Saturday, June 12, 2021
Ubisoft has a thing for incredibly ambitious open-world video games. In The Crew, it created a compact version of America – which, may I add, was still bloody enormous. In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Ubi Montreal did pretty much the same with England… and Norway… and heck, they even went to North America (and now Ireland) for a stint. And in Steep, Ubi Annecy gave you a vast stretch of treacherous mountain terrain to explore. My point is: when Ubisoft goes big, it goes BIG, and, Riders Republic is cut from that same cloth.
Riders Republic, for all intents and purposes, is a spiritual successor to the actually rather decent extreme winter sports game Steep, but in true Ubisoft style, the scope has been expanded tenfold, increasing the quota of outdoor sports to include bikes and rocket wingsuits – as eventually seen in Steep, thanks to DLC. So, what you’re presented with is: snowboards, skis, bikes, wingsuits, rocket wingsuits, gliders, parachutes, paramotors and snowmobiles (the last are more for map traversal than events, it should be said).
Again, like Steep, Riders Republic is chock-full of content, which ranges from a career mode, which is split into six separate paths (two ski (we assume this includes snowboards as well), two bike and two wingsuit), encompassing a load of big events with proper sponsors, like the Red Bull Rampage, for instance. Additionally, there are more competitive multiplayer games and shenanigans, as well as general exploration, which includes seeking out landmarks and what not. And the best thing? It can all be played with friends, too, if you like. With seven national parks to explore as well, you’re never going to be short of content or stuff to do.
That said, I’m not sure you can argue that many Ubisoft games are ever short on content - the problem with the company's games, especially those of the open-world ilk, is the hook – ie. the reason to keep players coming back for more. And, developer Ubisoft Annecy has, in my opinion, given itself a great chance in doing just that this time around, in two ways that really caught my eye.
Firstly, the 6 vs. 6 competitions look like a ridiculous amount of fun, especially the game mode that tasks competing snowboarders with capturing certain zones within a snow park to raise the team’s multiplier. It was the first time I’ve looked at something that Ubisoft Annecy has done between Steep and Riders Republic and thought: that’s the kind of thing that would be at home in an old-skool SSX game.
And secondly (also, an important aspect for me), you have the Mass Starts, which are effectively chaotic massive multiplayer online races. I say massive, but that's only really the case on next-gen consoles, which offer “50+” players, compared to last-gen’s 20-player count. These massive online races will take place every hour across the game world, and to me, they’re the perfect sports game equivalent to the battle royale craze that we’re still going through. Equal parts skill and equal parts luck are required, but genuine laughs are pretty much assured with so many players all clamouring for the finish line!
On top of that you can expect the usual collectibles, stunts (there are even some relics to search out) and plenty of gear to unlock – which go towards improving your rider, making them a more worthwhile element, beyond being merely cosmetic customisation options.
It remains to be seen just how different Riders Republic will be when compared to Steep upon its launch later this year – because let’s be honest, it’s effectively the same game but with bikes and a smattering of cool new additions. It’s essentially a sequel in all but name. Also, (not gonna lie) I preferred the name 'Steep'. Regardless of all that, with the solid game mechanics lifted from Steep, mixed with bikes and some crazy multiplayer action, Ubisoft could really be onto something this time around. Ultimately, we’ll find out when Riders Republic launches on 2nd September 2021. Whatever happens, we’re definitely looking forward to those frantic 50 player races - we truly are!
Riders Republic launches on 2nd September 2021 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.