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access_time October 29, 2021 at 6:56 PM in Reviews by Paul Jennette

Review | Riders Republic

When I was a kid, I had a really strong obsession with action sports. Watching athletes engage in death-defying stunts for gold always took my breath way. I would watch the X-Games every year on ESPN, I owned every SSX and Tony Hawk’s title available on PlayStation 2. It had been a really long time since I’d seen an extreme sports game that really appealed to the extreme sports fan in me. Fortunately, Ubisoft has come along with something that I can only call incredible. This game was on my radar back when it was first announced, so I was disappointed when it was delayed from its February release to this Fall. I remained hopeful nonetheless. I’m happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed. The developers at Ubisoft have really captured lightening in a bottle with Riders Republic, truly a love letter to adrenaline and all things extreme.

Riders Republic throws you head first into the world of BMX, bike racing, wing suit gliding, freestyle skiing and snowboarding. Your goal is to participate and win as many races and trick events as possible in an effort to gain sponsors, unlock gear, and obtain invites to bigger and better races. You’re given immediate access to a giant open-world map composed of seven regions based on real life national parks. It’s complete with steep hills, mountains, ramps, rails, everything you’d expect from extreme sports obstacles. Events usually challenge you to race against other players, beat another players best time or high trick score. You can also compete head-to-head with friends in events, as well as create your own in the game’s own creative mode.

At its core, what makes this title so rewarding is the control scheme and physics engine built around these environments and how they compliment each other. Each sport feels unique and provides a different experience. There are three control schemes; Racer, Trickster, and Steep. Steep mode is based on Ubisoft’s 2016 title Steep and utilizes classic controls from the game. A good example of how the different styles of sports feel is how BMX bikes are lighter and a lot easy to flip than mountain bikes. While it’s possible to flip a mountain bike, it’s much harder to accomplish. Skiing is by far my favorite, though. It provides the most movement and freedom. I love doing tricks, and doing nothing compares to doing double backflips on skis while going 70mph.

The sense of progression in Riders Republic is really player friendly. You progress and unlock new gear for every new race or trick event you place in. There are four difficulty settings for each event, so it’s difficult to stick to one event. I found myself playing on pro, the second hardest difficulty. I found the Expert and Elite difficulties to be punishingly hard, but I plan on coming back to them after more experience. You can spend real world cash on in-game currency if you’d like. However, the game never sticks it in your face or is ever predatory about getting you to buy it. All micro transactions are cosmetic. No pay-to-win scenarios here. Every bike or board upgrade is earned through winning, and I absolutely love that.

My biggest gripe with Riders Republic isn’t really a big one at all. The game’s verbal presentation is predictable and arguably cringe inducing. Stereotypical exclamations of ‘gnarly’ and ‘sick’ to describe everything in the game made things a little hard to digest at first. The voice acting is performed well with enough enthusiasm but the over-the-top skater lingo really got to me after a while. I found myself muting the dialogue entirely after about half-an-hour.

The visuals in Riders Republic are really something to behold. The textures and lighting are some of the best I’ve seen in a sports game to date. I wasn’t really expecting the game to be so striking in terms of environments. Eventually, I found it hard to focus on getting to the next objective because I just got lost biking or skiing around and staring. There is definitely some real love and care put into these locations.

The game features a great dynamic weather system that terrain and vehicles accurately react to. When it rains your bike ride will far be more slippery. The teams at Ubisoft used new GPS technology to accurately replicate these locations, and it really shows. The water textures in Riders are some of the best I’ve seen in any video game to date, and I’m not exaggerating. Riders Republic is definitely the best looking MMO I’ve seen this year.

What I love about Riders Republic is the freedom it provides alongside its primary games as a service model. It invites you to simply explore its vast open world and really take in the beautiful atmosphere of the game. This is where Zen mode comes in. Zen mode allows you to explore the open world without invitations to challenges or other players getting in your way. I I found it really refreshing to be able to ski down a mountain at top speed while trying insane tricks with no penalties for falling. The only small downside to Zen mode is that you can’t progress any further or unlock anything while in it. It’s a small price to pay for the absolute freedom it provides.

Riders Republic at first glance seems like something that’s too good to be true. An action sports game with real attention to detail that showcases the true, adrenaline filled spirit of the sports it features. This game is insane, competitive, fun, that’s about as simply as I can put it. I think everyone should play Riders Republic at least once. Ubisoft has truly struck gold here and I’m even more excited about future content updates. The sky is really the limit.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

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