Descenders with good graphics
I had high hopes for Riders Republic from when it was first revealed at Ubisoft Forward at E3 2021. Sure, the trailer was full of the teeth grating bodacious faux-radical chat that would go on to absolutely infest the main game, but the actual action grabbed me straight away. It looked like they’d made a game for helmet cam footage of boys absolutely fucking themselves down a hill at 200mph. The kind of thing you’d watch on Red Bull TV at 4am. Sold.
When the game actually came out, I was half expecting it to let me down to be honest. Me and Ubisoft have had a fractured relationship this year. The more I think about Far Cry 6, the more the positive scores that game somehow received seem inconceivable. They’ve spunked their formula to the point where even someone like myself who enjoys some open-world time wasting is just sick of it.
Weirdly, Riders Republic is all about the open-world time wasting. The map is absolutely littered with shit that you can collect if you want, but crucially, the game understands that most people can’t be arsed, and they just want to get on with the flipping, racing and being Iron Man.
Speaking of, the version that Ubisoft sent over was the Gold, or Ultimate, or Super Mega edition and with it came some absolutely game-breaking bonuses. These include literally rocket skies that you can use to absolutely fly past whatever you were originally aiming at, but it’s always a laugh. They feel like a mod. They feel like the physics are breaking apart at the seams. What a game.
Then you get to the events. Not only are they actually fairly challenging, but the trick system, which allows you to augment basic tricks with 720 spins and triple backflips, is incredibly tight, and when you bail, it feels like you’ve fucked up, not the game. The game also absolutely encourages you to push the trick you do to the absolute brink. Sure, you could just do a double backflip, but there’s that wee thing in the back of your head working out whether or not you could have fit a third in, or maybe another spin, or something else ridiculous. Once you give into that feeling of fully sending anything you do, you’ll have an amazing time.
The dialogue is absolute toilet, but who fucking cares man. Yes, the game is chock full of the type of people that if you met them on a real ski slope, you’d take one of they sharp sticks you use to steer and puncture their lungs with it, but it’s pretty hard to care about that, when with about 3 clicks of the controller you spawn literal wings out your back and take off towards the sun.
You can also make your guy look like a total dick, which I think is key to the experience. Sure, you could make them look like the coolest extreme man you’ve ever seen, Jeff Hardy incarnate, but it’s much funnier to see a guy in a giraffe costume disappear into a crevasse than some guy in Billabong cargo trousers.
What should have been a sleepy wee release in the middle of Ubi’s 200 games per year calendar ended up being one of my favorites of the year. I thought it might lead to a new wave of extreme sports games, but honestly, what would be the point? They’ve basically managed to nail all of them, except skateboarding, which EA are *hopefully* looking after with Skate.
In short, Riders Republic is brilliant, extremely daft, and you shouldn’t patch it because it’s Ubisoft and you imagined you’d be taking down ski lodges by destroying alarms and suffocating guards. It’s one of these things that I’ll keep playing here and there, and then one day I’ll realise I’ve finished every race in the game and have most of the trophies. It even has a mode where you can just drop into the frankly comically huge map and do whatever you want, just vibe. Vibes mode. I don’t think it’s called that, but it should be.