It would seem that video games and outdoor sports are at different poles of human activity. The antagonism of a skiing or cycling lover is a nerd who sits nonstop at a computer, hoarding not kilometers traveled off-road, but hundreds and thousands of hours in DotA. Nevertheless, even these sets sometimes intersect – when it comes to such a genre as sports simulators. Five years ago, Ubisoft pleased fans of active winter recreation with a good Steep, and now it releases Riders Republic. Before us Steep 2 or something really new?
American beauty at Riders Republic
The fact that the new Ubisoft Annecy project is similar to Steep was clear from the time of the announcement. Everything that we saw in the previous game – a huge open world filled with many extreme sports tracks, a variety of equipment, costumes, tasks and challenges – migrated to Riders Republic almost unchanged. More precisely, there are changes, but they are mostly quantitative, not qualitative.
If Steep had only winter sports (plus wingsuit and paragliding), and the entourage itself was a classic snowy highlands, then here the map is noticeably more diverse. The reason is simple: bikes of all kinds have been added – from racing to stunts, and accordingly there is a need for types of terrain other than snow. Based on seven American national parks located on the west coast of the United States, combining them on a huge map.
As a result, we got a typical “Ubisoft” open world (and what, someone expected something else?): a clear division into biomes, regions unlocked as you progress through, and hand-made unique places where the player is unobtrusively offered to admire especially beautiful views and make a couple of photos of your loved one surrounded by natural beauty.
And there is something to see here: the picture is quite decent even without discounts for the huge sizes of locations. Changing the time of day, weather effects, the already mentioned variety of environments, very beautiful landscapes – all this allows you to use the game as a means of relaxation. You can relax while traveling the world without fuss – for this, a special “zen mode” is available in the main menu, where nothing will distract you from your rest.
Not a luxury, but a means of transportation in Riders Republic
However, natural landscapes, no matter how beautiful they are on the screen, are still better to admire in real life. And Riders Republic, despite all the external data, is primarily about competition. We are offered to compete in several disciplines, which are divided into five types of careers: cycling, cycling, snow racing, snow tricks and flying in the air. Each career is divided into three sports: freeride and slopestyle for bike tricks, for example, and the third type is a joke competition, like racing on an ice cream trike or tricking skis from rough tree trimmings.
According to the career, the equipment for the respective sports is also divided. Here the developers did not stint, adding dozens of models for each discipline. Equipment differs not only in appearance, but also in characteristics – to open a more advanced one, you need to complete tasks, earning experience and in-game currency. Finally, there are the special vehicles needed to get to points of interest quickly: jet skis, snowmobiles, paragliders and jet bikes.
Management of all this wealth is quite simple – a few buttons plus their combinations to perform tricks. I advise hardcore fans to turn off the help when grinding and landing in the settings – trips become more difficult, but noticeably more interesting, and in this case they give much more experience points for successful tricks.
Faster, higher, stronger
Let’s move on to the most important thing – directly to the competition. Marks of races available for starting are scattered around the map – they do not appear immediately, but as you progress through your career (sports, by the way, also open gradually – you have to spend several hours to get access to all). You will have to compete in these races either with bots or with “ghosts” – records of past attempts by other participants. For completing the track, the player receives stars that reflect career progress and serve as a measure of the coolness of the character.
Feelings from such competitions are twofold. It seems to be the main type of competition in the Riders Republic, but all the rivalry is taken offline – the sensations, of course, are completely different from those on the Web. It would be better to remove these ghostly opponents altogether, especially since they are not so incorporeal – you can encounter them, which sometimes leads to sad consequences.
With purely multiplayer fights, too, not everything is going smoothly. Taking part in them, on the one hand, is as easy as shelling pears – you need to sign up for a queue at the hub, which is a sports camp in the center of the map. But the limited number of participants (only a dozen) and the long recruitment of players are not encouraging, although while waiting for the start, you can go about your business, including riding in regular races. In addition to the usual races, there is also such a multiplayer discipline as Tricks Battle – a battle between two teams of six people each, where you need to earn points by performing tricks.
Finally, the most potentially interesting multiplayer fun is the so-called mass races. These are special events that are not available all the time, but only at a strictly defined time (approximately every hour). Over fifty participants compete in the race, divided into several stages with a “seamless” change of sports discipline. In the announcements, all this looked much more interesting than it turned out in practice: the mass character here is rather a minus – the chaotic crowd of players (especially at the start) terribly interferes with orientation, and the use of several sports at once sharply reduces the chances of winning for those who are not strong at least in one discipline.
I was hoping for a kind of analogue of Fall Guys in a sporty environment, but it turned out to be an ordinary race, and not very comfortable at all. Perhaps this is a good challenge for those who are already bored with the usual tasks, but for beginners it will not be possible to get used to these massive races immediately.
Selfie on the background of mountains
Interaction with other players is not limited to competitions. Other fans of virtual extreme can be found right while traveling on the map – they will be marked with a special icon. In a similar way, only with an icon of a different color and size, they indicate computer racers – the idea is understandable (to create a sense of mass character), but it looks completely fake.
Players encountered in the open world can be called into a group – this allows, among other things, to compete with each other during the completion of normal tasks. There is also indirect interaction – a separate creative mode where you can create your own tracks and share them with the community. Well, the photo mode, where without it – a bunch of settings, filters, poses and other lotions allows you to create quite decent pictures.
Ubisoft reinvented the wheel by releasing almost the same simulator as Steep – but this is clearly not the case when developers should be scolded for such an approach. Yes, Riders Republic did not become a revelation or a milestone in the development of sports games. Before us is a logical and consistent development of the ideas of the previous Ubisoft Annecy project, with the principles of gameplay and proprietary service familiar to the authors. The advantages here are still the same – a nice-looking picture, the “Just a little more, and that’s enough” effect, due to which, after going to a couple of races, you stay for a couple of hours, and there is even more diversity in all aspects. If you like Steep, then the novelty will definitely not leave you indifferent.
Pluses: a variety of sports disciplines; the opportunity to just relax while traveling on a huge map; nice picture.
Cons: the competitive part looks faded against the background of other gaming activities.