Rider’s Republic: Closed Beta Preview
Steep, the action snowsports title from Ubisoft, got a bit of a bum rap in my humble opinion. Sure it had issues but it brought something new to the actions sports genre, a sense of freedom. There was a very real feeling of freedom as you were left to tackle the mountains as you desired, in a way you desired. That alone made it a game I enjoyed my time with. Now the same team are back, not with Steep 2, but an extreme sports title that builds on Steep to bring something with an even grander scale to players. Welcome to the Rider’s Republic.
I am sure you have all seen the trailers by now. This game is splattered with everything that says “extreme” in the world of sports. From garish colours to crazy outfits to the Red Bull sponsorship, you are getting exactly what they are selling here. But I am pleased to say there is much more to Rider’s Republic than just an “extreme” attitude, in fact, there are some seriously impressive things going on here.
First things first, this game has grand ambitions. There are so many sports here to take on. From bikes to snowboards, rocket gliding to skiing and everything in between, Ubisoft has thrown everything at this one. What is even more impressive is that each sport feels unique and controls exceptionally well. The sense of speed is very real here and that translates into some serious heart-in-mouth racing and teeth-clenching tricks. The game does a wonderful job of conveying just how crazy and dangerous all this stuff really is.
The graphics are wonderful too, with many distinct environments to explore and shred. It is a truly varied landscape with something for every type of sport and each area littered with wonderful little details. Things like mud and snow flicking up bikes and onto the rider’s back are the type of small details I am talking about. Not killer features by any means but it shows care and respect from the developers as they try to create an authentic experience. The game lacks any RTX or DLSS features at this stage on PC, but that could very well change between now and launch, so things could look even better.
The most impressive thing for me however is the accessibility of the game. I am not just talking about the now standard, class-leading disability accessibility options that appear in all Ubisoft games. I am talking about the many ways the experience can be tailored to players of all skill levels and abilities. You can choose between button-based tricks or stick based tricks, add landing assists, tweak difficulties, adust cameras and basically tinker with a range of options until the game is set just how you like it. I have never seen such a wide range of options for players to tailor a game to suit them. The best part of it is, no one is penalised for using assists. Players who don’t use them will get more points for tricks with a landing bonus, but they are more likely to crash and lose all their points so it evens out in the end. It is all very welcoming to players of all levels and I applaud Ubisoft for their efforts in this area.
Where this game will hit or miss is the campaign and sadly in a limited beta, it is hard to tell how that will play out. At this stage, it looks like it will be a solid experience but it is impossible to say if it will fall to repetition or uninspired events. It does however look to reward players at almost every turn with a plethora of new gear unlocking after almost every race. By the end of the beta I had 6 or 7 bikes, a few snowboards and sets of skis and a snowmobile at my command, all easily accessible at any point during free roam with the press of a few buttons.
I thought I would enjoy my time with Rider’s Republic, it is my brand of fun, but I didn’t think it would impress me as much on a technical level. Ubisoft has the potential to really bust open the extreme sports genre with this game and create a landmark title in that space. Hopefully, they can stick the landing with a solid career mode and stable online play, because if they can, they may well be looking at one of the biggest surprises of the year.