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Riders Republic review: A renaissance for extreme sports games

By October 30, 2021November 29th, 2021Sports games

Riders Republic: Specifications

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Amazon Luna, Stadia, Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S
Price: $ 60
Release date: 28 October 2021
Kind: Sports action / simulation

Riders Republic is a new entry in the extreme sports genre of video games. Once a dominant force in the gaming landscape, the genre has been largely overlooked over the past decade as a glut of online shooters and open-world action games flooded the market.

In that regard, Riders Republic looks like a welcome throwback. This is the type of game one would have expected to see on PS2. However, it contains more than enough modern gaming sensibilities to play like a current generation title.

The game is a spiritual sequel to Ubisoft’s 2016 snowboarding title Steep, and it takes its predecessor’s formula and works with it. Riders Republic adds more than extra things to do, but a welcome level of customization that’s almost unmatched in the genre.

There are a few flaws, most of which only become apparent as you play, but even when the grind borders on the tedious Riders Republic continues to woo you as it nails the core fundamentals. Read on for our full Riders Republic review.

Riders Republic Review: Gameplay

Variety is the name of the game in Riders Republic. While most games in the genre focus on a single extreme sport, Riders Republic gives you the option of mountain biking, snowboarding, skis, wingsuits, and even rocket-powered jetpacks.

A chaotic skydiving scene from Riders Republic

(Image credit: Ubisoft Annecy)

Bikes are definitely the most fun option available to you. There is something to hawk furiously down a dusty track picking up enough speed to overtake a car that never gets old. The default controls are also remarkably easy to pick up, within minutes you’ll be drifting through tight turns and performing double backflips.

Riders Republic bike game

(Image credit: Ubisoft Annecy)

The use of a snowboard or a pair of skis is naturally similar. These transport methods are mainly useful when you want to perform over the top tricks and grinds. Carving in powder snow is fun, but you don’t feel as vulnerable traveling at breakneck speeds as you do on a bicycle frame, which makes snow sports a lot less exciting.

Riders Republic ski

(Image credit: Ubisoft Annecy)

Wingsuits ignore the laws of physics for the sake of fun. By holding down a button, you can essentially stop and restart your swing. This makes wingsuits extremely arcaded and often behaves in annoying and unpredictable ways. Rocket-powered wingsuits don’t have the same problem but are rather boring to control. Boredom is not something you should experience when using a jetpack.

At any time, you can instantly switch to first person mode with the push of a button. While you’ll likely choose to play the majority of Riders Republic in third person, first person is a fun new addition. Hopping a bunny off a cliff on a BMX and rolling down the almost steep slope in first person is extremely exhilarating and might tie your stomach.

Riders Republic deserves credit for customizing their controls. Initially, you choose between two control schemes: racer and trickster. There’s also a preset that mimics Steep’s layout. You can further fine-tune settings such as how much help the game gives you when landing tricks or whether you want to hook onto the grind rails automatically.

Snowboarding at Riders Republic

(Image credit: Ubisoft Annecy)

These settings can be quickly adjusted in the menus if you find things too difficult or too easy. I started with the game by automatically adjusting my landings to avoid frequent bailouts, but after a few hours I was confident enough to control things manually. This feeling of progress was extremely gratifying.

Riders Republic Review: Career Mode

Riders Republic immerses you in a huge open world that brings together seven real American national parks, including Bryce Canyon, Yosemite Valley, and Zion. In just a few hours of play, your world map will be dotted with dozens of points of interest, events, and collectibles.

Mountain bike at Riders Republic

(Image credit: Ubisoft Annecy)

Before you can start exploring, you’re forced to complete the game’s frustrating and restrictive tutorial. Luckily, it only takes about an hour to complete, but it feels endless. It walks you through the basics, but you’re on an extremely tight leash. Please do not judge Riders Republic by their opening time.

The game’s career mode features five different courses: bike racing, bike tours, snow racing, snow tours and aerial events. They’re all pretty self-explanatory, and as you progress through each you’ll unlock “Big Events” that will really challenge you to prove your skill in each discipline.

Riders Republic ski game

(Image credit: Ubisoft Annecy)

The problem is, career events are extremely repetitive. Take the snow trick career, for example, each event is just another course for you to grabs, grinds and flips in the hope of getting a high score. Fortunately, you can switch between career modes at will, which increases some of the repetition. I have made a policy of never doing more than two events in the same career path consecutively to avoid burnout.

Fortunately, it’s not all races and trick events. There are side events outside of career paths that have more wacky goals. One asks you to deliver pizza within a time limit, while another straps you to a rocket-powered bicycle. These challenges are a real highlight, and I wish there were more to mix things up between the guts of the same competitions.

Progressing in Riders Republic is mostly about collecting stars, which you’ll earn for just about everything. While the stars may be awarded a little too often, you never have to complete activities that you don’t enjoy. Instead, you can choose what to focus on.

A chaotic scene from Riders Republic

(Image credit: Ubisoft Annecy)

If you’re bored of career mode, you’re free to scour the world aimlessly for hidden collectibles or special relics, which unlock novelty vehicles like a surfboard. There’s even a Zen mode that drops you on the map without any lens and lets you travel the world admiring the (often beautiful) sights.

Riders Republic Review: Online Modes

Riders Republic is a very socially connected game. There are a multitude of ways to play with and against other players. The best of these are the much vaunted mass races.

These chaotic online events pit up to 64 players against each other in a single race. The results are utter carnage as you bump into each other and scramble for a podium spot. Ultra-competitive gamers may find them frustrating, but if you’re up for playing for fun, you’ll find them fun.

A chaotic scene from Riders Republic

(Image credit: Ubisoft Annecy)

It’s quite baffling that you can’t play mass races whenever you want. You have to wait for the game to initiate a call telling you that the game is about to start. This happens frequently enough that you don’t have to wait long, but why you can’t just do on-demand matchmaking is a real mystery.

Another nice multiplayer mode is Trick Battle. This team mode requires you to perform tricks on specific objects in order to gain control and score points. It’s a lot more fun than a standard trick competition, but there isn’t a lot of variety in the mode.

As you might expect, you can also participate in standard races and online tricks events, and you can travel the world with friends if you start to feel a bit lonely in the republic.

Riders Republic: visuals and sound

I played Riders Republic on PS5 and found its huge open world a real sight to see. It is an extremely geographically diverse place, offering everything from snow-capped peaks to desert canyons. You’ll often be driving too fast to take in the views, but when you stop for a moment, the beautiful scenery is sure to grab your attention.

A chaotic scene from Riders Republic

(Image credit: Ubisoft Annecy)

There are some clipping and animation issues that prevent the game from looking so good on the move. It’s not uncommon to get stuck on a large boulder or cluster of trees, but your unlimited use rewind ability can get you out of a traffic jam in the blink of an eye – although I had to start some over again. races because my competition had already exceeded the limits. the moment I took off.

Unfortunately, Riders Republic is not that easy on the ears. Every now and then, you’ll be forced to suffer through the NPC’s gnash-inducing dialogue that would have been stale even in the early 2000s. There’s also a custom soundtrack filled with licensed songs, but Riders Republic is the best for listening to your own music. I spend a lot of my time playing muted and a favorite podcast, which I found far better.

Riders Republic Review: Verdict

Riders Republic’s combination of a massive open world you can explore at will and a wide variety of gameplay is compelling. Career mode can get a bit repetitive as you level up, but the game never punishes you for shifting gears and doing something else when boredom sets in.

Developer Ubisoft Annecy has confirmed that more content is on the way, and with such a promising foundation already in place, Riders Republic could fit into something really special. They don’t really make games like Riders Republic anymore, but I’m glad Ubisoft did.