Review: Riders Republic

Ubisoft tries to combine elements from The Crew and Steep into an all-round extreme sports game. Will they be able to turn this into a strong experience? Check it out in our review!

The problem with extreme sports titles is that they just barely exist these days. Many developers who do try it usually end up with a mediocre game at its best. Ubisoft, as they say here, doesn't give a damn! They try to combine elements from other Ubisoft sports and racing titles with some cool extreme sports in Riders Republic. As someone who really liked Steep, thought The Crew was somehow unique and used to play a lot of SSX and Tony Hawk, I definitely wanted to give this game a chance. To my surprise, it turns out that Ubisoft is definitely able to make the most of this genre.

Riders Republic combines a lot of sports and throws you with thousands of others in a very large open park. You will switch between skis, snowboards, bikes, wingsuits and much more! Just like in The Crew, you have the option to switch between different sports in the open world and also within races. There are also many different types of events to try out. I must admit that I have developed my preference for cycling in Riders Republic and that there are still some improvements in the winter sports and controls. But all in all I would love to tell you more about how positively surprised I was with this daring title!

in the beginning

When you start up Riders Republic, the game doesn't make a great first impression. As in, it's all pretty sluggish and slow. You are introduced to the various sports, that intro sequence was actually really cool. But then you get a kind of tour through the park. Here you are greeted by several characters, where one tries even harder to be cool than the other. You know that old guy with the skateboard? Yes, I really got that 'how do you do, fellow kids' feeling in the beginning. Fortunately, the game opens up completely for you, after the introduction and tutorials. Because once the game really starts, that's where you're going to be completely sucked into your picture.

To start with the map itself, it is immensely large and packed with online players, which you can also see when you open your map in the menu. You see people cycling, boarding and flying everywhere and the world feels big, open and alive. Beyond that, there are dozens of ways to travel around this world. For example, you have a rocket bike, snowmobile and so on. Throughout the park you will see many colorful landscapes, interesting areas based on real locations and above all a lot to do! Through the map you also see enough events, which vary a lot from each other. Some events are structured the same as the Forza Horizon showcases, where you can do big races. Anyway, let's talk about the various sports you can try in Riders Republic first.

Full throttle ahead

So you can perform multiple sports in this title. However, my preference was for the bike races, especially the downhill races. This one felt really fantastic and I got a nice kick out of it every time. The bike was just the smoothest way to play in the Republic for me. What I struggled with in the beginning was performing cool tricks. In the end you learn these controls pretty quickly and of course you can always practice in the spaces that Ubisoft gives you within the Republic. Personally, I don't care much about skydiving or flying through the air like a rocket, but again I was quite surprised with the controls and overall feel of these air sports. Snowboarding and skiing will never really match the feeling of an SSX game for me, yet the developers manage to make this experience really smooth and cool. Actually I have very little to complain about.

I did notice that playing in third person has a slight latency in the controls, I had to get used to this, I honestly don't know if this is intentional or not. However, it was never very disturbing. I mostly played the game in first person. That is a point of appreciation, because there are few sports games that really make first-person good. Well, I'll tell you that first person, especially with bikes, was the best experience for me. When you do tricks, your camera zooms out quickly, this is also really cool! The sense of speed is also something that many games fail at, but this too is implemented seamlessly. The game is not very forgiving when it comes to making mistakes. Sometimes it was really annoying to use the rewind function, it just doesn't work nearly as well as in Forza Horizon games and this was a bit frustrating at times. So folks, better do your best and don't crash!

multiplayer

This is where some of the issues come up, especially in terms of netcode and the physics of crashing into other players. The netcode, and many Ubisoft games suffer from this, just isn't great, especially in the mass races. Cycling downhill with 64 people at the same time is just not a fun experience in the first 2 minutes. The first race you go completely flat with laughter, but playing this mode seriously is simply impossible. Yes, it's great that next-gen allows these kinds of large events without performance issues in the game itself, but then the netcode has to connect seamlessly. The same goes for bumping into other players. This doesn't feel good at all, sometimes you just shoot 2 meters to the left when someone's pedal touches you a millimeter. These physics make for a not so cool experience when 63 others try to push you off a mountain. What is cool is the choice for player ghosts. Ubisoft obviously has no idea what the playerbase is going to do, so taking advantage of a well-known feature from the SSX games is smart of them. This way you always have the feeling that you are not just playing against AI.

Graphics, performance & bugs

To start with the positive; Riders Republic is a picture. The game has a lot of warm colors, an immensely large and beautiful map with a lot of detail and cool style elements in both the game and the menus. It just looks slick and good. There are, however, some visual bugs here and there, especially from other players suddenly flying into the air randomly. Nothing we're not used to from Ubisoft titles. The game also makes good use of lighting from the sun, for example, this often gave a warm and fresh feeling, almost as if you are really cycling outside during sunset.

In terms of performance on the Playstation 5, there was little to complain about. The game played almost always at 60fps and I noticed little to no dips myself, except when navigating through the map in your menu, when the game loads pins from all online players, the Playstation didn't always like this . There were also quite a few crashes before the patches, but I hardly noticed them the last few days!

You can dress up your character with different pieces of clothing and also all bikes, boards and skis that you unlock have a unique skin. Unfortunately, the possibility to spend real money is still there, but that is almost impossible to get out in an online game.

Verdict

Riders Republic isn't a perfect game, but it's just a lot of fun from start to finish. There is plenty to see, plenty to do and always find an adrenaline rush, no matter what sport you do. The game plays quickly, smoothly and first-person has not been an afterthought, but a strong feature. It was smart of the developers to look at other extreme sports games as well as their own The Crew titles. Let's hope the game can maintain a healthy player base. I'm guessing Ubisoft will continue to update the game well, as they do this with a lot of single and multiplayer titles these days. I can imagine that the full-price entry for the game is still a bit high for many, so we'll see how this will turn out. All in all, it's constant entertainment and a nice rush to cross, fly or slide through the Republic!

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