Platform(s): Xbox Series (version reviewed), PS5, PC
Genre: Extreme sports open-world game
Remember that open-world racing game Steep? Yeah, me neither. Riders Republic is basically the sequel of that “hidden gem” of a sandbox title, down to its extreme racing trials and challenges. Oh, and dirt/summer racing segments in the mix, making for the ultimate in an extreme sports video game package for all seasons. Literally.
And just like any surprise Ubisoft title that isn’t a Far Cry or Assassin’s Creed game, it’s pretty fun even with some of its quirks.
The basic premise of Riders Republic is this: win races, do a ton of tricks, earn stars for the next big and tough events and set of challenges using your custom avatar. All of this is done to earn more gear for racing and unlocking new racing and tricks-based challenge. It’s an easy goal with tons of ways to do it. You can’t specialize in one type of sport: you’ll have to play them all from snowboarding down a steep hill to downhill super-fast biking with tons of ledges for that precious airtime for tricks-performing. There are even halfpipe events where you’re given a limited amount of tricks to get the highest score possible.
Riders Republic nails the speed and extreme sports feel down pat; you’re not going to find a game with this level of polish and scale that makes you feel like you’re careening down a hillside just blazing through the competition, while jumping off a ledge to perform “monties”, backflips, front flips, or whatever it is young kids do nowadays.
The best part? The current-gen technology of gaming makes Riders Republic’s open-world jaunts a seamless experience. Want to go from one end of the snowy map to the rocky terrain all the way to the east? Fast travel takes you there quick. Or you can just switch to the jetpack and fly there. Yes, this is an extreme game where it felt appropriate to give its many contestants rocket packs and wingsuits to fly around the world. Don’t think too much about the real-world implications and insurance issues here; Riders Republic only cares about letting players have fun in these kinds of sports consequence-free. And it does this really well.
Of course, a game like Riders Republic lives and dies with its controls. I’m pretty half-and-half with Ubisoft’s execution with the controls. Yes, it’s great if you’re playing the earlier courses of the game where you’re freestyling and just racing downhill, or if you’re just aiming for the bare minimum of stars (the more you get, the more stages & sponsors you unlock). But as you get to the tougher stages and are aiming for a perfectionists’ run, the faults start to crop up: there’s actually a bit of a delay with the game’s inputs especially if you’re doing sharp turns and quick directional changes.
I understand that an online game of this magnitude needs to take into account the many players on the servers and take lag into account, and I commend Ubisoft for actually getting Riders Republic to a great and playable state. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the gimped controls and delays, not to mention the mass player exodus that can eff up your run anytime, can make your races feel like a game of chance that doesn’t put you in full control.
Speaking of online, I haven’t come across any huge online issues on my Xbox version of Riders Republic; there’s a graphical glitch or two that can only be cleared by quitting and restarting the game, but nothing completely game-breaking. However, I have heard of server disconnects for the PC (via Ubisoft Connect) and PS5 versions. Your mileage may vary, but just be prepared for the usual launch week kerfuffles if you’re planning on investing in this digital extreme endeavour.
The spiritual successor to Steep has a few kinks to work out, but by and large Riders Republic is a helluva fun trip. Simply put: there’s really no other game right now that lets you switch between different modes of traversal in an open-world game so fast and without a hitch, while also offering a ton of X-games things to do, be it in competitive spirit or in Zen mode where it’s just you and nature. Players who are wary of online games and their fickle nature may need to wait a bit for patches, but so far I’m enjoying the rough and tumble.
Time will tell if the game will have legs beyond its launch month and beyond, but Riders Republic’s open-world online nature and mass player competition incentive has a ton of promise.
- Loads of races and tricks events to partake in.
- Great transitions and little load time in-between.
- Looks clean and pleasing to the eyes.
- Mass racing can mess up your no-restart runs.
- Some online issues.
- Intro stages take a while before getting you to the good stuff.