A few months ago I had the opportunity to enter the gigantic extreme sports paradise Riders Republic from Ubisoft Annecy. After a 5 hour game I was pretty impressed and wanted to keep playing this game, basically a sequel to Steep from 2016.
Now, a few days after its official premiere (because we wanted to wait for officials to be active and full to write this analysis), Riders Republic is officially available and I spent the weekend in its massively multiplayer scenario entirely around to see if that’s worth it.
If you aren’t sure what Riders Republic is, this is an extreme sports game with a lot of foresight. The setting is a fictional country called The Republic, which is made up of several US national parks, including Yosemite, Sequoias, and Grand Teton. Players must make a name for themselves in the country to be selected and participate in the top activity, the Ridge Invitational, by participating in various races, stunts and wild events.
The selection process to participate in the Ridge Invitational is not easy. You will need to collect a large number of stars that will accumulate from the rewards for taking exams, completing alternative objectives, and exploring the world. Unlike in Steep, Riders Republic is not limited to activities in the snow and in the air, but you can explore the gigantic landscape while riding bicycles, skis, snowboards, air suits and rocket wings. You will use all of these modes of transport on all five trajectories to earn stars and unlock more exams on your way to compete at Ridge International.
The various modalities seemed a bit inconsistent to me. The bikes are a strong point and you can tell that Ubisoft Annecy has spent a lot of time perfecting its game mechanics and features. Whether you’re going down a huge slope on a mountain bike or making giant jumps at trick events, bikes are a guarantee for fun and strong emotions. On the other hand, flight activities are a bit exhausting, either with the wingsuit or with the rocketwing. The latter has been improved since the beta and you notice that it’s easier to use, but in general these activities, including the wingsuit, don’t end like the bikes.
Trials in the snow are also a lot of fun (after all, steep is the origin), but they lack the freedom that cycling offers. These are mostly stunt events or slalom races that are fun, but rarely can you descend a slalom course before it repeats itself.
All of this adds to the appeal of Riders Republic as you don’t have to be a die-hard fan of all sports to fall in love with this game. The republic is an incredibly large open world that offers endless ways to enjoy it. There are more than enough biking, snow, or flying activities to please fans of any modality, and there are also online events to take part in and explore the world for yourself.
It is worth noting that the open world has the typical Ubisoft essence and presents some of the typical open world elements that have already been used ad nauseam, like the 500 (!) Riders Republic balloons that you have to find and collect, but there are moments when it is noticeable that the study is trying to get out of this stereotype. Since Riders Republic is a multiplayer mode, there are no scattered hordes of NPCs to make the world seem more alive, instead there are thousands of ghosts from other players who give the Republic that feeling of activity. This only changes for online testing as ghosts also participate in races and normal tests (unless you join a team) which poses some problems as the ghosts bump you into and push you off the track without flinching . And that becomes very irritating indeed.
In the online tests, which range from trick battles to massive races, you play with real people, which is a relief but at the same time doesn’t show much as the ghost system is implemented in large numbers. While the stunt battles are fun, it’s the massive races that stand out as they bring 64 players together in one room to compete against each other on three exclusive tours in hopes of being at the top. As you’d expect, these are races that are really amazing and a lot of fun, but they reveal an issue that is increasingly bugging me with Riders Republic: the equipment rating system.
At the start of the game, you’ll be assigned basic low-grade equipment that, while allowing you to move from point A to point B, lacks the speed and grip required to achieve dizzying scores or times. This is not a big problem in the early stages of the game, but once you get over 200 stars you start to compete with ghosts who are armed with objects that have hundreds of points more than yours, making them practically impossible unless you have an accident or step up yourself to get the performance gear which means you will compete in more races against the misclassified ghosts. This system also affects online activity, which basically gives the players with the best gear a huge advantage over everyone else and while there is no payout to win I can’t help but think that item values the competitive integrity of online tests should be removed.
With that said, I’m still a big believer that Riders Republic is a very special game. Ghosts can be annoying at times, and of course the ranking system doesn’t work well, but they’re just minor issues that arise after playing long hours over several days and aren’t serious enough to affect the true contribution of Riders Republic , which is supposed to be a game that is fun from start to finish. If I had to say in one sentence what I think of Riders Republic, I would say that in extreme sports, it’s the equivalent of Forza Horizon. Just as Horizon captivates you with an exciting world and countless exciting and unrepeatable events, time flies in Riders Republic as you try again to master races, stunts and online activities in your own way and at your own pace. . With that in mind, whether you are a fan of extreme sports or not, I recommend that you give Riders Republic a try, as it is very likely to surprise you, as it did a few months ago.