Some of the American continent's most prestigious landscapes lay before us, and it is our mission to explore, race, jump and perform absurd tricks over them. Is this a job you are willing to take on?
Ever heard of Ubisoft’s Riders Republic? Of course you have! This game has been marketed to high heaven, and for good reason! A first-person extreme sports video game, Riders Republic sees release to PlayStation and Xbox consoles on the 28th of October. But don’t get it twisted, the release date is totally separate from Halloween celebrations, the only spooky thing about this game is the amount of airtime you are sure to achieve.
What is Riders Republic? I haven't heard of it before.
I know we evolved as upright, walking bipedals, but walking can be a bit boring, can’t it? And why walk when you can fly? Though the cover of Riders Republic is merely a snowboarder and a downhill cyclist, the game itself features five extreme sports to be revelled in: biking, skiing, SSX-style snowboarding, wingsuit flying and rocket wingsuiting - all in 4K and 60FPS. And yes, you read that right – rocket wingsuiting is one of the sports featured within. We are given all the tools we will ever need, using any means necessary to traverse the vast open world the game employs. Riders Republic places competitors in locations inspired by various North American landmarks: Bryce Canyon, Yosemite Valley, Sequoia Park and Grand Teton among them, but you don’t just stop and appreciate the sights, these landmarks are now your playground to do with what you please until the cow’s come home.
'Riders Republic places competitors in locations inspired by various North American landmarks: Bryce Canyon, Yosemite Valley, Sequoia Park and Grand Teton among them.'
The Forza Crossover
The best way to describe Riders Republic is this: imagine daring sports in a Forza Horizon styled game. We travel around the game’s world often using the most reckless and speedy way possible, engaging in races whenever we feel like it. More, we share our surroundings in a multiplayer extravaganza, joining up to 64 players on next-gen consoles, and the game also revolves around a competitive festival (like Horizon) called the XGames. There are also notable landmarks and obtainable relics to be found whilst moseying (or not) around the map, rewarding free roaming with performance perks. The game doesn’t look or play like Forza Horizon titles, but it sure sounds similar in concept, doesn’t it?
What does gameplay entail?
We take on Riders Republic in first person bar when we perform some sick tricks and gain gnarly airtime – we experience that in third person so we can appreciate the heights of our skills. Game physics feel genuine – we will get wasted if we mistime moves and tricks; I tried to land a hefty jump on my back wheel and failed miserably, ending up a mountain ragdoll. The playable map is as picturesque as it is large, and we have no shortage of ways to negotiate it. I was particularly taken aback by the airborne sports, wingsuiting and rocket wingsuiting, as many a game aren’t as confident enough to stick a jet engine on the back of our characters – but Riders Republic gives no consideration to status quos and stays true to its vision, and out of the box is where the fresh air is. Jetting around the arena, over mountains and bobbing through forests, and partaking in races are certainly sweaty palm experiences; Riders Republic moves at a million miles an hour and shows no signs of slowing down, serving to satisfy the senses of the adrenaline addicts among us.
Can we just explore alone?
Perhaps it is a hint of introversion that causes the Free Roam element of the game to be so enjoyable for me, but zooming down mountain sides, across rivers and bunny-hopping over canyons would surely appeal to anyone? Performing some tres bien tricks kept me entertained for hours and I think it is here where Riders Republic comes into its own; it reaches out to that innate curiosity regarding ‘what if?’ and allows you to find out from the safety of your sofa. There has never been an easier way of depleting our risk-searching energy than bombing at 100km/h down an icy slope whilst seamlessly switching (even in mid-air) between rocket, wingsuit, skis, bike, or snowboard. Ironically, taking your time to explore the map is somewhat relaxing – you are in amidst nature after all - and every element of the game click into place as they should.
'There has never been an easier way of depleting our risk-searching energy than bombing at 100km/h down an icy slope whilst seamlessly switching (even in mid-air) between rocket, wingsuit, skis, bike, or snowboard.'
What other gaming modes are there?
Racing is by nature a thrilling venture, but partner that with perilous stunts and ever-changing modes of transport, jumping from skis to bikes in a split second, and you end up with a formula for transfixion - you just can’t take your eyes off the ball for one second. In these mass races we must contend with the anarchic massacre of players swarming around us a they too try to stay on the piste to avoid meeting an early demise. Weaving between human, tree and rock alike is taxing business, trust me. However, you can just choose to jump into Riders Republic impromptu and get going, ending up wherever your intuition takes you, or you can opt to invest in a longer-term endeavour in career mode. The details on the game’s career mode are so far slightly foggy, but we do know that we are tasked to opt for one sport and evolve from prodigy to legend within said sport. Or, if more immediate rewards are more up your street, you can enter the Tricks Battle Arena and get your hands dirty using the 72 trick portfolio Riders Republic has to offer.
There is an apt comparison to made between another Ubisoft Annecy production, Steep, and Riders Republic, only the latter is Steep on steroids. I mean, what other game allows you to attach rocket to your skis and bomb down a mountain? Or jetpack in Iron Man style through some of the world’s most sacred nature sites? Gameplay is certainly accessible in that anyone can play and have fun here, but the most challenging element of gameplay for me involved wiping my wide grin off my face. If you didn’t get round to getting stuck into the Beta version of the game, which was one of the most insane sporting games I have yet played, you need wait another week or so until October the 28th. If COVID had you go without your fix of outdoor adventuring and hairy sports, Riders Republic is the shoulder you can rest (or fly and do backflips) on.