I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I’m telling you, Riders Republic it’s a cool game.” You can win a pizza delivery bike in the next event, according to a disembodied voice leading me through this bright new civilization of extreme sports freaks in the Alps. Whether she realizes it or not, she’s also being critical of herself. All of the students here sound like they’ve just graduated from Chloe’s Life Is Strange English class. It’s a little much.
You have to recognize that going overboard may sometimes be beneficial. It’s no surprise that Ubisoft Annecy’s Steep 2 sequel is a maximalist game, but it’s also uncontrolled and jabbering one. In addition to snowsports and wingsuits, riding disciplines and motorized vehicles may be shifted between in real-time with a button press and thumbstick flick in the game’s predecessor.
Using real-world national parks, the global map is made out of red rock, blossoming tundra, and snowy white mountains. The park ranger protagonist is greeted by a plague of event markers, which he or she must clean up utilizing their prowess at shredding, catching sick bumps, and other zany antics. Spectacular events, unlocked by attaining milestones in a certain discipline, provide a wide range of geographical options and are a highlight in their own right. In the shadows of the competitions, proline runs requiring boldness and finesse comparable to those of Super Meat Boy may be found. There’s a lot of variation in this place. Disembodied voices sometimes lead us to mass events in which 64 participants go on ridiculous journeys by bike, ski, snowboard, and rocket wingsuit in an effort to raise money for charity. This is like speed-dating games like SSX, Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX, and Superman 64 plus a whole lobby full of PUBG sociopaths to accompany you!
This mashup of Forza Horizon, The Crew 2, and Destiny has a lot more going on than Steep did. Riders Republic has a habit of releasing fresh content after each event is over. There is a lot more to do and a lot more items to buy, as well as a new character level and new events. There are sponsors that provide daily tasks that, when performed, shower even more goods all over the floor.
It’s tempting to get caught up in the whirlwind of Riders Republic’s frantic growth and appreciate it on its own terms. Take part in a race, see a short cinematic of a snowboard getting unlocked, and then continue racing.
That’s what I’d do. Do not think too much, simply follow the X-Games brothers and winning stars and nod your head along with them. Because it’s constructed on sand, much like so many communist states in the 20th century. Many of these fields are built on physics models, and here is where things become interesting. Ubisoft Annecy is clearly striving for simplicity, but in reducing each handling model to such simple terms, it’s removing much of what should be intriguing about sending an MTB down a mountain.
The fact that there is no wheelie feature and no method to endo took me a long time to accept. From 360 superman backflips to tuck no-handers, I can wreak havoc on Isaac Newton once I’m in the air. The characters in Grand Theft Auto V have a larger array of abilities than the citizens of the Republic. The one called after Riders, of course. It’s impossible that they didn’t come to anyone’s mind during the four-year development of an accomplished extreme sports game by an experienced studio, which means either a) Ubisoft Annecy thinks we don’t want to wheelie, or b) some dark, code-gargling force in the game engine makes it impossible to implement it correctly. In any case, it is unfortunate.
Victory comes down to three factors: berm pumping, changing rider weight, and front and rear brake settings. The first is the selection of lines. Secondly, the bike you’re using. It’s also vital to consider how collisions with other players have thrown you. Remember the 64-player mega-events.
Stunt controls fair better in long-term exploration, especially with manual landing options. Preparing for takeoff and releasing grabs and gyroscope-like stances like a rogue gyroscope never gets old. Trick-based events have been going on over the globe for a long time. Not at all. It’s the races where you have the time to want more.
Compared to snowsports, bike races seem the most vulnerable because of their more accessible controls. As a skier or snowboarder, you’ll want to keep an eye on the ground for any potential collisions, no matter what you’re wearing. All that matters is that you’re having fun in the snow regardless of the occasional dead-stop landings and race-ruining bumps off of unseen geometry. As far as wingsuits go, they’re just as you’d anticipate. In this country, there’s no one who can stop you from flying through colorful circles since there’s a fun ceiling.
Then, let’s talk about tone. When it comes to extreme sports culture, Ubisoft Annecy is either lampooning it or replicating it completely. The playlist, the Gangsta’s Paradise cover, the Offspring tracks, and the overall feeling of an omniscient Steve Buscemi in a backward cap someplace above, looking down for approval, have all been the subject of much discussion and criticism. It’s true that Riders Republic’s music and speech frequently fall short of the desired target, and that it sounds a lot like a video game developer attempting to mimic the coolness of a lion on a coat of arms.
But between us, I’d rather have a soundtrack full of tedious Coolio covers in return for some technical changes. C U When U Get There is a great song to sing to me in return for an online racing choice. Ukulele 1,2,3,4 in exchange for rider weight controls that enable precise control and wheelies? That sounds good to me. Rollin’ With My Homies by Mumford and Sons would be ideal if pressing the backtrack button rewinds the AI as well, not just me.
There are a few niggles in the tone. At moments, there’s a hazy incoherence to contend with. So far, I’m not ready to pack up, shave off my soul patch, or get my significant tattoo lasered off and join the ranks of the normals. In the absence of Riders Republic, why do I care so much about winning large events? My new skis have a higher serial number, so why do I feel excited?
Because I’ve stopped waiting for it to be the extreme sports game I desire and instead began enjoying the anarchy, I’ve had a better time with it.
Maybe not the best extreme sports video game, but it’s still enjoyable to play on its own merits. It’s an adrenaline rush and player growth accompanied by some dubious music during a basic, socially uncomfortable jamboree. For another way of saying the same thing, I promise you it’s cool.