Riders Republic is a big step up from Steep in many ways and is a whole lot of fun with multiple disciplines and biomes to keep your interest at an all time high.
Riders Republic is the latest extreme sports game from Ubisoft that released on October 28, 2021 for PC, Xbox and PlayStation. It follows 2016’s Steep which was my most played Xbox game in 2017 according to the Xbox Museum. While Steep was amazingly good fun for a long time, it eventually got stale for me when solely played on snowy ski slopes. Being from Western Australia and only having enjoyed real life ski slopes two times in my life, I don’t have the same attachment to snowy landscapes as others would. Riders Republic gives me the ability to focus on the extremely fun gameplay while choosing different race styles and climates to give me that much needed change of scenery. Playing this on PC, I could only use a controller. Keyboard/Mouse just felt so strange, no matter the different binding sets I tried, so definitely grab the controller for this one.
When you first step into the game and after creating your whacky character avatar, you’re greeted by a multi-sport race that starts you off with biking, then shifts to flying a rocket suit and finishes off with a ski leg at the end. You’re also guided to each of the stations that gets you into the multiple facets of this game from a central location. Like Steep, Riders Republic is packed with events and activities which gives you freedom to compete in events all over the game’s world, at any point in time that suits you. The skiing, snowboarding and wingsuit flying gameplay that was in Steep makes a return in Rider’s Republic and there’s also bike and rocket suit races, amongst others. For me, it’s almost overwhelming seeing all the events available to me, so I found I had to pick a discipline and concentrate on completing those events in that play session.
There’s even a little nod to Ubisoft’s Trials games with bike challenges in strategic locations. These are what I both enjoyed the most and was the most frustrated with, in a good gameplay sense. I absolutely love the Trials games and am eagerly awaiting an announcement from Ubisoft for the next Trials game, but these bike challenges will tide me over for now, just. They are freakin’ hard to just ride to the end of them, let alone trying to finish them within the time limit. The camera controls are just frustrating when you’re trying to balance and manouver on a board that is three bike tyres wide, and jumping to the next platform. Thank the gaming gods for the rewind button on those trick tracks!
The landscapes are a sight to behold, and despite hurtling down mountains at epic speeds, I often crashed hard because I was taking in the views of canyons and mountain ranges around me. The other reason I crashed hard was due to collision with other racers. Whether it was lag or if they were doing it on purpose, there was numerous times where I would be getting towards the head of the pack and approached a heavy corner, only to be bounced off multiple players and end up coming back of the pack or dead last in a matter of seconds. Other times I would be skiing down a steep slope weaving in between trees, only to be hip-bumped into several trees and left frustrated. Thankfully though, the collision changes added with Season 1 – Winter Bash seemed to have improved on this a lot and I was winning pro and above races much more often.
There is a zen mode which is an offline mode where we have access to all sports and can roam the world freely, but I liked seeing the heaps of other players zooming and crashing hard around me. If real player numbers are low at the time of playing, there is a ‘social presence’ feature which adds ghosts of real players ride paths. The game really felt alive and like you were in a theme park or ski resort area. It was in these times where I would just free roam in between events and came across some collectible items as well as discovering funny and unique events to complete. There is a pizza delivery bike where you need to drop pizzas off to people in this little wood cabin village. Then spread through the game world are scenic locations which gave us a spectacular view of some amazing locations as well as a bit of history about them.
Riders Republic is set within seven iconic US national parks of Bryce Canyon, Yosemite Valley, Sequoia Park, Zion, Canyonlands, Mammoth Mountain and Grand Teton. Sequoia has huge trees reaching to the skies and is perfect for bike races, whereas Zion is a hilly region with crests and deep valleys that made the wingsuit races feel incredible. Each region’s geology is faithfully recreated with GPS data, biomes and it’s landscapes have been faithfully inspired and created with procedural technologies. It’s these elements that really make me miss travelling the world given the current Covid climate. Plus you can stumble upon some relics in the environment which will unlock some pretty cool and unique racing vehicles.
Riders Republic has an in-game store where you can buy cosmetic items to make your character look awesome, though microtransactions are at the core here. There are daily and seasonal items that may catch your fancy and you can use cash earned from in-game for some items, but most require Republic Coins which you buy with real money. These are all cosmetic items and It’s not pay-to-win at all, but if you’re someone who loves to play around with changing the look of your avatar often, it’ll be your decision whether you drop money on the cosmetics or not. There’s plenty of items to unlock through gameplay though, it will just depend on your time availability and play style.
Playing with mates always makes any game better for me and Riders Republic has multiplayer options in spades. Tricks battles are always a laugh as you work in a team of 6v6 trying to out perform the other. Then there is the best feature of the game in my eyes, the Mass Races. Playing on PC or next-gen consoles, you’ll get to play in crazy 50 player races and it’s as chaotic as it sounds. PS4 and Xbox One players have been limited to 20 player racers but it doesn’t take away from the chaos which is great. Mass races see us racing in three sport disciplines over the course and it’s bloody good fun.
Ubisoft has a heap of post-launch content planned for the game and we’re currently in Season 1 – Winter Bash which runs through until March 22nd. The Winter Bash Season adds a new sponsor, a new jumbo bike exotic kit, weekly challenges as well as seasonal progression and rewards. Along with this playable stuff, there’s also been a heap of back-end improvements such as increased video quality on PS5/Xbox Series X, adjustments to mass race bike collisions (thank you Ubisoft!), increased quality of water and rivers, and more. Plus you can see what else is planned in the below Year 1 trailer. I’m definitely looking forward to season 3 which adds the BMX sport.
Overall, I gave the game an 8.5/10. Riders Republic is a big step up from Steep in many ways and is a whole lot of fun with multiple disciplines and biomes to keep your interest at an all time high. With banging music tracks and plenty of sights to explore, the game has a long life ahead, particularly with seasonal content and just the sheer variety on offer.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis