Riders Republic Review

Dan Webb

Steep was such a great name for an extreme sports franchise. It works with skiing as mountains are steep; it works with snowboarding too as, you know, mountains are steep; heck, it even works with biking, because guess what, mountains are steep – biking, incidentally, is the new discipline added to what is effectively the spiritual successor to Ubisoft’s incredibly impressive, Steep. ‘Riders Republic,’ the new name, well, it makes no bloody sense. If you snowboard, you’re not a rider. If you ski, you’re not a rider. In fact, the only thing you are a rider of is a bike, which is a small fraction of what Riders Republic is. Anyway, annoyance over the name change aside, Steep was decent, and shock horror, Riders Republic is great too, but it’s not without its annoyances.

Riders Republic sees players take back to the extreme sports slopes for some competitive winter – and now summer – events. As you’d expect from a spiritual successor to Steep, Riders Republic has skiing and snowboarding (both trick and race events), rocket wingsuits, your bog-standard wingsuits, and now it has bikes. Heck, it’s even got a snowmobile to get around the absolutely huge and incredibly diverse map. A map that spans for miles and miles, and has you racing down snowy mountains, biking through the desert, and jetpacking through valleys and dense forests. It has every biome covered for your extreme sports’ needs! 

It’s clear that Ubisoft Annecy has learned a lot of lessons from Steep and put that to practice in the last few years, and thankfully the weird physics issues that plagued Rider Republic’s predecessor are nowhere to be seen here, and instead what we have now is an incredibly tight experience on the slopes. Like Steep the controls are relatively simple, but deceptively deep. With two control methods, one for downhill races and the other for trick races, players have the tools at their disposal to compete on all scales and importantly feel in complete control of their character. As for the new bike disciplines and their controls, it’s safe to say Ubisoft Annecy picked up where it left off with Steep there. Great stuff all-round! The controls are super responsive, and you truly feel the speed and tension when you’re flying down a hill at over a 100kmh, which is what that discipline needed to make it shine.

While Riders Republic seems to have fixed the annoying physics issues from Steep, it does however – and rather unfortunately – make some new mistakes along the way. It’s safe to say that Riders Republics’ biggest issue on the slopes is the collision physics between your character and other player characters, which is a touch bizarre – they could have been there in Steep, to be honest, but we certainly didn’t notice them like we did here! The amount of times I was doing a downhill race or a trick event against the AI, when out of nowhere one of my competitors came from either flank and knocked me off course was frankly ridiculous. What’s worse as well was that when it happened, more often than not it’d make me miss a jump or even a checkpoint, pretty much sabotaging a whole run. It happens with alarming regularity for it to be deemed incredibly bad luck too! Sure, it makes sense in the mass-multiplayer races (more on those shortly), but in a straight up race or trick event against the AI, it’s just straight up mind-boggling.

Pinball wizards aside, the rest of my criticisms for Riders Republic comes from its pacing and constant interruptions, rather than anything wrong it does on the slopes. From its glacial opening which is interminable – fitting, eh? – and characters interrupting you every two minutes, to pointless upgrades after every race (or near enough, especially in the early parts of the game) and the slow and unskippable map zooms after you unlock a new event (which is every 2-minutes, effectively) Riders Republic can be a frustrating experience and definitely has a flow issue. When all you want to do is bounce from one event to the next, the game seems to want to slow you down… as if there isn’t enough content and they need to pad out the experience. Let me tell you though, folks, Riders Republic has a ton of content, so why Ubisoft Annecy sought the need to do that is beyond me. Where Riders Republic excels is on the slopes, out in the open-world, and everything that stops you doing that is just an unnecessary distraction. 

Oh, and while we’re talking about pointless, there’s one race (maybe more, but we only experienced it once) in Riders Republic which literally has you sprinting to the start line (as part of the race)… what the actual hell is that all about?! That’s the thing with Riders Republic, it’s as if they tried to be cool when all people want is an extreme sports game that they can hone their skills in and try to constantly improve their times and/or scores, and dick about with mates. That makes the lack of a “retry” button at the results screen after an event even more mind-blowing. Ubisoft Annecy has gone for style over substance with Riders Republic, and it’s not even that stylish.

Riders Republic is effectively all the good things that Steep did, minus some of the less annoying aspects, with a load of the DLC content mechanics as default, with the inclusion of bikes and some brand-new annoyances. It does crash a bit too much for our liking too. That’s the short and narrow of it. Where Riders Republic does outperform its predecessor considerably though is when it comes to the online.

Perhaps the biggest addition, aside from the aforementioned bike discipline, is the all-new Mass Races, which are as they sound: massive races. It’s effectively loads of players (on new-gen consoles it’s 64-players; on last-gen it’s 32), loads of different disciplines, and loads of bloody chaos. Honestly, they’re brilliant. Sure, they’re frustrating at times due to the collision issues I mentioned above, but that’s part of the lure here: the utter chaos of it all. The race strategy quickly becomes to pull away from the pack or pass at the right time, because if you get caught in the storm, you’re in for one hell of a bumpy ride. So, if you fancy yourself as an all-rounder, the Mass Races are definitely a go-to. And in my opinion, Riders Republic’s biggest selling point.

If you’re not up for a bit of chaos, and you’d like to hone your skills in an individual discipline, you can try your hand at the FFA races or the snow park tricks battles, which are absolutely fabulous too. Our only concern at present is that online isn’t a level playing field, and it rewards those with the best bikes, for instance, and those who have played the game the most, which is not ideal. How is my 490 bike going to beat a 720 bike? Clue: it’s not. If competitive action against strangers isn’t for you, as was the case with Steep you can play every single event with your friends instead. Sure, Riders Republic is great on your lonesome, but it’s definitely even better with friends. 

On the whole though, Riders Republic is a great follow-up to Steep, adding not only bikes and Steep’s DLC rocket wingsuits as standard and fixing some of the aforementioned’s bugbears, but the Mass Races and online trick battles give Riders Republic an entirely a new edge. Sure, some new annoyances seem to have crept their way to the surface, but they’re minor inconveniences in an otherwise sturdy extreme sports outing. The best we’ve had in quite some time, to be perfectly honest.

Riders Republic

A definite improvement over Steep, thanks to the Mass Races and the new bike discipline, but Ubisoft Annecy has still got a lot of work to do if it wants to break into upper echelons of gaming. It should look to Playground Games and how they craft an elite open-world sports game if they want to reach that next-level, then maybe they too could be mentioned in the same breath as SSX Tricky. Fingers crossed, the potential is definitely there!

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Riders Republic's soundtrack is... okay. Not as iconic as Steep’s, even though it does have an folksy version of Gangsta's Paradise, which is... interesting, to say the least.


While the visuals don’t really blow you away, the next-gen 60fps definitely enhances the experience. It’s rock solid on previous generations too!


Steep’s annoying physics woes are thankfully a thing of the past, and while on the whole everything is great, the new player-on-player collision issues are incredibly frustrating.


The new disciplines are fab, the constant interruptions are not. Just let me snowboard, dammit! Loads of great content, in a truly immersive world! Lovely stuff!


No creativity or even any effort here, to be completely honest. Uneven 16/32 Gamerscore achievements are surely going to wind up some people too. Like us.

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