Riders Republic Review – XTreme Sports for Everyone

Developer Ubisoft Annecy, the maker of the hugely successful game Steep, has brought us a new extreme sports game in Riders Republic, and they added in bikes, jetwings, and more. Is the game ready with your lift ticket, or should you just stay all warm and toasty in the lodge.

Read on to find out.

 

When developer Ubisoft Annecy first released Steep in 2016 it was received well, but was almost a niche type of game without a massive audience. We loved it and once the game was offered as a free game for PlayStation Plus subscribers, quite a few others jumped in as well, to the tune of 10 million unique players by February of 2019. That’s a lot of shredders. Riders Republic, while not called the sequel to Steep, clearly is an amplification of that title, and the developer has taken the extreme sports genre to a whole new level.

Riders Republic Review – Seven American National Parks in One

Before we jump into the gameplay of Riders Republic, we wanted to talk about the world in which it plays out. In order to create an environment suitable for all of the types of gameplay involved within the game, the developer went to seven different National Parks in the US and recorded the GPS data needed to recreate parts of these parks digitally. The parks they visited and included in the game, in one massive map, are Bryce Canyon, Yosemite Valley, Sequoia Park, Zion, Canyonlands, Mammoth Mountain, and Grand Teton. They recreated forty five different landmarks for you to discover and learn about, all showing the rich history behind them.

Each area of the map is unique, with its own style of riding or flying. From the snow capped mountains of Mammoth, to the dirty floors of Bryce Canyon, each area is teeming with wildlife. You can see bears, cows, snakes, lizards, and all manner of critters scurrying out of your way. This makes each area feel alive and gives the game a sense of realism we didn’t expect. The level of detail for each region adds to that authenticity and realism, with each surface being felt from the haptic feedback of our Dualsense controller. There’s deep powder, gravel and dirt, and even mud when the weather changes from snow to rain, and the weather can change at anytime. The time of day is also constantly changing but can be manually changed by the player. An included Photo Mode also allows for you to change the weather.

Riders Republic Review – So Much to See and Do

Riders Republic has five different main disciplines for you to master in your career, and all of them will eventually test your patience and skill level. The opening sequence upon first launching the game introduces you to all of them, in one multi-sport race, to give you an idea of what’s to come. You’ll only have a mountain bike to start with once you’ve completed that intro, so you’ll have to start earning stars to unlock the rest of your gear, disciplines, and events. You get one star just for successfully finishing an event, so stars are pretty easy to come by early on. Each event also has bonus stars for completing secondary tasks, so keep an eye out for those.

Each discipline has it’s own career, so leveling up a trick bike career doesn’t level up your racing career. Same with snow careers. Multi-sport events do level up all of the included events, though, so if you are looking to level up faster, keep an eye out for those events. The game map is HUGE, but luckily for us there are fast travel points just about everywhere, but if you are really looking to get around the fastest possible way, search for the crashed airplane and take the jetwing relic for your own personal use. Here’s a shot of where it’s located on the map. The thing is the fastest jetwing we’ve found, but the controls make it almost unusable in a race. Going 160mph while traveling from point A to point B, though, is a bit of a time saver, just don’t expect to turn on a dime.

Riders Republic Review – The Three Food Groups

At Launch, Riders Republic is separated into three main sports: Ski & Snowboard, Mountain Bike, Wingsuit & Rocket Wingsuit. Each sport also has sub-groups for different types of racing and trick riding. Races use checkpoints to keep you on the current path, and this can be a pain when snow boarding down the side of a massive mountain at heart wrenching speeds. Your HUD does show you the direction of your next checkpoint, though, so the game does try to point you in the right direction. Missing a checkpoint will have you respawning back at that checkpoint, but the other racers will be continuing on down the hill, leaving you behind. Depending on the difficulty you selected to play on, you may be able to miss a couple checkpoints and still win the race.

In trick events you don’t need to be the first rider down the hill, and it took us a few events to realize that. The game gave us a tip, that we ignored of course, about being able to dismount whatever it was we were riding, and walking back up the course to earn more points. What we started doing was finding an obstacle that gave us maximum lift on our jump, which in turn gave us maximum air time to pull off some extreme or legendary tricks for maximum scores. Once that obstacle was complete, we pressed down on the directional pad to dismount and we would then run back up the hill to repeat the obstacle. Each event gives you a specified number of tricks to perform and through the first several events we were leaving multiple tricks on the table. Once we started making sure to use up all of our tricks, we started owning every trick event we entered, earning tons of stars and unlocking much better gear.

Riders Republic Review – Controlling Chaos

Riders Republic gives you two presets for controls, depending on which one you feel works better for you. We pretty much stuck to the racer controls because once you are airborne, the game switches you over to the Trickster anyway, making pulling off those legendary tricks a little easier. You can also turn on auto-landing and auto-rotation, which while helping you land those tricks, will also penalize your score by subtracting points if the game does help you to land. As with any game, practice makes perfect, so you may want to start out using some auto help, but eventually you probably won’t need it. The controls are pretty precise and easy to use, so the game doesn’t require you to be perfect on everything, like say a Tony Hawk game, in order to achieve some high scoring runs.

Riders Republic Review – The Gear and Sponsors

The developers didn’t shy away from licensed gear with Riders Republic. They went all in and got tons of it. With licensed bikes, boards, skis, clothes, boots, and more, you name it and they probably have it. Even Ford has a few 2021 Rangers and Broncos running around in-game. Earning gear is pretty easy, as some will come as you rank up ion different careers, while some can be earned by completing sponsor contracts. Contracts need to be selected from the options menu, and can include completing events, scoring some high scores on sick tricks, accumulating points from tricks, or even just accumulating stars. Each sponsor has its own rewards, so be sure to look around and pick the sponsor that has what you need.

Each piece of gear has a rating and a class. They can be standard, Expert, Pro, or Elite, and the higher it’s rated, the better you should be able to perform on it. Trick bikes need improved stats for sprinting, speed and rotation, while downhill bikes need things like absorption and grip to be higher. Snowboards and skis need the same things, so always make sure you are using the right tool for the job. There are also odd items called Funkies that can be used to earn more stars, but man those things can be terrible to control.

Riders Republic Review – Multiplayer Mayhem

Riders Republic is a massive multiplayer online game, so there are other players everywhere. For next gen gamers, Mass Races occur often and can include over 60 players at a time (PS4/XB1 is over 20). We jumped into a 64 player race that was multi-sport insanity. It consisted of three rounds, with each round having three sports involved in a multi-leg event. In the first round we started on a downhill mountain bike, hit a massive jump and launched on our jetwing, and then finished on downhill skis. The second and third rounds were similar and in the end, we finished in a disappointing 15th place. These events happen often and are crazy fun, but also can be crazy chaotic if you have 64 people launching downhill at once. There’s a lot of bumping, but other players can’t completely take you out. They can make you miss a checkpoint though, and that can really hurt you in the standings. There’s also a multiplayer mode called Tricks Battle, where two teams match up in a 6v6 arena and whoever scores the highest combined score captures districts.

Developer Ubisoft Annecy took everything they learned from Steep and created an even better experience with Riders Republic. From the recreations of the landmarks and beautiful scenery of the National Parks, to the wide variety of slopes and surfaces you’ll be screaming down, or flying through, or launching from, the environments are ready for you to go to the Xtremes. The bikes, boards, skis, and flying suits are ready for you as well.

Now excuse us while we go do a double back flip, no handy table top, with a left hand spin.

 

9


Riders Republic review code provided by publisher and reviewed on a PS5. For more information on scoring, please read What our review scores really mean.