Riders Republic is the latest extreme sports game from Ubisoft which takes players to the edge and throws them off with all manner of equipment in a high-speed descent to victory. Riders Republic is the successor to the previously released Steep and it takes players into a massive multiplayer playground where extreme sports mix together in a massive world of adrenaline fuelled mayhem. So, should you take the leap?
From the start of Riders Republic, it is clear why the player is there, and the premise is simple. The player takes on the role of a potential extreme sports prodigy and must prove themselves within the playgrounds of the open world to make it to the pinnacle and become number one. The ever-expanding open world is made up of many single and multi-discipline events across different methods of traversal using bikes, skis, snowboards, wing suits and more. The completion of each event provides the player with experience within that discipline, which leads to unlocking more events, providing the player with an ever-expanding world to explore.
The game begins with a tutorial that leads the player to Riders Ridge, the hub world of the game where the player can deck out their character in their favourite gear, find multiplayer challenges, track their sponsors and challenges, casually kick around with other players and more. The journey starts here and the player will find themselves popping past regularly as this hub world works as a central point, providing the player with everything they need. From here it is up to the player on how they get to their next adventure and though the player can casually venture through the countryside, if scenery is not your thing there is a fast travel option available.
If the player enjoys the journey, each and every vehicle is at their disposal including bikes, skis, snowboards, snow mobiles, wing suits and more, giving the player freedom of choice on how to travel to their destination. That destination can be one of many extreme activities that are progressively unlocked throughout the single player adventures within the world of Riders Republic. These story-based adventures can be played solo (against other random player ghosts) or with a group of friends and include individual discipline and multi-disciplinary based events across the shared open-world. With every completion of an event, players are rewarded experience within that discipline and the accumulation of experience leads to leveling up which in turn opens a number of new and wonderful events within that discipline to compete in until you progress to one of the Red Bull main events. Leveling up also unlocks a large range of cosmetics and equipment throughout the game.
Prior to competing in each of the solo events the player can customize the difficulty of the player ghosts as well as how much control they wish to have in regard to the landing of tricks. The harder the difficulty, the greater the rewards.
On top of venturing into the open world to compete in events and progress to the larger Red Bull sponsored events, players can jump into the hub world and partake in challenges in the multiplayer space. Riders Ridge offers players a few extra options in competitive racing to get the heart racing and they are:
- Mass Race – A three stage multi-discipline event that sees up to 64 players compete for victory. Each stage offers mid race transitions between methods of travel with proficiency in all the key to victory. Each round provides players with points based on their finishing position and the player with the most points at the end is the winner.
- Free for all multiplayer events – race in a selection of free-for-all based seasonal playlists that each have a seasonal ranking with rewards provided based on the end of season ranking.
- Trick battle – a 6v6 team-based multiplayer battle that sees players performing tricks to capture districts. Capture the zones to earn points and the team with the most points wins.
- Shackdaddy events – chaos and fun all rolled into one that presents an over-the-top challenge of a different kind.
The concern for the above multiplayer events is that they will rely on an ongoing active player-base to ensure all racers can get into these. This is where matchmaking for all events could provide a great option for longevity.
Outside of the events, the open-world also offers exploration points including landmarks, stunt tracks, hidden caches and more to give players another reason to head out and cut their own path through the world of Riders Republic. If scenery is the players thing, this game gives you a photo mode to help you enjoy it that little bit more.
Character controls is one thing many players of extreme sports games can find ‘overwhelming’ but Riders Republic handles this well. The game provides the player with three controller pre-sets based on how the player wants to control their tricks. These options cover the ABXY buttons for the Xbox, thumb sticks or the more traditional Steep controls using bumpers. The other aspects of control come with the vehicle transition as this can be done at any point within the game and can see you racing downhill on a bike, hitting a jump and then undertake a mid-air transition to a wing suit, then transitioning to a pair of snow skis just before you hit the ground. The D-Pad opens a gear wheel and makes the transition straight-forward and enjoyable.
The environment of this game looks great and is what you would expect of a game that has you flying down a mountainside towards victory. This game offers seven distinct regions based on national parks across the US that will have players enjoying the vast scenery from dusty deserts to snow covered peaks and anything in between. It also offers some beautiful landmarks and vistas for those players looking to discover more of the beauty that this world has on offer. The soundtrack also compliments the scenery and gameplay of Riders Republic and is tailored based on the event that the player is participating in, even to the point that in multi-mode events the soundtrack changes with the method of traversal. A nice little touch as the music changes pace with the event.
With all the good always comes the opportunity for improvement and there are a couple available this time around. Firstly, on occasions I have had the game freeze up to the point that the game had become unresponsive and required a console restart. Not too much of a problem as each time I was in the open-world and not mid-race at all. The other strife is the fact that I could not matchmake the individual events throughout the world with other random players, it’s either solo with ghosts or racing with a group of friends. The ghosts, while similar, don’t offer the player interaction that some players enjoy and while being grouped with players can have its downfalls, it is one social aspect of all games that many of us enjoy, and where some of us have formed lifelong friendships. It is something that this gamer would love to see added. With that said, the online co-operative aspect is a lot of fun, we just need more ways to do it.
This game is 100% family friendly, and my kids have often ventured into the campaign alternative, the “Zen mode”. Zen mode provides players the ability to enjoy the world of Riders Republic without the objectives and saw my kids take to the skies and the snow with ease. The only downside is that the kids can’t sit side-by-side to enjoy the world as there is no couch co-op option at all.