I was sceptical about an always-online multiplayer extreme sports game initially. Not just are action sport titles less frequent in the current era, but an MMO? It’s never been done. Thankfully, Riders Republic seems to deliver on what it set out to do.
It brought me back to the wistful times of PS2-era extreme sports titles, while still managing to benefit from next-gen visuals and physics, as well as its online elements. Mostly.
Riders Republic Review: Gameplay
Riders Republic is an always-online extreme sports title featuring biking, skiing, snowboarding, paragliding, wingsuiting and jetpack flying, with BMX set to produce within the first year from the game. It was developed by Ubisoft Annecy, the same team that released 2022’s winter sports game, Steep, and takes heavy inspiration like a pseudo-sequel.
Players can seamlessly switch between these sports outside world, no matter where they're, even mid-jump. Wish to fly as much as the greatest snowcapped mountain you'll find, frontflip down it on a bike and land on a snowboard? You are able to! The game also includes a ‘Career’ way of each one of the different sports, side activities, multiplayer modes, challenges and more.
The open world is known as “The Riders Republic”, or just “The Republic”, which is where the game gets its namesake. The map is separated into seven regions and could be fully traversed by any means you desire. There’s Yosemite, which features an array of different biomes contrasted together. Mammoth Mountain, filled with snow-covered peaks and areas perfect for snowboarding and skiing. Grand Teton, which features an incredibly high mountain and glaciers. Sequoia, which is decorated with tall pine trees and extremely fun to scale on a single from the game’s many bikes. Zion is hilly, steep along with a blast to glide through. Bryce Canyon features tricky and dangerous landscapes, while the Canyonlands serve as an arid, flat region for cruising around.
The Republic could be freely and casually explored offline within the game’s Zen Mode, but any main or side activities require player to be actively online. Side activities include ‘Landmarks’, that are picturesque locations perfect for the game’s Photo Mode, ‘Stunts’, technical classes for each sport, ‘Relics’, Easter eggs that award ‘Funkie Gear’ (fun tools to be used within the Republic) and ‘Collectibles’, that are balloons hidden over the map. Every activity in the game, including side activities and multiplayer modes, awards Stars. The lifetime total of Stars appears permanently next to every player’s name and unlock new opportunities, items and equipment at different milestones.
After a while of exploring between Events (more about that later), I felt such as these side activities were completely outshone by the Career and Multiplayer options. Landmarks looked good, but they are mostly scenes you'd see in the Events, regardless. The collectables mostly felt weak and pointless to gather, especially since they all look the identical and don’t outright detail what you'll get from collecting them. Relics were worth doing to get fun Gear to use in the open world, however i didn’t find myself actively going to search for them. Stunts weren’t my bag, either, but I could definitely see them attractive to more technical players.
You might find others absolutely everywhere throughout The Republic, however, the riders the thing is are mostly ghost data forged in the gameplay of real players. They’re essentially real people, just not playing in real-time. It’s impressive technology and still seems to result in the world feel alive and even the easiest of tasks more exciting. Cycling along a mountain while a person in a unicorn suit on a jetpack faceplants in to the ground before me definitely spices some misconception. Don’t worry, you’ll also come across lots of players playing in real-time, too, and Riders Ridge, the game’s hub is always filled with them. Being unable to take part in the majority of the game offline can be a disadvantage to some, but I felt that the feeling of an energetic world and individuality truly make it worth it.
To arrive at the bread and butter from the game, the Career Events, players will have to traverse through The Republic to reach them. Fast travel is definitely an option, but the player still will need reached the area before they can take advantage of that. You can use Helicopter Tickets to go absolutely wherever you want on the map, but at the cost of 1000 Bucks, the game’s currency earned from playing. It may sound inconvenient, but I discovered that it really works very well. Time spent travelling between events was enjoyable and allowed me to appreciate the gorgeous landscapes crafted by the game’s developers in a slower pace, which I probably would’ve otherwise ignored to advance in my career.
The ‘Careers’ themselves have a quantity of ‘Events’ and some ‘Big Events’, which are just like real-world major sporting events of the same name, such as Red Bull Homerun. Events are unique courses that always just require getting to the finish line, but additionally have ‘Secondary Objectives’, for example finishing a course having a certain quantity of points or pulling off a trick without crashing, that reward extra Stars for completing them.
Every course hanging around was enjoyable and even though some were similar to each other, they were never too repetitive. There are currently 5 different careers: Bike Race, Bike Tricks, Snow Race, Snow Tricks and Air, with a combined total of 114 Events and 22 Big Events. The ‘Stars’ system works well and had me challenging myself to earn more through side objectives. Through this, I additionally noticed how good I was improving and progressing.
The players you compete against consist purely of ghost data of other players which have taken part within the same event in the past. I had been a little disappointed initially when i first found this out, but wound up preferring it, eventually. The ghosts feel like real players, making mistakes and crashing into things only a human could, and mean that you don’t have to wait for matchmaking any time you want to try a celebration. You are able to, however, play against friends should you invite these to your party, even cross-platform, which may be turned off for whatever reason.
The rewards for playing Careers were mostly straightforward upgrades of the respective Gear, but do have some variety in their benefits and drawbacks. It doesn’t overcomplicate things for that casual player, but nonetheless offers the fine-tuning more hardcore players would expect.
Multiplayer, Extra Modes & Challenges
‘Riders Ridge’, the region bang-smack in the middle of the map, works as a hub. Here, the player can access all current multiplayer modes, too the ‘Tricks Academy’, which both teaches and permits the player the practice tricks, which was extremely useful.
The first multiplayer mode is ‘Free For All’, which is a 12 player FFA racing event. There’s currently additionally a ‘Welcome Playlist’ that has Shackdaddy Bandit events, which are over-the-top races featuring Funkies and special scenarios.
Matchmaking can take a good couple of minutes between games, sometimes up to 10, which can be frustrating when you just want to get out there and race, but you can explore The Republic while you wait. Players are put into ‘Divisions’ based on their experience and skill, but you’re often instructed to expand your matchmaking parameters anyway to locate a match. There’s additionally a weekly level, with various rewards every week, providing an incentive to return to the mode.
I found myself mostly staying away from Free For All. It became monotonous and far less exhilarating than simply playing a racing Event. In all truth, the active players felt exactly the same to their ghost counterparts. The limited-time Shackdaddy playlist is definitely fun, though. Racing down incredibly steep slopes with 11 others in Panda costumes with planks of wood on their feet is definitely a lot of fun.
‘Tricks Battle’ is another multiplayer mode, which is surprisingly similar to Turf Wars in Splatoon. Two groups of 6 face off against one another to assert parts of a roadmap by performing tricks in it. The overall trick score is what determines the winner, but capturing districts multiplies the number of points gained for your team. This was an entertaining and different mode, but suffered the same fate as Free For those because of long matchmaking times and also the singular map at launch.
Finally, within the multiplayer department, there’s Mass Race. Every so often, you’ll get a message that a Mass Race is going to start and have around 4 minutes to go in by travelling to Riders Ridge. This can be a colossal scale race with up to 64 people on current generation consoles and PC, while Xbox One and PS4 are tied to an optimum 20. This race covers every current sport hanging around, switching in between each one at ‘switch gates’ mid-race which last 3 rounds.
Mass Race is something every Riders Republic player should experience at least once. It’s absolute maniacal chaos and the most fun I’ve been on the sport this far. Unfortunately, however, it wears off. Mass Race is practically identical each time, in the courses towards the commentator, who's still brilliantly energetic and hilarious, repeating the very same lines. Whereas I did previously drop whatever I had been doing to become listed on, Now i have a tendency to neglected, unless my current Contract or Challenge requires me to play.
All multiplayer modes undeniably have huge potential but they are struggling with a restricted launch. I have without doubt the future seasons will amend this, though. The current roadmap looks promising and the majority of content is going to be free for those who own the bottom game.
Players can get Sponsors from real-world brands, such as Red Bull and Ford. Each offers three daily Contracts, that are passive objectives that reward Bucks. Completing enough contracts can lead to ranking up, which rewards exclusive cosmetics, Gear or missions from that company, on top of much more Bucks.
Sponsors are certainly a welcome feature and supply an element of choice and individuality using their company players. For those who have a popular brand, you can represent them, or perhaps would like to reap a particular bike you had your skills on. It both keeps the game fresh and provides extra incentives throughout your gameplay.
Saving the best for last; Shackdaddy Bandit Challenges and Events. Weekly occurrences of wacky Events and challenges with exclusive, limited-time rewards. Delivering food on a delivery bike, racing rocket-powered Gear across canyons and even an Event that applies an old-timey black and white filter and it has the gamer racing on classic, no-frills skis. Shackdaddy Bandit Events are pure, chaotic fun with new ones each week, I’m bound to be coming back for more.
Tricks and Controls
Players can perform a variety of tricks intricate tricks on bikes, as well skis and snowboards, either for fun in order to accrue points in the game’s various modes. The way you perform tricks depends on your controller preset, which can be changed anytime within the settings.
‘Racer’ allows full control of your camera and straightforward flip and spin tricks could be pulled off with buttons yet others by holding either, or both, of the triggers and pushing the left or right stick in a single of four directions. ‘Trickster’ offers more control using the sticks to jump, but with the tradeoff that the player doesn't have camera control and, instead, has to depend on the game’s automatic camera, which I’ve had no challenge with to date. There’s even the ‘Steep’ option, which utilizes the classic Steep controls of utilizing the triggers and bumpers to leap and the left stick to perform tricks.
Tricks are incredibly satisfying to pull off and easy to do, but hard to master, which is a common theme within this game. Improving at performing bike tricks means you’ll also get better at ski and snowboard tricks, but in a way that each sport still manages to feel unique.
There will also be choices for landing, grinding and air control both in bike and snow sports. You are able to choose automatic grinding or landing, with the punishment of not because of the extra points you would’ve gotten should you did them manually. Air control simply enables you to take control of your Gear mid-air, that is how the game refers back to the tools used in each sport.
Overall, the controls feel near-perfect to me. The handling on all equipment is a delight and tricks are often performed and feel satisfying to land, but nonetheless give a complex element to understand, if you undertake to. You can choose how you want to play and fine-tune or relax as much as you want.
First and foremost; biking. My favorite area of the game. The bikes feel like bikes should feel. The handling, the rate, the physics, even the sound. It has the perfect quantity of realism, without being too realistic enough where the game suffers correctly. There have been times where I wanted to rush downstairs and embark on my very own, simply not pulling a 1080 off a huge ramp quite just yet.
There are ‘Bike Race’ events, which are either road or downhill races and ‘Bike Trick’ events that focus on building up a score with huge drops or fast tricks. There's also ‘Funkies’, that are mostly just for fun and contain things like ice cream and even exercise bikes.
Ski and Snowboards are bundled together in to the ‘Snow’ category and either may be used in most cases, apart from specific Events. The controls from biking pass down to snow sports, but, as stated previously, they certainly still feel unique and merely as satisfying and enjoyable to control. The pull from the different levels of snow and exactly how it interacted with Gear was fulfilling and impressive.
Air sports are Riders Republic’s weakest link but can be fun typically. The ‘Rocketwing’, which is essentially a high-speed jetpack, feels fantastic to jet through the sky in initially, especially exploring The Republic, but the novelty slowly wears off after a while. There aren't any tricks to perform, simply flying through hoops from the to B, while attempting to narrowly attempting to miss objects to rack up points. The wingsuit has got the same gameplay, but is less enjoyable due to the speed and turning. Luckily, it ignores most laws of aerodynamics and physics and can occasionally have courses it excels at, but they’re few and far between.
The great thing about Riders Republic is the amount of choice. Should you don’t want to participate in wingsuit Events, you don’t need to. You are able to concentrate on what you want to do, while being able to observe what others do around you, too. If you want to relax and cruise around the environment, you can. If you want to concentrate on the intricacies of tricks and bike stats, the planet is your oyster. The opportunity to get (almost) straight back onto your feet following a crash or rewind if you want to makes the game much more enjoyable and fast-paced, but nonetheless punishes where essential to respect high-skilled players.
Customisation is really a double-edged sword in Riders Republic. Incredible, detailed and fun costumes can be found, however the most of good costumes can only be bought for ‘Republic Coins’, that are real-world currency microtransactions, or are incorporated with the Gold or Ultimate edition from the game. The cosmetics that are purchasable with Bucks, which are earnable in-game, are mostly generic.
In my Five days of playing, I’ve only been compelled to buy one item, which was an admittedly very cool spider backpack for Halloween, however this was an anomaly. Every other cosmetic that appealed to me was locked behind real-world money, that was really disappointing, especially considering the cost of the game and Year 1 Pass totalling $99.99 RRP.
Gear can also be disappointing in the customisation aspect, but for a different reason. All Gear is a color scheme that's completely unchangeable. There are special “painted” Gear, but the low stats mean they become pushed to never be utilized again. To be able to paint your Gear is one thing this game desperately needs, particularly with the possible lack of interesting things to spend Bucks on.
Riders Republic Review: Visuals, Audio and Performance
Visuals and Audio
Riders Republic is incredibly visually impressive in 4K HDR. In the individual blades of grass and flowers towards the way snow blankets the ground and mountaintops. The environment is interactable and changes depending on the weather; snow sticks to clothes and tires, the floor gets wet from rain and the sun glistens off of it. Tires make marks in the ground and push the snow, dust clouds are kicked up and dry environments cause you to wish to drink an ice-cold glass of water.
Humans would be the only place the game suffers visually. Faces are uncanny and don’t differ much and facial hair looks unnatural. Hands are strangely disproportionate, too. Luckily, nearly all players fully cover their heads with the many helmets and head items available, all of which are modelled well and are incredibly detailed.
The soundtrack is great, having a wide range of rock and hip-hop beats that fit the game’s vibe perfectly and, again, take me to the PS2-era of sports games, like Tony Hawk Underground, that shaped the background music tastes of the large amount of us today. The sounds of the environment and Gear are also perfect and aid in the immersion and overall feel of the game. Even individual bikes may differ in sound!
Other than probably the character dialogue, which sounds like it tries way too hard to be ‘hip’ and ‘fresh’, you will find absolutely no complaints in the sound department.
I played Riders Republic on Xbox Series X at 4K with HDR enabled on the 60hz monitor. The game was silky smooth with no noticeable drops, even in demanding moments, like Mass Races. However, Xbox Series X experienced soft-locks and crashes at launch which are still ongoing during the time of writing. Its not all player is experiencing them, however i have experienced around eight instances where I’ve had to fully restart my Xbox and merely several crashes since starting the game around the 27th October.
Players that purchased Riders Republic via the Epic Games Store will also be experiencing frequent crashes, or aren’t able to launch the game whatsoever. PlayStation 5 and other platforms don’t seem to share these issues, however. This review will be updated with any future developments.
Riders Republic Review: The Verdict
Riders Republic is an enjoyable game that offers a wide range of exhilarating and different activities that mostly take advantage of its ‘always online’ gameplay model, but additionally is affected with several shortcomings. The planet feels alive, the Events are a blast and the game looks gorgeous. However, some aspects of the sport really are a little lacking at launch, namely the multiplayer modes, customisation and air sports. Although, the current state of the game, the possibility shown and the roadmap planned out leaves me certain that the game can evolve in to the ultimate extreme sports title over time.
While the most of interesting cosmetics are locked behind microtransactions, Riders Republic offers bang because of its buck with the polished feel of the different gear, the amount of fun events, as well as the content planned ahead.
Riders Republic is available now on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PS4, PS5, Amazon Luna and Google Stadia.