When thinking about extreme sports in video games, most people don’t really get all that far. The most popular game from recent years is possibly Steep but the offer is thin. The offer is very thin at any rate and there’s a real gap in the market there. Reason enough for Ubisoft to try and fill the gap with Rider’s Republic, a massive multiplayer extreme sports game. Did they succeed? Read on for a review of Rider’s Republic.
The premise of Rider’s Republic is simple at first glance. In a huge open world, which you traverse using bikes, snowboards, ski’s or wingsuits, you partake in extreme sport races or trick battles. You don’t do this alone but against 11 or even 63 other opponents. In between these races, there’s tons of exploring to do. As I said, the premise seems simple at first glance but there’s a lot more to it.
You’re introduced to the game through an hour long tutorial which takes place in the open world. Bit by bit you’re introduced to the various sports you can partake in and it’s game mechanics. You’ll also meet the various characters of the Rider’s Republic, a home base for all extreme sports fans. The game does contain a small story but mostly for the sake of having one and being able to provide a narrative to the various in-game activities. Personally I found the story a little cringey at times and just wanted to get into the action faster. Fortunately, after the introduction the rest of the game opens up to you and the story is minimal. Don’t get me wrong, story in a game is extremely important for me. But let’s be honest, you don’t play a game like Rider’s Republic for the story.
Two major parts of the game are races and trick battles. Races are, as you might guess, races where you race against other players on a track to come out on top. So speed is everything here. Trick battles are races as well, however the goal here is to do a lot of tricks along the way with your mountain bike, snowboard or skis. Every player gets a maximum amount of opportunities to do tricks before the finish line. The player who finishes with the highest score at the end wins the battle. Speed doesn’t necessarily get you a win here.
Play it the way you want
One of the first parts of the introduction is deciding whether you want to play the game in Racer or Trickster mode. It basically means whether you want to focus on the racing part of the game, with auto-assists for landing and easier tricks, or play the game without any assists and fully manual. This’ll make doing tricks harder, you need to balance properly and land correctly. Very hard but satisfying and it nets you the most amount of points. It can be toggled on and off at any time and is a great way of catering to various playstyles. It also ensures Rider’s Republic is a highly accessible game.
When you finish with the introduction and get into the meat of the game, you’ll notice a huge open world based on various ecosystems in the U.S.A. The game recreates famous national parks of the United States such as Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand Teton and more. It also ensures there’s various environments such as snowy peaks for skiing and snowboarding and forests where mountain biking is great to do. One of the first things you’ll notice however on the world map, is there’s not many events at the get go.
Pacing is just right
This is because Rider’s Republic doesn’t want to throw you in the deep end and paces the game a bit for you. An excellent choice I might add. It’s all tied into a massive progression system where you gradually unlock new events, new ways to play, new gear and new cosmetics. It must have been tempting for the developers to just get everything out there, because the game is massive. However, I think it would’ve overwhelmed players too. At the start, you get a couple of events and separate progression for the different play styles. By partaking in events and races for your playstyle, you earn stars. Every few stars you earn, unlock more events and races, gear and cosmetics. This way, the game opens up gradually and is tailored to the way you want to play. And once again, you can freely pursue another progression path.
These events and races are all played with 11 other players. While Rider’s Republic boasts itself as a massive multiplayer online game, there are some nuances to be placed. All of the standard events aren’t played against other players in real time. You compete against other player’s ‘ghosts. The concept should be familiar to racing fans. It basically puts a simulation of another player race in your session, so you can see how you stack up. There are rankings all the same, it’s just not real time. It’s a smart way to give players the illusion of going up against other players while keeping it technically viable in an open world. I do have the feeling they intentionally put Ghosts there from players who are ranked below you. Because, to be honest, I really suck at this kind of game and still managed to do really well. While in a true multiplayer game I would definitely finish last or very close to last.
A game full of ghosts
Regarding multiplayer, if you open the World Map you’ll see hundreds of icons which resemble players on the map moving in real time. Maybe even thousands. Once you explore the open world, you’ll continuously meet other players exploring or will even stumble upon races in progress. This is another optical illusion and a very smart one at that. Most of them are players’ ghosts once again. There’s an option in the menu to only encounter real players which will drastically reduce the amount of people. And no, that’s not a Stadia multiplayer problem since the game has full cross-play. It’s not about having a healthy population either. It’s just technically very demanding and something even MMORPG’s don’t always handle very well.
Either way, this option is genius in my opinion and something you want more games to do. It absolutely makes the world feel very alive in a way I’ve seen almost no games do apart from city hubs. Riders Republic does it seamlessly. At the same time, I also realize Rider’s Republic is the type of game where it can be easily done because there’s no interactions with NPC in the open world. There is wildlife but apart from that it’s you and other players. Regardless, the open world is beautiful, great to explore and full of other people (Or their ghosts). There’s even fast travel so you can explore wherever you want to explore.
No Ubisoft without collectibles
That’s not all. It wouldn’t be an Ubisoft game if there weren’t collectibles. The open world is filled with collectibles such as landmarks, which show you incredible vista’s. Relics are collectibles which you can ride over and then there’s Stunt Challenges. Stunt challenges are all about technique. You go through a parkour filled with obstacles and need to complete the course. Like riding over a very small beam, jumping gaps and so on. An extra challenge for those players who feel up to it.
Soon after starting the game, you’ll also have collected some gear. This gear is all about the sports gear you use. There’s tons of bikes, snowboards, ski’s and wingsuits which don’t just vary in cosmetics. There’s stats on each one and you’ll notice that some are better for racing and speed while others are better for control and doing tricks. Once again supporting the idea of supporting every play style. Of course, some gear is purely cosmetic and you’ll be able to put on something completely crazy such as a giraffe costume.
Content is king
For those of you wondering if the game might get old fast, I can’t really give you a clear answer on that. It really depends on the type of gamer you are. I’ll be honest, Rider’s Republic really isn’t my type of game. But even then, I can see there’s loads to do to keep players entertained. If you’ve managed to complete an event and gather a star, there’s three optional objectives per race for those who want to really master a race. It ranges from a time trial, to collecting items along the way or gaining a certain score. It adds a lot of replayability and makes the game hard to master.
Now one of the signature features of this game, and what it was heavily marketed to, are the mass races. A mass race is a race where you compete against 63 other players, in real-time. Let that sink in. It’s an impressive technical feat and also tons of chaotic fun. Each mass race consists of three races with different components. During the race you’ll switch between snowboarding, mountain biking or gliding seamlessly. It’s very fun and one of the coolest things about Rider’s Republic. Sadly there’s a limited amount of races however I’m sure this will be improved upon in time.
Best enjoyed with other players
If you want to go head to head in real time with other players on a smaller scale, that’s possible too. There are multiple playlists to get into real-time 12 player races or trick battles. It’ll select one of the available events for you and will net you stars along the way, so you can kill two birds with one stone. There’s even time limited playlists with special conditions and special gear to acquire. As Rider’s Republic is all about multiplayer, I understand most people are worried about playing it on Stadia. Well, don’t be. Rider’s Republic offers full cross-play, so matchmaking is never an issue. That’s not all, the game even features cross-progression, making it the ideal game to switch between systems.
From a graphical perspective, the game isn’t as impressive as it could be. The environment is top notch, however the game seems to be capped at 30 FPS in 4K mode. So for those of you among us who find it important, it’s something to take note of. If you’re not too bothered by that, like me, Rider’s Republic is still a beautiful and relaxing game to explore. I did however notice some stuttering animations. The soundtrack also matches the style well, with punk pop bands like The Offspring and Green Day riffing along.
One good thing to know is that Rider’s Republic is a live service game like every Ubisoft game nowadays. The good thing is this means the game will be continuously expanded to receive a steady stream of content. Ubisoft has already released the roadmap for what’s to come in the near feature which you can check out below. It’s safe to say that if you like the game, you’ll be playing it for a while.
Rider’s Republic has done an amazing job to fill a void that’s been there far too long. It offers a massive Extreme Sports experience for a lot of players, whether you enjoy racing or tricks. It’s massive open world also offers enough to do in between and the multiplayer aspect remains impressive and innovative. Using Ghosts instead of real time players may seem sketchy at first but is an excellent solution to go around the technical limitations of today. While I’m not a real sports game fan, it’s clear to me this game has a solid foundation, lots of content and can be a go-to game for fans of the genre.
Pros / Cons
+ Multiplayer techniques make the world feel massive and alive
+ Great accessibility, lots of customization and just fun
+ Mass races
– Story is unnecessary and cringey
– Graphically not top notch
Review Score: 8