Riders Republic might have its work cut out for it releasing alongside a slew of some big game releases this season, but there’s one thing for certain: there’s nothing else quite like this socially integrated action sports title. We went hand-on with the Rider Republic beta to test our mettle in Ubisoft’s upcoming release.
For the uninitiated, Riders Republic is an extreme sports bonanza, of sorts, blending the disciplines of bikes, snowboarding, skiing, and wingsuits all into one frantic downhill race. However, the game also injects a serious dose of social mechanics into the genre. It’s hard not to think of old extreme sports games in years gone by, such as Sled Storm or the underappreciated gem 3Xtreme (seriously, check it out), but Riders Republic is bringing its own flair to the genre.
Admittedly, that ‘vibe’ is quite a lot to take in, though. The game features some cues from Far Cry New Dawn‘s neon-splattered aesthetic, with some pretty zany outfits and an insanely colourful HUD. The game is trying very hard to be edgy, but there’s a self-awareness about it, which is enjoyable. However, all of that is juxtaposed with some true-to-form authenticity in terms of licensed gear, real-world events, and riding and performance strategies, so while the game is making its best effort to be ‘cool’, it has the credentials to back it up.
Now, while snowboarding next to a biker might seem bizarre, how exactly these various disciplines work alongside one another is down to the seamless integration that Ubisoft Annecy has implemented by creating dynamic terrain across the dirt, snow, and forest terrains and environments, which are recreated after some of the most popular National Parks in the United States. You can essentially flip between boards, bikes, skis, or wingsuit on the fly, and you’re not restrained to one sport or another during any particular race (barring some competitions), so it’s more about having the best loadout for all the disciplines, but of course, this can vary depending on your playstyle.
You can use a bike on deep-powder, for example, which may not be the best idea, but there may be a way to use that to your advantage too, so it allows players to get creative. Therefore, Riders Republic is not necessarily about picking the best gear, but rather how you use it, and this comes through in the gameplay.
Whether you’re riding, flying, or sliding, the moment-to-moment gameplay in Riders Republic feels like you’re fighting your way down these gloriously detailed mountain ranges. The terrain plays a huge role, and is almost an additional character itself; and whether you’re avoiding dips and bumps or dodging cliffs and trees, you won’t simply be holding down the ‘go’ button — there’s a lot of manoeuvring and work to be done in order to take the crown.
When you’re not ploughing into trees or rocks, what Riders Republic does extremely well is capturing that sense of adrenaline. The visual effects and draw distance allows you to put into perspective how steep of a hill you’re descending and how quickly, which does sound like a simple sensation to convey, but Riders Republic nails the look and feel of the experience.
It isn’t just a straight race to the bottom though, as there is a whole trick component to Riders Republic too. The trick system is really intuitive and easy-to-use to, allowing you to pull off some glorious moves with ease. Furthermore, players can also select the level of assistance they want, so if you want a bit of help with your landing, grinding, or tricks, so that you can trigger stylish tricks with ease, you can do that. Of course, more technical players can opt for no assistance which will really put their abilities to the test to pull off amazing tricks. This came into play particularly in the trick competitions, which sees you and a team battle another team for domination in a Graffiti style tournament to see who can ‘tag’ each ramp or rail with the highest-scoring trick.
In terms of the actual races, you pick up challenges from the main social hub, which is essentially a camp on the admittedly massive map (and you can fast travel to at any time). Here, you can sign up for competitions, take on challenges, or find information on the next live event (which take place every 15 minutes, and throw together 50 players into one massive race). There’s clearly no shortage of content and races in Riders Republic, and it’ll be interesting to see how Ubisoft evolves this post-launch.
For a beta, Riders Republic looks extremely confident in what it is and what it wants to do. It’s definitely taken some advice from previous Ubisoft games of this nature (The Crew, Steep, and the likes) and produced something that cuts the fat and is a lot more easily accessible. We’re excited to dive into some more Riders Republic in the hopes it’s not a wipeout before the finish line.
Riders Republic launches on Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, PS4, PS5, Stadia, and PC on 28 October 2021.