I have always enjoyed sports games like SSX and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater growing up. Then, I got to play a bit of Steep when it was released back in 2016. My first impressions of Riders Republic were completely different from when I finally got to explore the game. Steep had elements that showcased the crazy extreme sports and Red Bull Signature Series sports, from paragliding to base jumping. Riders Republic is just that, plus pure insanity!
Since I have played these kinds of games before, I took an unusual approach and loaded up the free roam mode called “Zen Mode” first. This was basically a game mode that allows the players to try out all the different sports and different forms of transportation. The sports were very straightforward, with snowboarding, wingsuit gliding and cycling, to name a few. But then, the game gets wackier.
It has the option of having a rocket jetpack that allows players to fly around like they are Iron Man. Some other wacky racing options and ways to get around are the rocket skis and rocket bike, which are not ridiculously fast, but help to get around much quicker than using natural momentum and physics.
To make matters even more outlandish, I set the skiing option to “Funkies”, and I was immediately loaded with two branches for ski poles and two skis made of two planks of wood, ripped straight off a tree’s bark. My stomach could not contain the shenanigans this game brought.
“My stomach could not contain the shenanigans this game brought.”
Putting my laughter aside after seeing what Zen Mode had to offer for about an hour, I finally entered the Story Mode. The production of the storyline cutscenes are so overly produced I laughed and loved it. It really shows off the great sceneries and different terrains and makes me very jealous that I could not play it on PS5 or Xbox Series X|S with their next gen graphics. Trick shots and racing down a 1000-foot-tall mountain were stunning and reminded me of the way drones capture the real-life races I always see from Red Bull’s coverage.
One of the things that I enjoyed, and hope others will take advantage of, is the first-person view. I never expected this fast-paced action-sports game would thrive off first-person view the way car racing games like Forza Horizon 5. I thought doing tricks left and right, the brain would not be able to process everything, and I would get dizzy. Riders Republic is smarter than that.
Racing in first-person is about the same as a typical car racing game and when I started to do tricks, it pans out back to third-person almost seamlessly. It is like a quick pan-out from a body camera to a drone shot behind the player. At first, it felt jarring, but it is a lot better than experiencing tricks from first-person and your eyes cannot see if you will stick the landing when doing flips in the air.
“I would recommend that players new to this style of game calibrate the sensitivity of your toggle sticks…”
Tricks Assists is another feature I appreciated. A lot of other extreme sports games have always emphasized the proper way to land a trick, whereas this game has an option to add assistance to new players who may not be accustomed to properly finishing a full rotation trick mid-air. Also, no matter what place a rider comes in on any difficulty, there is always enough of a reward for your efforts.
I would recommend that players new to this style of game calibrate the sensitivity of your toggle sticks (if you are playing on a console or PC controller). Doing the stunt challenge in the beginning was very difficult to complete with the standard sensitivity.
What hooked me a lot from the start was the many quirky and ridiculous skins to unlock. If you want to wear a unicorn suit, you can do that! The game is quite expressive with its customization, unlocking unique gear and skins the more I played the game. It is also not too hard to unlock new things after newly played races.
The only thing that was disappointing about customization is that the character creation seemed kind of limited compared to other sports games like NHL 22 or Madden NFL 22. But I can see how the game pace is meant to push players to get into the story and races as fast as possible. Plus, the physical attributes do not affect the performance of the rider. There is an option to make your character have green skin, and you can bet a million dollars I had to create a green-skinned character.
“Riders Republic is a must-have…”
The main cast of characters, Suki and Brett, are flamboyant and very over-the-top as they teach players about how The Riders Republic (the map and events) works. The hub or gathering area is called “The Ridge”, which is a cool junction atop a mountain where riders can socially hangout or see what events are going on.
Brett was hilarious right from the start. He is like your friend who was popular for being a rebel teenager and was super cool for attending underground sports events. Now, Brett runs a burger and fries food truck who talks about his glory days and becomes your guide to progressing through the plot-related events.
Riders Republic may be called the spiritual successor to Ubisoft’s previous action-sports game, Steep. I would argue this is a revolutionized culmination of all action-sports games put into one jam-packed title. I love that it invites new players and the controls are not too difficult to learn as the tutorial thoroughly lays it out.
The storyline characters are the number one hype people a game can have. And to top it all off, Riders Republic offers a great outdoor adventure to discover a massively, visually breathtaking map. Riders Republic is a must-have for anyone who wants to either experience extreme sports vicariously or loves the thrill of a wild ride in a game.