Of all the American motorsports the country has to offer, Motocross has to be the most exciting product in some time. The perfect mix of NASCAR’s repetition, sprint car unpredictability, and raw unbridled skill, seeing a 450cc Kawasaki leap over the finish line as fireworks spew from every angle never gets tiring, and this is something Italian developers Milestone knows. That’s why Monster Energy Supercross 6 is here to kick dirt in your face.
This is the latest installment of the series dedicated to showing off the US Supercross championship, and yet another motorbike-related title from Milestone S.r.l, which is their bread and butter. Cutting their teeth with the SBK series of games, they’ve gradually expanded to cover the MotoGP and MXGP championships, while breaking the cycle occasionally to bring something unique from their catalog. 2021’s Hot Wheels Unleashed and 2018’s Gravel are small, but important, examples of the variety they dare to possess.
If your knowledge of the Monster Energy Supercross games, or Motocross in general, is minimal, it’d be remiss of me to note that you are missing out on an underseen racing sub-genre. The MES series in particular showcases fantastic track design, a test of racing skill, and unequaled spectacle, with fireworks spewing out of every spot that isn’t covered in dirt and gasoline. It’s a testament to Western extravaganza, one which sees brawn win out every time.
Like any Motocross game worth its salt, the unique control scheme method used for games like Monster Energy Supercross is available and heartily recommended. With the left stick used for handlebar movement, and the right stick controlling the rider’s weight atop the bike, it focuses on positioning and curvaceous track design more than most. With that said, despite the exhilarating feeling this control scheme provides, even now, years since its introduction, this is the first time that something has felt off about the affair.
Since the first release in 2018, Monster Energy Supercross has been steadily upping its game with new features added in these yearly installments, but this is the first time fatigue has kicked in. Bear in mind that it’s not fatigue derided from boredom, since the gameplay can still be skillful fun, but fatigue from simply being a yearly installment. The formula of MES has been expanded upon and tweaked all these years, and now its reached an apex, where else can it go past a peak?
The only answer is down in the dumps. Monster Energy Supercross 6 feels muted, lacking the punch its predecessors possessed. Tracks and stadiums no longer pack the punch of gate-bursting crowds and over-expensive pyro-technics, an aesthetic disappointment that used to be a small crux of the series. Even the Career mode feels like a punch-card slot, one with no fanfare, even as Motocross legend Jeremy McGrath applauds your skill, and sits alongside you at the podiums.
The visual and mechanical murkiness of Monster Energy Supercross 6 is but one part of the problem, the other part being what can only be described as oversights in terrain. In previous entries, bikes would genuinely react with tame, but noticeable differences when it came to skidding across dirt, or gravel, or sand, and even tarmac. With this entry, however, everything feels like dirt except for the tarmac, which your bike seems to awkwardly float across with no traction and grip provided.
Still, Monster Energy Supercross has always been about growth, which is why you can allocate skill points in the career mode to alleviate yourself against the tough conditions of Motocross schedules. Despite this, there doesn’t feel like a difference is made here, whether it's 40% easier to execute a scrub, or 80%. It wouldn’t be that hard-pressed of the player to ignore the skill tree entirely, and still make podiums every time.
You can also upgrade your bike with the credits you win in races, but this is another implementation that can be easily ignored. In fact, it can be ignored to the point where you can go through the entirety of a 450cc championship with a 250cc bike, and come out of it none the wiser, something I only discovered halfway through my second 450cc championship. It’s a pretty shameful oversight that compounds all the problems into one.
It might be an explanation as to why the game was so easy, since for the first time in Monster Energy Supercross, 450cc bikes are absolute torture to ride. The tracks themselves are fine, mainstays like Anaheim, Foxborough, and Daytona Beach being a joy to play in their conditions and layouts, but getting a 450cc bike to ride around them is painful. You’ll need a wide berth almost every time you approach a turn of any sharpness, whereas, in previous entries, the loss of grip would provide more fluid turns.
It’s a shame to see, since a lot of the features added in Monster Energy Supercross are now fully realized, if ultimately ignored towards the later stages of the games. Stuff like injuries you have to work off for better bike control, paying attention to the flow of the tracks and their ramps to shave seconds off your time, it’s the stuff that made Monster Energy Supercross great to begin with. Now though, 6 games in, this may need a rest, if not for the health of the studio, then the health of the sport.
As it stands, Monster Energy Supercross 6 is in a poor position when put alongside its peers, not even being able to stand near the podium of optimal games in the series. Yearly installment fatigue has finally set in a series that showcased one of the most exciting motorsport products available right now. It feels cheap, unoptimized mechanically, and more like a setback when compared to the past, which is devastating to see.
TechRaptor reviewed Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 6 on Xbox One using a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on Xbox Series S|X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC.
- Driving control scheme can still be exciting
- Track design can show challenge in structure & flow
- Career mode is underdeveloped and full of oversights
- 450cc bikes are awful to race in most formats
- The most visually drab of the series thus far
- Upgrades and skill trees offer no depth in player growth