the faint hearted," said Lead Designer Luca Simonotti. "Adding weather conditions to MXGP3 will provide the most extreme players with a new kind of thrill, and the particle effects will make the whole experience muddy as hell.”
Visuals and sound are often the weakest aspects of Milestone's games, which often look woefully dated compared to the competition. This hopefully won't be the case with MXGP 3, thanks to a new graphics engine powered by Unreal 4. “The switch to Unreal Engine 4 has provided us with the tools to make every corner of the tracks really shine," said Iasevoli e Mattioli from the game's art department. "Whether it’s the coloured smoke-screens enveloping the cheering crowd or the new terrain deformation, the environment will constantly feel crisp, alive and real.”
Likewise, dynamic lighting effects will make the visuals more realistic than ever before. “Lighting is not something you immediately perceive when playing a videogame, but it really changes things," Lead Programmer Gianluca Barbera explained. "In MXGP3 the lighting is based in reality, so it adapts in a dynamic way, providing the environments with an unprecedented depth.” Sound design is also said to have been improved, with improved engine sounds and ambient audio effects.
MXGP 3 sounds like it's steering in the right direction so far, but we'll have wait until we've seen it in motion before we can give a more informed judgement. Look out for the inevitable gameplay trailers coming shortly in the run up to MXGP 3's release on PS4, Xbox One and PC this Spring.
Milestone is also gearing up to announce a new racing IP at this year's GDC which starts on February 27th, so stay tuned for more information soon.