Riders Republic Trial Impressions, Mayhem, Thrills, and Spills
There’s been a surprising lack of extreme sports titles over the past few years. These titles used to dominate the online space with players being able to take on all manner of extreme sports in arcade fashion. Something that’s started to make a resurgence was these titles, one of the most prevalent being Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. However, there are hundreds of other extreme sports that players have been able to take on that don’t consist of shredding the halfpipe on a board.
Aside from skateboarding, there are sports like BMX riding, downhill racing, snowboarding, skiing, and even something as adrenaline-pumping as wing suiting. There are tons of players who would want to take part in these kinds of things. However, there are also people who know that they’re probably going to not do it. Many factors can play into this, like being too afraid to take the plunge for fear of bodily harm, or just not having the money to purchase all the necessary materials. While these seem like silly reasons to not partake in some causal snowboarding, they’re why games like Tony Hawk Pro Skater, or in this case Riders Republic, have an audience. Combining arcade fun with the thrill of being able to take to the trails and slopes for high octane competitions are what players want to see from a title like this. As they’re easy to pick up and put down, investment of time isn’t a problem for the game, and they’re not going to have to worry about being locked in some kind of story while they’re playing.
Ubisoft’s new title Riders Republic knows this, and with this in mind, they’re going to test the waters to see if players are interested in the game, as well as give players some time to test out how the game works.
Riders Republic Trial Impressions
The Public Trial lasts until tomorrow night, so players who have some time to kill should at least pick it up and give it a shot. However, there’s one massive catch for the title that’s going to hinder players’ experiences if they’re aiming to play with friends.
Everything the player is able to do in the full game is going to be available for all other players to try out during the trial. However, Ubisoft isn’t going to let players run wild throughout the game without a restriction. This restriction comes in the form of a strict time limit of four hours. As soon as players boot the game they’re given 4 hours to play as much as they want until time runs out. However, this time limit doesn’t continue ticking after the game is closed. There’s going to be four hours of gameplay, and any time spent outside of the app isn’t going to count, which is good, but the real question remains: how does the gameplay?
Jumping into the game, players are going to be treated to a tutorial. They’re going to have to complete the tutorial before they’re really let loose into the game. I did find this kind of annoying, however, the tutorial is full of cutscenes where they explain the game mechanics, and the world, as well as how the player is going to level up throughout their time in the Riders Republic. The tutorial is spliced throughout races so players can keep having fun while they’re running around the world. This makes it a little bit easier to digest, but being pulled out of the game and then being called by one of the characters to explain more about the way that mechanics work. There are times in the game where it feels like it’s holding the player’s hand, and times where it’s letting the player go. On more than one separate occasion, I’ve felt like I was let go from the tutorial, only to be swept back into it after finishing a race.
The tutorial in total lasted about an hour, and while I feel like I understand the way the game works, I do feel like it took a little too long to complete, especially with the hard time limit for the game’s demo. After the tutorial, players should be left with around three hours of playtime.
Once players are let free, there’s all manner of things that players can do. Riders Republic is an open world, and players are free to ride as much as they want unless they want to complete a race. In the open world, other players can be seen riding around the world, and players can friend people they meet in the world, as well as group up with their own friends to take on the republic as a group.
There’s all manner of locations, and much like the real world, there are biomes in the republic for all sports. Players are going to be able to take on the many challenges and races by traveling to the real world up to where the races start. With six different types of sports to partake in, each one has its own section on the map. The left, as well as the uppermost heights of the map is where the snow sports will take place. Players will be able to jump on skis or a snowboard and take to the slopes. The game also gives the player’s a snowmobile, so they will have an easier time getting up the mountain. There’s also a ski resort in the Republic, with lifts the player can use to teleport to the top of the slopes. The resort has a lot of ramps and rails for those who are looking to nail some gnarly tricks. For those who are looking for a race or wanting to go as fast as possible down the slopes, higher up the mountain is the trails for skiing and snowboarding.
Moving to the middle of the map is the woodlands area. This part of the map is made for downhill mountain biking, but there’s also all manner of ramps for those who are trying to nail some sick tricks with the BMX bikes. As the player goes lower down the map, and also to the right, the map turns from lush forests to canyons, where biking is still king, but the final two sets of sports are going to be: wing suiting, and rocket winging. While wing suiting is something that is very common in the world of base jumping, rocket winging sounds like something invented by the people at Ubisoft, but it’s actually something that’s very real. The rocket wing seen in the game is exactly the same as the ones being made in real life. Invented by Swiss Air Force pilot Yves Rossy, they’re only flown by trained professionals, and not something the average person can do. However, while it may seem farfetched, the Jetman Group, a company who previously worked with Rossy to perfect the concept of the rocket wing, have successfully taken off from the ground with the rocket wing, although it’s much slower than in the game.
However, these aren’t the only modes of transportation that players can use. Much like the snowmobile, there are also some other vehicles players can use in the game, courtesy of the Shackdaddy Bandits. These adrenaline junkies are a group in the game who get their thrills from some odd choices of transportation. For example, one of the missions requires that players jump onto wooden skis, and hit the slopes in a trick race, whoever finished first, and lands the most tricks wins. Another one sees players take on a race riding a delivery bike complete with a hotbox for pizzas. There are other challenges included in the game, and players will have all the time they want to take them on. Some of these vehicles will also be available in the open world as well, giving player’s a chance to use their unorthodox rides into the republic outside of the missions.
There are multiple types of races and challenges in the republic, and players can choose which one to tackle first. For the Bike Riding challenges, there are the downhill races, and the trick challenges. The snow sports also include both modes as well. For the air racing, players are going to be able to race with either the wingsuits, or the rocket wings. However, this isn’t the only thing that players can do in the republic. Hidden around the map are a plethora of stunts that players can take on. While they’re not part of the main career mode, they’re very hard challenges that players can complete for rewards.
All of these tools can be switched between one another on a whim in the open world. This can lead into some insane feats of racing, where players can take to the slopes, jump off of a cliff, switch into the wingsuit for some high-octane air racing, then jump back on a bike midair to complete an adrenaline-pumping triathlon. This is the concept for Riders Republic’s biggest selling point: Mass Races.
These races will put 30 players to the test as they complete three distinct races. Players will be thrown into a race with three phases. Each phase will put the player on a different vehicle, such as starting with a bike, then to rocket wings, and finally finishing with the skis for example.
However, winning isn’t everything. Players will also have to perform tricks during the race, to collect stars, and earn points based on their performance. These are then tallied up at the end of the three races to determine the winner of the race.
Players will have to wait for the chance to partake in a Mass Race, though this might be a good thing for players who worry about matchmaking. Mass Races are frequent, but they’re not always available, so it’s easier to get a handful of players together into the race without having to worry about the race not having enough players.
Going back to the open world, it does function similarly to the rest of Ubisoft’s open-world titles. Players will be able to open parts of the map by exploring, which can be streamlined in the game by leveling up enough to pick up the rocket wings. Since the wings have infinite fuel, players will be able to fly around the world to their heart’s content without having to worry about falling out of the sky. However, inside the open world, there are picture markers, where players can unlock fast travel points by visiting them a la Assassin’s Creed. They’ll also be able to find the hidden stunt challenges by riding around on the ground.
On top of this, completing normal races and challenges will open up new races and challenges, ending in what the game calls Boss Events. In this big race, players will have to compete in and win if they want to unlock harder challenges in the future. Completing them will also award players with more XP, stars, and bucks. The races include real extreme sports sponsors like Red Bull, X Games, and more.
Leveling up in specific events will net the player better gear to use in other events as they continue to race, which will increase the score that the player has when they’re participating. This will net the player more bikes, boards, skiis, and more. On top of this, players will also get bucks. While they’re handed out liberally, the bucks can be used to purchase cosmetics in the game for players to add onto their character. They can also customize their outfits for each of the events they’re able to partake in. One outfit I purchased cost 30,000 bucks. On top of this, there are only some cosmetics that can be unlocked via their premium currency, which cannot be earned without spending some real money in the game. This isn’t surprising considering that Ubisoft is focusing on other forms of monetization with their aim to make fewer AAA titles and focus on free-to-play games.
On top of this, there’s also the inclusion of sponsors. After completing some boss events the player will be able to start getting sponsorships from companies in the republic. Choosing their sponsors will allow them to unlock more gear to use, branded after the companies who have decided to latch onto the player.
On top of all of this, there’s also one other mode in the game that wasn’t fully touched on, but was mentioned in the tutorial: the creator mode. Players who ride on a trail in the open world for more than 30 seconds without crashing will be able to use that section of the map in a creative mode for the game. Players will be able to then plan their own races, and upload them onto the internet, where other players can use their races. The republic will also pick some of their favorites to show to the rest of the player base every so often when the game launches.
There’re a few issues I have with the gameplay of the title, the biggest of which is with the matchmaking. When playing the title, it doesn’t say whether or not the player is going against real people in the game. There’s the option to play solo, or versus. However, when playing solo, the game launches immediately without matchmaking. This leaves me under the impression that the other players I’m fighting against aren’t there, and I’m possibly racing their ghosts, or I’m racing against computers who are named after players.
This feeling makes the game feel lonely, as I’m not playing against real people. However, the game doesn’t outright explain the versus option when picking a race, which leads me to the conclusion that the versus mode isn’t going to give me the rewards for the career mode. I’m instinctively going to choose solo mode so that I can receive the proper rewards and progression for the career, since I’m under a time limit of four hours.
Moving into the open world, players are all around, riding to their hearts content. It shows on the map that players from all parts of the game world are traveling around. However, I don’t feel like they’re real. Driving into people doesn’t do anything, they don’t bump, I don’t fall over, nothing happens, players will phase through me. Also, nobody stopped, or interacted with one another during my playthrough. The only time I’ve felt like I was interacting with people is when myself and other players were queued up for a mass race, where players were falling onto the floor doing half flips.
However, in the open world, the other players riding around the republic felt less like players, and more like a set dressing for an open-world title. I didn’t get the change to play the game with friends, but the conclusion I came to while I played my four hours of the title is that while the game is populated, it felt empty in a sense, aside from the mass races, where players can collide with one another.
Another issue I found with the game is that sometimes hitting a jump wrong or landing at just the wrong angle will send the player into the sky. This also happened while riding and not doing tricks. Having an issue like this happen once is one thing, but having it happen multiple times was enough for me to mention it here.
With all the gameplay variety and options out of the way, how does the game work? For those playing on PC, you’re going to want to use a controller. I used my PS5 DualSense to help me tackle the slopes in full fashion. The game recommends that players use a controller as well. PC players should play the game with a controller.
There are multiple control modes for the game. There’s the racer mode, the trickster mode, and the Steep mode.
Racer mode is the default control scheme the game puts in place for players who are wanting to race. This control scheme gives players free reign of the camera on the right stick, and asks the player to use the buttons for flips and tricks.
Then, there’s the trickster mode. Players who are more into landing some sick tricks are going to be able to do so with the right stick. The trade-off is not being able to use the camera. The buttons don’t do anything in this mode, which makes them useless.
The final control mode is the same controls used in Steep. The developers of Steep are the same minds behind Riders Republic, which makes sense, seeing that this game is the successor to the game. Players can opt to use the controls from that game.
There are also some other options that can be turned on and off in the game. The biggest one that I changed while playing was the option to turn off auto-landing. When playing the game with the default settings, after completing a flip or a trick, letting go of the button will have the character automatically rotate to attempt a land. Turning this off, however, means that the player has to line up their bike, board, skis, etc. to the slope of the jump before they land. While it makes landing tricks harder, this will actually net the player extra points based on how perfect the landing is. Chaining perfect landings together will increase the amount of points a player gets while they’re riding, which can be useful for trick events.
However, there’s one massive issue I have with this manual landing. During my time with the title, I found myself being able to only correct in one direction. There are two flip buttons, one for a front flip, and one for a backflip. Depending on which one is being used, the player can perform either. However, when players are in the middle of a front flip, hitting the backflip button will only continue the current trick, rather than getting the character to move the other way. This means that for players to perform the perfect landing if they overshoot they’re out of luck.
I don’t know if this is going to get fixed, or if I’m playing the game incorrectly, but this was one of the biggest issues which ruined some of my best moments in the title.
For the performance of the title, there weren’t a lot of issues with it. The game ran perfectly fine on my PC, which houses a Ryzen 3600, RTX 2060 Super, and 32 Gigabytes of RAM. While I did run into some slight hitching issues with the game, they weren’t enough to ruin the experience, and were only found when switching between menus in the game.
The audio in the game is fantastic. The sounds of Riders Republic are as natural as possible. All boss events have commentators talking through the event. The music is the same type of music players would find in the arcade extreme sports titles as well. Some music is even changed based on the event. A particular Shackdaddy Bandits event has players donning old-timey skis to take on the slopes. This changes the game’s filter to be a black and white filter, and appropriate music is played in the background to fill out the feel of racing like it’s 1945.
The sounds for gaining points is also very satisfying, and I actually spent around 20 minutes of my playtime trying to use the wingsuit to rack up an insane score riding down the mountain. The game gives players a score based on how close they are to the ground in the wingsuit, and this score will climb up the more time the player spends close to crashing. Doing this all the way down the mountain, the increasing ticking sound was so satisfying. I eventually scores 200,000 points doing this alone, and by the time I was done, I could barely hear the sound as it was pitched up so high.
The visuals of the game aren’t anything special. This game goes for a realistic look, but being that it’s not a mainline Ubisoft title, it doesn’t look next-gen. The game looks more in line with something from the early days of the PS4. While that doesn’t ruin the fun when it comes to blistering speeds down a mountain on a bicycle, it’s not the best-looking game on the planet. I did run the game at the highest settings.
Being that the game is still in the trial phase, and hasn’t come out yet, the game doesn’t have a full-on community just yet. Players are going to be hard-pressed to find a group of people who are going to want to play this game, seeing that it hasn’t come out.
However, the game’s community is most likely going to open with more players coming in from the Steep community, and players will soon find themselves enveloped with gamers who want to join in on the fun and play with their friends.
I do highly recommend that players do play this game with friends. Playing it solo was fun, but there’s not enough to keep a single player satiated by themselves, some games are just more fun with friends.
It’s a fine game to pick up, especially for those who are itching for an extreme sports title with a lot of versatility, this is going to be the game for you. However, for those who are still on the fence, waiting on the game might be the best option. Riders Republic is going to be sold for $60. Unfortunately, players who are loyal to the Steam platform aren’t going to be able to purchase it there. Riders Republic is only available on the Epic Games Store and downloading the title will also require that player’s install Ubisoft Connect as well to play the game.