Review: Riders Republic (PC)

7

Good

Ubisoft has been trying to tap into the extreme sports video gaming market ever since they launched Steep back in 2016. While that game was pretty decent, and it had a sizable enough player-base, it had quite a few shortcomings that prevented it from becoming a truly mainstream success. The game felt a bit directionless and had a rather “steep” learning curve to it. Now in 2021, we’ve got Riders Republic, Ubisoft’s latest attempt at the adrenaline-filled sports market. But is it any better than its spiritual (even though Ubisoft never called it that) successor?

Once you’ve managed to get past the introductions of the game, you’re dropped into a very big, and very beautiful open world to explore.

Welcome to the Republic

The answer to that question is mostly, yes. Riders Republic is a lot easier to just pick up and play, and that makes it a lot more fun straight from out of the box. So, what is it exactly? Well, Riders Republic features a bunch of different extreme sports such as downhill mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, wingsuits, rocket wings and more. The different events are dotted across the world similar to how the Forza Horizon series works and can involve either racing for position or doing some crazy tricks and stunts for points.

Once you’ve managed to get past the introductions of the game, you’re dropped into a very big, and very beautiful open world to explore. Initially, only a handful of events and disciplines are available, but as you progress and collect more stars, more and more unlocks. Stars are sort of your rank. They are not necessarily awarded for winning, but rather for doing specific objectives such as finishing under a specific time or doing five unique tricks during a race.

Doing all the cool tricks and flips and spins while going stupidly fast is, thankfully, rather intuitive.

Jumping in and doing the different races and events is easy enough and doing all the cool tricks and flips and spins while going stupidly fast is, thankfully, rather intuitive. Sure, to become really good at it you will need to learn the different combos, but at least you don’t require a degree in physics to pull these off; Which is how it can sometimes feel in games like this. You can also make it as easy or challenging as you want since it does offer different modes, as well as an auto-landing option for beginners or more casual players.

The Republic is a social place

Riders Republic obviously does feature a variety of multiplayer options. These include a Versus Mode, Trick Battles and the craziness that is a Mass Race. Versus Mode is pretty self-explanatory: These are races or events, against other individuals. Trick Battles is a 6v6 mode where you try and gain dominance by ‘out tricking’ the other team and gaining territory in an arena full of ramps and rails. Mass Race, on the other hand though, is where up to 64 players join in on a three-part race of… well, madness – it’s pure marvellous mayhem having so many people racing against each other in a relatively small space. These events are timed, multi-sport events, which means it switches between different disciplines at certain parts of the race. It is crazy fun (even if I never won) and definitely worth doing.

While the core gameplay loop is fun, it can get a bit repetitive, especially when you play alone.

So far, so good right? Well, not quite. While the core gameplay loop is fun, it can get a bit repetitive, especially when you play alone. I think messing around with your friends in Riders Republic is ideal, but this was not the case for me, and it got old very fast. The game has a certain challenge to it, and there are players out there who thrive on the challenge of perfecting the score or riding an immaculate race, and while I might dabble in that for a bit, it is ultimately not for me. That doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had, just keep this in mind when considering a purchase. You might have to convince your friends to join in as well to get maximum value out of this particular package.

The dark side of the Republic

While I did have a fairly enjoyable time with the game, there are a few things that really prevent me from liking this game as much as I was hoping to. First of all, Riders Republic has (as is expected) a central hub where you can meet up with friends, get some contracts or bounties you need to complete and join multiplayer races and events. I have no issue with this place, and it is fine. It is a social space, and as is often the case, it is also a place where you see other players and the swag they might be rocking. The big issue here is that while the game does offer cosmetics and costumes for in game currency, the really good stuff is locked behind a paywall of real money. This is nothing new for Ubisoft games of late, but the nature of the game makes these things more desirable. It somehow didn’t bother me in previous outings because I don’t care about my Dani Rojas looking like Altaïr in Far Cry 6. But here, where the story is less important – I might actually want to have a signature look.

The big issue here is… the really good stuff is locked behind a paywall of real money

Another issue I have is that I just didn’t like the characters of the game. Each one of them annoyed me with their speech, characteristics, and mannerisms. All of them keep going on about how knarly, or how sick something everything was. And while this may sound like, and maybe even be, just a personal preference, the overtly ‘I-want-to-be-hip’ jargon sometimes even made it difficult to understand what I actually had to do next. And finally, the music of the game feels a bit dated. I hadn’t heard some of the songs in a decade, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing and I realise licensing costs money – the selection just felt too limited. And I do believe it’s another aspect where they could’ve done better and I was hoping for something a little more engaging.

The Riders Republic

Riders Republic feels like it has a ton of potential to be something really special. There are clearly a lot of people that love these sorts of games, and with the right adjustments and attention, it can go a long way. It looks good, plays well, with very few technical issues it is an enjoyable experience overall – particularly if you can play it with a group of friends. It appears that Ubisoft plans on supporting this game for the long haul, and if that’s the case we can definitely expect updates, events and more content going forward and so there is quite a bit to build on here. Just please Ubisoft, dial it back on the microtransactions…

Good

  • Massive and beautiful open world to explore and do things | Fair amount of Fun | Lots to do

Bad

  • Not a fan of the characters | Too many microtransactions

Summary

A solid start to what is clearly set out to be a live service game. It is easy enough to pick up and play and there is definitely something for people that like these sorts of games. Unfortunately, the biggest downside is the aggressive monetization, with some of the best looking cosmetics being locked behind a paywall, something I really don't like to see in a full-priced video game.
7

Good

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