Extreme sports are back in Ubisoft’s latest release Riders Republic (2021). In the vein of Ubisoft’s earlier game Steep (2016), Riders Republic, the unofficial sequel, combines various downhill extreme sports, all for the sake of that sweet adrenaline rush.
Those new to the racing genre shouldn’t find Riders Republic difficult to grasp, and seasoned gamers will find the gameplay a breeze. The game opens with a straightforward tutorial to the downhill modes and cycles you through each one until you have dabbled in each: downhill biking and bike freestyle tricks, snowboard/ski racing and tricks, and wingsuit mode with and without rockets. From there, players are left with an open world they can ride about in using any method of transportation they have to get to one competition to the next.
The opening introduction and tutorial also sets the mood for what you should expect for the entirety of the game. Character creation lets you choose crazy bold colors for your skin and hair. The characters you meet are all loud and proud bros, calling each other “dude” and using words like “rad” along with the expected enunciation. Often, this means the dialogue delivery is incredibly cringe. Yet, it can be said that each and every character always seems excited to see you. Characters interactions are also often spliced with TV-like introductions, as if the player is involved in a reality TV show within the Riders Republic world, giving players quick history and bios about anyone they meet. Though efficient and sometimes amusing, it does feel like a less genuine form of storytelling. Even with the over the top cast and TV formats, the lackluster story of Riders Republic doesn’t seem to go beyond the player attempting to achieve Legendary status and become a champion within the Republic extreme sports world.
The gameplay itself is standard fare within the racing world, but Riders Republic can give itself a pat on the back for its accessibility features. Alongside the basic controller mapping, there is a new accessibility menu within the options menu. When players first start up Riders Republic, the menu text-to-speech is already activated. It’s easy enough to turn on or off and fine-tune audio settings within the menu and change any time. For color-blind players, there are three filters available to fit their needs: Protanopia, Deuteranopia, and Tritanopia. For gameplay, players can choose to activate motion blur or field of view, or even trick assist. This can help make landing tricks automatic. If difficulty is a concern, the developers have included features like backtrack system that pauses the game and allows the player to rewind back in their gameplay to avoid crashes or failing tricks. Best of all, Zen mode is available from the main menu and lets players race or roam as they like; there’s no pressure of competition or unlocking events. Overall, Riders Republic does remarkably well in making sure their game is accessible for any player and at any difficulty, a move that all future games should take notice of.
The real thrills of Riders Republic come with the game’s first person point of view (POV) and the mass multiplayer sessions. While consoles are limited to 20 players for the mass races, computer players can see up to 50 players in a session. It truly captures the chaos of attempting to safely race your way down the trails, a move made harder if you’re attempting to score extra points with a trick or two. Paired with the first person POV, any player will find this racing mode to be an adrenaline inducing ride.
Riders Republic is not a complex game. At its heart, it is a typical racing game similar to the scope of various other recent releases in the racing genre. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable and accessible to any player. The races and events are replayable, and it isn’t boring to do so, not when the game rewards you regardless of your placing. It only encourages you to try to perfect each attempt to unlock better and better prizes. The end result means that Riders Republic is a solid contender in the racing world of games, because it welcomes anyone willing to try.
Reviewed on Xbox One.