My extreme sports ‘career’ started all the way back in the 90s, when I first played Cool Boarders 2 on the original Playstation. It looks like crap now, but back then it was très cool! I never got into the Tony Hawk craze like some of my friends, opting for the snowy slopes instead of asphalt. When Riders Republic was announced, I thought it was kind of cool.
If something this was around back then, I’d have no doubt my whole clique would be playing this all day, every day after school ended.
Too bad I don’t have that many gamers friends right now…
So is Riders Republic still worth it if you’re a lone wolf?
What is Riders Republic?
Riders Republic is an open world first/third person extreme sports online multiplayer game developed by Ubisoft Annecy and published by Ubisoft. It’s available on the PC, Playstation and Xbox consoles, the Luna and the the Stadia…the latter two aren’t available in Singapore, so we don’t really care.
Our review copy was provided by the awesome guys and gals at Ubisoft Singapore!
If you’ve played Steep (which was also developed by Ubisoft Annecy), you can think of Riders Republic as a spiritual sequel. There are a lot of elements from that game carried over, though the new extreme sports add on to the overall experience too.
In Riders Republic, the whole game world is your playground. In it, you can ride, shred, tear up the slopes or whatever extreme sport slang you prefer. You get five different sports to fool around with; mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, wingsuit gliding and rocket wingsuit.
Everything is seamlessly done with the game’s HUGE map (which is based off a couple of the US’ National Parks), which has every single biome you can think of. Forests, huge snowy mountains, craggy deserts…and all of them meld into one another seamlessly. You could be mountain biking in a forest one minute and then emerge at the edge of a cliff that’s perfect for wingsuit gliding the next. To the game’s credit, the game world is immense and takes a ton of time to travel (even via the rocket wingsuit) from one end to the other.
Thankfully, you can teleport around with Quick Travel. There are a ton of Quick Travel points littered throughout the game. If you’re really lazy, you can even opt for a custom helicopter drop at any location you want, though that costs in-game currency. Thankfully, the developers put the Quick Travel points in a ton of useful locations (like the tops of mountains), so that you can just teleport there and get to doing what you want to do.
Switching sports is done via a shortcut that easily and quickly change whatever gear you have on. You can even bike in the snow or ski on dry land. Needless to say, you can also customize your Avatar with a ton of clothing, including quirky ones that you can get by paying real money. Yep, like most Ubisoft games, there’s a shop that allows you to buy clothes via the in-game currency, or for certain items, via credits you pay real money for.
What’s cool about the game world is that you can see both AI and other players goofing too. You never feel as if you’re alone in the wilderness, as somebody’s just around the corner. It’s a really cool feature. Player physics aren’t enforced so you can’t be griefed by somebody who’s just out to ruin your day. I’ve thankfully never encountered somebody like that in all of my playtime though.
One thing I need to mention is that the game has a hand Rewind feature. Whether in solo or multiplayer, you can rewind time for your racer to get into a former position if you screw up and miss a checkpoint. It obviously won’t reset other players in multiplayer races so using it will pretty much ensure you come in last.
As somebody who regularly plays solo, having people around without needing to interact with them is awesome. I get the feel of being in a multiplayer game. If I want to compete against people, all I need to do is sign up for one of the regular Mass Races.
Incidentally, Mass Races are one of the best things about Riders Republic. Each Mass Race can have up to 64 players, which makes them a hectic and very fun affair. Mass Races usually combine multiple sports into one making them a very long affair.
It’s damn fun jostling for position but it’s even better when you see somebody wipe out or fly out of control past a checkpoint!
Even with so many players on-screen at once, not once did I notice the frame rate drop or stutter. I’m extremely sensitive to fluctuating frame rates (Far Cry 6 gave me motion sickness) and I got no issues at all with Riders Republic. There are some visual drawbacks to the game to make up for that silky smooth FPS though. Object and foliage draw distance is pretty crap when you’re flying, with everything just popping into view as you come nearer.
That’s the price you pay for the open world freedom I guess.
In fact, freedom is pretty much the name of the game.
There’s a paper thin plot about how you want to be the best
Pokemon master extreme sports athlete but that’s just something to keep you playing. It’s really unnecessary, because if nothing else, Riders Republic sure knows how to incentivize you to keep on gaming.
That’s due to the Star-based leveling system.
Pretty much any event you do nets you stars. These stars are then added to your total. Hit certain milestones and you unlock new content. Ubisoft’s made the milestones so achievable that you’ll be hitting them (and unlocking stuff) roughly every 10 – 20 minutes in the early going. While it gets longer as you level, by the time you reach the upper echelons you’ll already be hooked and won’t care.
The main way to progress in the game is by doing races. Each of the five sports has their own Career XP level, which is independent of your Stars leveling system. As your Career XP for a sport increases, you get better equipment and access to more races. It’s a vicious cycle that I wholehearted embrace because I’m hooked on seeing what gear I get next. Besides, the gear is necessary anyways as you’ll need them to replay earlier races.
Replaying races also net you stars and better gear is the only way you can fulfill some of the secondary objectives (which all races have). You’ll NEVER get first on Pro Difficulty (one of the secondary objectives) with beginner gear.
Of the 5 sports, my favourites are the ones that let you fly (or glide). There’s just something about soaring (or gliding) through the air, flying above other players as they race or just mess around. The air races are also some of the game’s best, with them taking you through some of the map’s best locations. There’s nothing like zooming up a frozen mountain in the rocket wingsuit, as trees whip pass and the sun shines through their branches.
It’s damn cool and most of the races have similarly ‘Ohhh’ moments too!
For all its goodness, Riders Republic isn’t without its issues.
One main one is especially irritating; the crashes. There’s no two ways about it. Riders Republic is unstable as hell. Throughout my weekend with the game, I’ve had it crash more than 10 times. I stopped counting after that because what’s the point? The crashes happen at any time, while you’re doing anything.
I’ve had crashes while I was in a Mass Race. I’ve had crashes while I was doing solo races. I’ve had crashes in Multiplayer. I’ve had crashes while I was browsing the damn in-game shop! It’s really super irritating when the game crashes in the middle of a race (especially a Mass Race) because all your rewards are lost! There’s nothing to be done but close the game via the dashboard and restart the whole damn thing!
I also hate the bike physics when it comes to doing the obstacle courses. The races are fine, it’s the obstacle courses that need fine tuning! The bike controls like crap, making it extremely hard to navigate the already tricky courses. As the physics are now, it takes a steady hand, great controller control and a boatload of luck to finish any of them within the time limit.
Another thing I could do without is the cloyingly over the top amount of ‘tude’ that everybody in the game has. I get it. You people are ‘crazy’ and hardcore and whatnot. I don’t give a hoot. Can you tone that down? I’m here for the game, thanks.
The ‘xtreme sports rulez brah’ attitude with all the NPCs’ one of the worst things about the game. They’re so in your face and obnoxious that every time I have to interact with them I wish I could’ve done so with a loaded shotgun. It got to a point where I’d skip cinematics and anything related to them.
You want extreme? How about I hunt you assholes down with guns while you run? Cowabunga doods!
The Bottom Line.
With its huge open world and different extreme sports to play, Riders Republic hits all the right notes for me. The controls take some getting used to but once you’re down with them, you’ll find that it’s a breeze to pull of tricks.
There are a couple of technical issues that hamper the game (including its rampant crashing issues) but those should (hopefully) be fixed in the next few months as the team irons out all the remaining bugs.
Crashing issues abound but a very solid sports game.
- Huge open world.
- 5 different sports to play.
- The multiple leveling systems.
- Constant drip feed of rewards.
- Keeps crashing.
- Tons of foliage and object pop-in when using the wingsuit or rocket.
- Obnoxious NPCs.
- Bike physics on obstacle courses.