reviews\ Nov 16, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Steep: First Impressions from the Beta

Will Ubisoft’s new venture break the mold for extreme sports in gaming?

Steep’, developed by ‘Assassin’s Creed’ developers, Ubisoft, is the studio’s upcoming extreme sports centered project, inspired by the breathtaking French Alps of their region. Boasting a heavy online element and freedom of movement throughout, the game is expected to give players an experience to rival anything that has come before it.

So far, the gameplay proves itself to be pretty challenging. Your character completes races and courses all over the mountain in order to unlock new areas and maps. The courses will be playable alone, allowing you to beat your personal best, or online, putting you in competition with other players. Choosing from a “Sports Wheel”, you select the “discipline” necessary for your current run: snowboarding, skiing, paragliding, or wingsuit, aka “squirrel suit”.

Races aren’t the only way to play as you still have free run of the mountain. Practicing your moves at your leisure might be your best friend here as the maneuverability usually ends up being a bit jarring depending on your sport. Emphasizing control and proper cadence for the different forms of steering you need to learn, the game heartily encourages you to utilize all of your disciplines. Still, it’s difficult not to find yourself favoring the snowboard and disregarding the others with it being the fastest and yielding the most aerial tricks possible, which (like most games of this caliber) earns you more points as you race and compete.

The one aspect of the game that has been receiving a lot of praise is the visual rendering of the environment. Indeed, it is beautiful and masterfully accomplished, even in its current beta state. The only down side: it does…get old. It’s not hard to imagine, but as impressively authentic as the white snowy banks and clear horizon appear to be, it’s still essentially the same white snowy banks and clear horizon all around. While all that is to be expected considering where the game takes place, it does mean that you might only be impressed for as long as it takes you to start diving into the gameplay, at which point it begins to feel repetitive.

‘Steep’ plans to focus most of its end game in public sharing. While there appears to be a core element of self-progression and enjoying the crisp open environment, as you would in real-life mountain snow sports, the purpose is still primarily to practice and compete against friends and online players. It’s still too early to tell what the final product will bring as far as expanded content, but so far, if you’re a particular fan of snowboarding (and maybe some skiing) and don’t mind consistently honing your skills before jumping into the hard stuff, ‘Steep’ might be what you’re looking for in a game.

An open beta will be available for PS4, XBox One, and PC from November 18-21 before 'Steep' launches worldwide December 2nd!

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