Hands-on: Trials Rising global reveal

Guest post by Paul Davies.

Stunt-biking at 60fps is what the Trials series has always stood for, with freedom to express ourselves as valiantly as possible to please the crowds. With Trials Rising, RedLynx hopes to offer more players a taste of this freedom at its finest, to fully appreciate its nuts and bolts.

Whether you’re a Trials veteran or relatively new to the game, once the basics are learned, it’s ingrained… like riding a bike, you might say. The problem until now, the way RedLynx sees it, has been that the familiar menu-style presentation drives a lot of players into a brick wall, owing to a narrow progression system. And so Trials Rising is about opening up the big experience to everyone, not just those who take pride in conquering the hardest difficulty.

The series makes its Nintendo Switch debut for one thing, which is the ideal opportunity to introduce more family-friendly, and more broadly community-oriented ideas. Just one quick note on Switch performance that fans will be glad to know is that all versions of the game – PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch – run at 60fps, allowing for a global, centralised Leaderboard.

During our hands-on time with Trials Rising at Ubisoft recently, the Switch version really did stand out owing to the convenience of setting up a quick two-player game, which looked so impressive on the portable screen. Also, the Switch version lends itself perfectly to one of the major new features: the Tandem bike. It brings so much collaborative fun to the game.

While the quad-bike in Trials Fusion (2014) was a ride worth taking, it did limit the game in some ways – RedLynx needed to ensure that all tracks were wide enough to accommodate it, for example. However, the Tandem, which requires two players to manage the performance of the stunt-bike, with two sets of handlebars, is as hilarious and/or hair-raising as two people can make it. While we didn’t have long to settle into the near-psychic level of coordination necessary, the constant tactical shout outs and laughter already made this a hit in our view.

Generally, it really does feel as though shackles have been removed for Trials Rising, or that the aging format feels more polished and up-to-date, in line with open-world trends. It does make a big difference choosing challenges from locations on a map, and being offered new challenges from charismatic NPC Sponsors, as opposed to selecting everything from a menu.

The intention is for players to visit locations that vary the types of goals, granting medals through Bronze, Silver and Gold. It’s possible to progress by meeting basic requirements unlocking new tracks and sponsors within a League. Once all the normal tracks and skill challenges have been conquered at the basic level, regional stadiums are unlocked that provide special challenges, including races for up to eight players (eight parallel lanes). Meet the requirements at the stadium, and a new League is unlocked, revealing more of the map.

RedLynx says that there are 120 tracks to find in the game, which is plenty. But if you want to talk big numbers, the expanded customisation options give players much to think about. In addition to an improved track editor, which comprises over 8000 objects with which to build (everything from previous games plus more besides) there are now bike and rider cosmetics to differentiate your avatar from the online-community crowd, with 1000s of decals to apply alongside rider poses and – of course – dance-moves. It’s important to remember, however, that all such customisation options for bikes and riders are purely cosmetic. There will be in-game purchases, but the crucial equipment – basically the bikes (Squid, Rhino, Mantis, Helium BMX, and miniature Donkey) – are unlocked via progress.

Before parting ways with Trials Rising for now, it’s worth saying how wonderful the game looks. The so-called ‘American Rookies’ (Rockies) appear so distinct from the future-city skyscrapers, and the Hollywood-style ‘In Da Movie’ sequences are suitably spectacular. Also, although RedLynx has upped the ante in terms of visual gloss, the team hasn’t lost its edge when it comes to humour, always prepared with a painful visual gag for riders that cross the finish line: fried, squashed, electrocuted, or smashed into a porta-loo to grab our attention.

Trials Rising is released on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch on 12 February.

If it has the letters RPG in it, I am there. Still battling with balancing trying to play every single game that grabs my interest, getting 100% in a JRPG, and devoting time to my second home in Azeroth.

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