As a gamer, the thought of going outside is a strange and foreign concept but thanks to Ubisoft, we get to digitally head to the mountains for some extreme sports. The world is your oyster with access to mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, rocket wings and glide suits set across geographically accurate landscapes. Featuring multiplayer drop in and drop out style gameplay, expansive landscapes to explore and a variety of gameplay elements, it’s hard not to find something to do in this game.
Set across seven regions, this gigantic playground sees you travel around one of the largest maps I’ve ever seen in a game. Standing atop Mount Owen in the Grand Teton region was dizzying as I stare down the snow-covered mountains with jagged stone edges peppering the landscape. It was daring me to snap on my snowboard and test my nerve as I almost plummet down the sheer cliff faces at speeds I rarely hit in my car on the highway.
What was crazier was being surrounded by random players who were all tearing down the mountainside in giraffe costumes or underwear simply because you can. Given that the map is so gigantic and covered in real-life players I would have assumed that fast travel was going to be an issue. To surprise it’s almost instantaneously accomplished with everything loading in without a hitch; a feat not easily attained. During a regular race, you will find other players roaming the world and can even jump through your race which just adds to the chaos. The “Mass race” events will trigger from time to time and cram in up to 64 players for a 3 part race which is impressive but at the time of writing is prone to a few bugs and players sinking in and out of the floor.
The bread and butter of the game is all earned through Career mode, competing in 5 different categories will open up points of interest, new locations and eventually sponsorships. There is a pair of overly enthusiastic and alarming positive riders that will cheer you on as you earn stars and cash from any given race. Once you have opened up the world a bit more and gained some confidence, you can return to each race and try and complete the optional challenges for more stars.
As a side note, I am all for being supportive but the dialogue and end screen results are all a little over the top. I came dead last in my first race and a giant banner covered my screen saying “Congrats!” and the girl who scouted me told me “that was wild” and I’m going to be the next big thing. Did she not see me collect myself on the tree and then ride in circles for two minutes while I tried to battle the games frustrating reset mechanics?
There are two distinct control options, the first offers a more traditional model of tricks with face buttons leaving the right thumbstick free to control the camera. The second choice allows you to use the right thumbstick to flick back and forth for a more advanced method. First and Third-person options are also available for races and exploration but the camera will revert to third-person if you attempt any tricks which can be a jarring transition.
For me personally, I was absolutely in love with the downhill sprints in first person. Travelling at over 100km/h while the rocks, trees and other races zipped by was genuinely exhilarating. This extended to the fresh powdery snow to events filled with tight nit twists and turns ready to catch you out with one wrong turn.
The whole experience can be a vibe, from the chill soundtrack that fades in and out as you launch off giant leaps to the brightly coloured signposts and menus looking like a fresh spray-painted art piece; it was usually a happy environment. The hub will let you party up with up to five friends for you to freely explore the world and find hidden collectables. There are hundreds of balloons placed in some difficult and not so difficult spots and being able to switch to any type sport attachment e.g bike, snowboard or wingsuit, it made the journey quick and easy. I take my hat off to anyone that can master the flight portions of the game as it had me thoroughly stumped trying to master the wingsuit. There is a lot of risk vs rewards scenarios at play and it really is a fortune favours the bold game where playing it safe won’t likely lead to victory.
It was still early days and I am living in Australia, however the long waiting times for the PvP game types such as “Free For all” or “Trick Attack” left me standing around for quite some time. I think the longest I waited was 8 minutes between games and that was a shame as Trick Attack was my favourite part of the game. It was a 6v6 game to control territories in a wild skate park with pirate ship, octopus and more themes across the arena. By nailing combos off-ramps and rails you take over that section and earn points but can just as easily lose it.
For a grand vision, Ubisoft have created a wild playground for all to enjoy either casually or competitively. While occasionally hitting some frustrating difficulty spikes in certain courses, there is enough variety to simply move on to keep the fun rolling.
- Giant open world to freely explore
- Load times are super quick
- Bike, ski and air events all feel unique and engaging
- Fun and playful environments
- Random difficulty spikes
- Reset animation on crash cause more problems than solves
- Cringy dialogue
- General bugs and clipping issues