The game encompasses several modes: Motocross, Opencross, Supercross, Supermoto, Endurocross, Free Ride and Minibikes, among others. The player has a relatively wide choice of vehicles, from monster trucks, to trophy trucks, to ATVs to motorbikes. In some modes, gameplay takes place over two motos, or qualifying events. The player's finishing position in the first moto determines who gets gate choice in the second moto. The player's finishing position in each moto determines how many points he or she gets. The goal is to finish the weekend with the most points. Additionally, in some modes, the player can participate in a short practice race, which can help players become familiar with the track and the vehicle prior to the two motos. Setting the fastest time in practice gives the player first gate choice for the first moto. There is also a "Free Ride" mode which allows the player to explore indoor and outdoor locations featured in the other modes without time or track restrictions.
All versions of Untamed support multiplayer, with handheld versions supporting up to 4 players via a local wireless network (without cross-platform play) and the console versions supporting head-to-head racing between just two players on split-screen, while utilizing online multiplayer to support contests with larger player pools, similar to its predecessor Unleashed. The Wii version supports multiple control schemes, namely the Wii Wheel, the Wii Remote and Nunchuk or the Classic Controller, with most control schemes leveraging motion controls to steer and execute tricks. The mobile version is a side-scrolling racer, omitting the larger machines to focusing on MX and ATV only.
This was also the last game in the MX vs. ATV series to feature single stick turning controls. In Untamed, only the left joystick is used to control all aspects of leaning and turning for the vehicle in use. All versions of the game that were released after MX vs. ATV Untamed included dual-stick controls, which require the player to use both the left and right joystick to complete a full turning motion. Often in these games, one stick would be used to lean the rider in the desired direction while the other would be used to turn the vehicle in unison.
Tuning options are available in the settings of the game. Performance options include acceleration, speed, suspension, engine, and brakes. Many of the settings are customizable to varying degrees using a sliding bar. For example, sliding the bar down for suspension would create softer suspension, while sliding the bar up would make for stiffer suspension.
Visual customization options are also available within the game; however, they do not affect the overall performance of the player. Visual customization for vehicles is found under the “vehicle parts” tab and includes graphic kits, grip color, hand guards, handlebars, plastic color, hub color, tires, rim color, exhausts, suspensions, and fork tube color. Visual customization for the rider is found under the “customize rider” tab and includes helmets, goggles, gear, boots, chest protectors, name, number, and skin tone. If players wish to use a predetermined setup, they can also choose one from the “MX Pro Rider” tab in the customization options.