Riders Republic – Shredding With Style
Xbox Series, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
Hurtling through a canyon, I bank to the left, narrowly avoiding a rocky outcropping that could bring me to a sudden and painful stop. Other riders swoop around me, each one trying to hold onto their position in the race. Flying through the checkpoint markers I manage to get myself into third place when we hit the change gate. In an instant, I am out of my wingsuit and on my snowboard (because, video games) shredding down the side of a mountain. I pull a few flips as I race, not because it really does anything helpful but it does look cool. Thankfully the auto-landing setting makes sure I land properly as long as I don’t hit the ground head first. A short time later and it’s another change gate, this time launching me onto my mountain bike for the last part of the race. Through some drift turns and strategic use of sprinting I manage to get myself into first place, only to jump in the wrong direction, crashing into a tree and surrendering any chance I have of winning the race. Luckily in the Riders Republic, there are prizes for participation.
A spiritual successor to 2016’s Steep, Riders Republic expands the events on offer for players with the introduction of downhill bike races and trick events. Fortunately, Riders Republic is a game that doesn’t overwhelm new players, instead progressively introducing new events for the player to tackle in the quest to take part in all of the major extreme sports events. The greatest thing about Riders Republic is that you do not have to be a master of any event. Just partaking and finishing is enough to allow you to continue on to the next event. Every event provides you stars, and the more you have the more events you can take part in.
Which is a good thing as there are a lot of events for you to finish.
With a mixture of race and trick events on bikes, skis, snowboards, rocket-propelled wings, and wingsuits you will definitely have plenty to keep you occupied. Riders Republic will leave you spoiled for choice, but it is up to you if you want to focus on one particular event or spread your wings and take them all on. While playing Riders Republic there were times when I would mainline the bike events, jumping along to the next event unlocked and just following that event line. Other times I would just use the overhead map to scroll around and pick an event that I was in the mood for. A quick fast travel – that was instantaneous on my Xbox Series X – and a short journey later and I would be in whatever the event was. The only issue I had with finding events is that you have to physically find them on the map. There is no list you can refer to and use as a shortcut, which can lead to some scrolling across the different map areas if you are trying to find events in a certain discipline.
The official events aren’t the only thing to do of course. Scattered throughout the world are stunt challenges that will test your skills. I stumbled upon one in the main hub area early on and was suddenly trying to navigate a winding course through the treetops on my mountain bike, constantly falling off and having to make generous use of the game’s rewind feature to get me back on track. These are fun little diversions of varying difficulties that can be anything from flying a wingsuit through rock spires to riding a bike on a narrow beam while dressed in a pink unicorn suit.
Of course, it would not be a Ubisoft game if there was not a world full of collectibles and landmarks to discover. A really big world. Luckily there are a few nifty ways you can explore it all. While the game provides you with a rocket-powered bike, skis and a paraglider, most of the time I just made use of the rocket wings I used in my races, soaring through the air to my destinations. There are a bunch of RR balloons hidden throughout the world, but I have no idea what they unlock if you find them all. These don’t show up on the map and the few that I found were ones that I stumbled upon. Searching them all will keep an achievement hunter occupied for a good while.
This is not too bad as it gives you plenty of time to enjoy the world and the beauty in it. Whether you are shredding down the slopes or soaring through the air, the world looks gorgeous and you can see a lot of care has been taken to ensure that all of the different environments both look and feel the way they should. Whether you are travelling to or partaking in an event it is not uncommon to see dozens of NPC riders doing their own thing through the game world. It really does look cool when you are racing down the slopes on your skis and suddenly have a group of NPC’s soaring through the air above you in wingsuits in a race of their own. You will constantly encounter these types of moments as you play, really leaving you feeling as though you are part of the Riders Republic the basic storyline talks about.
If you really want to just kick back and enjoy the digital serenity you can always switch to Zen mode and just do your own thing at your own pace. Zen mode is the closest Riders Republic has to an offline mode and is basically nothing more than a free-roam experience. All events and collectibles are unavailable and cannot even be seen on the map. If you don’t have a reliable internet connection then you will be majorly hampered in what you can do and how much enjoyment you get out of the game so be aware of that.
For those whose countries have decent broadband infrastructure (unlike what seems to be a significant chunk of Australia) the always-online component of this live service game will not be a problem, populating the world with other riders and bringing them together for Mass Race events at random intervals. While these Mass Race events sound like fun I found that for the most part skill is thrown out the door. In these events, you can have up to 60 players in the race at one time. 60 people that all start together in a small area. Oh BTW, collisions with other players is a thing as well. The result of all of this is the start of the races are always a clusterfuck of epic proportions, with riders bouncing off each other and somehow always wiping me out to the point that by the time I manage to get everything under control I’m in the middle of the pack with no chance of catching up to the leader. While the Mass Races are a fun idea, it is a crapshoot where the ones that manage to get in front of the pack early hold a sizable advantage. The rest of us are just there to make up the numbers. I found it strange then that despite the Mass Race events being easily populated, every time I tried to find a match in the dedicated PvP menus I could never find anything. The search would keep asking if I wanted to expand the search for match-ups but not once did I manage to find one. I would have liked to experience this game mode for this review, however, for some reason, I could not find a suitable match-up.
Despite Ubisoft’s clear intention to make this a game where people create and style their own rider, the lack of clothing options for purchase render a lot of people just sticking with the basics and looking exactly the same. There are clothing options that can be purchased with the in-game currency, however, there is only a limited selection that people can choose from. While it does refresh daily it really cuts down on the amount of options players have to style their avatar how they really want to. There are more options that one can take, but to be able to purchase these pieces, you have to be willing to slap down some real-world currency to gain access to them.
Riders Republic provides a solid extreme sports game in which players get to take part in a variety of different extreme sports. While there are flaws to the execution and limited options for players to customise their avatar, there is still plenty here to keep players entertained and exploring the world. As a live service offering, there are easy opportunities for expansion into other sports to give players even more options when playing. It is just a shame that the multiplayer aspects are a bit clunky, but these are issues that can be worked on with patches. If you liked Steep, you will love Riders Republic.
Riders Republic was reviewed on Xbox Series X with a code kindly provided by Ubisoft Australia