Edge

What Is ‘Riders Republic’? We Played It Early To Find Out

A genre that has been missing from the video game world for years now is extreme sports — skateboarding, snowboarding, essentially anything that you would find at the X Games. It wasn’t that long ago that we were getting a yearly Tony Hawk game, SSX Tricky, and a variety of BMX games. However, as video games became more expensive, many of these fell to the wayside in favor of more dependable genres like shooters and traditional sports games. Thankfully, we may finally be seeing a resurgence in the genre: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 was fantastic, Skate is coming back, and the recent E3 gave a lot of love to snowboarding.

One game that is coming out soon will try to combine all of these genres into one big experience. Riders Republic, currently in development at Ubisoft, is going to be a game where players can bike, snowboard, ski, and fly to their heart’s content in a world that was designed for them. We recently got our hands on Riders Republic and played an early demo build of the game. After spending about four hours with the game, this is what we can say so far.

The World Is Great

Riders Republic/Ubisoft

When first launching into Riders Republic, the player will be given a quick hands-on experience with a few of the game’s different modes. This is not only to introduce the player to the controls, but it will also allow them to get a firsthand look at what kind of world they’re in. The world of Riders Republic is one where extreme sports are above all else — everything is a playground designed for bikers, snowboarders, etc. Races can happen anywhere, everything can be launched off of the air, and there are TV cameras everywhere to capture it. Basically, imagine if there was a reality TV show about extreme sports but anyone who wanted could go participate.

The world itself is wide open with many different terrains. There’s plenty to do and see, which is a big part of the fun. While waiting around for events to start, it was hard to pass up on the chance to just go bike off into a random pathway and see what was out there. Maybe you’ll even run into other players, or the ghosts of other players, all doing the exact same thing.

Multiplayer Has Potential

Riders Republic/Ubisoft

The multiplayer aspect of Riders Republic has a lot of potential. Players can go do missions or courses together as a group, compete against one another, race each other, or just explore the world. Despite being paired with five other randoms in a play session, it was easy to tell that playing with a group of friends is going to be the best way to enjoy Riders Republic. Of course, for anyone who wants to go about it solo, there is still plenty to do and the world will constantly feel lived in. Players are spread out all over the map, and when there isn’t enough for a server, the game will fill the world with “ghosts.” These ghosts aren’t just AI, they’re recreations of what actual players did in their own play-throughs. This way, when you’re exploring a snow slope, there will always be people around.

Anyone that wants to race or compete against real players will have plenty of options. Events are spread out all over the map. Go up to one, select it, and the player will be queued into the event. Competing in them is encouraged because it will increase your star rating, which means you’ll gain access to more gear and items, so there’s always an incentive to keep trying out new modes. These collectible items are also fun because it shows that the developers understand how silly this world is. When you have the ability to get a squirrel suit with a jetpack, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t also be allowed to have an ice cream bike.

The Tricks Are A Little Awkward

Riders Republic/Ubisoft

The build we played was not final, so everything we did can be improved upon or tweaked before launch. That said, some of the tricks felt a little awkward at times. There’s a very cool system where the player can turn on auto-land, which makes landing tricks easier, but players who can land perfectly without that will gain extra points. Sometimes, everything clicks and you’ll get off a sick frontflip onto a rail before completing the combo with a 180 perfect landing. Those moments feel great, but to create a system like this, movement has to be very precise and they may have corrected for that a little too much. A right turn can go 90 degrees almost instantly sometimes, which can be disorienting, and grinds feel like you’re floating above the railing instead of pushing on it.

A lot of what will separate Riders Republic from a fun game to play for a single weekend, only to never play it again, will be the movement. Extreme sports games are entirely reliant on feeling good when moving around. The snowboarding needs to feel just right, the bike has to be perfect, and the flying suit can’t feel slow. If the game isn’t absolutely perfect, then it will not capture people the way the Tony Hawk or SSX Tricky series ever did. However, if everything about this game feels good, then it has the potential to be something big.

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