- Rider's Republic offers an interesting mix of downhill biking, snowboard tricks, and flying with jetpacks
- There is a vast open world to explore with hours of content
- Not impressive graphically, but tons of fun
The Riders Republic closed beta started on the 23rd of August and allowed a select few players to get an early look at Ubisoft’s upcoming extreme sports game. I’ve been enjoying myself on the slopes ever since and am eager to share my impressions with you in this preview article.
📢 NEWS: Today, during Gamescom’s Opening Night Live Stream, they announced the beta to be open for all players until the 28th of August. Ride on, everyone!
Let’s first answer a simple question with a complicated response. What is Rider’s Republic? It’s what happens if Steep and The Crew 2 married and had a child with elements from both games showing up. It’s Ubisoft’s attempt to fill a gap in the downhill racing genre that previously really only had indie games like Descenders populating it.
Let’s start with the best part. The downhill racing is an absolute thrill and screenshots won’t do it justice. In fact, the entire game feels like one big motion blur with how fast things are going. Yet the controls are pretty accurate, no matter if you’re playing in third- or first-person mode and you’ll soon be making sharp turns and performing insane tricks after a jump over a cliff.
And should you make a mistake, there is no need to worry. While a tiny slip-up near the finish could end a 1-hour race (yes, really) in The Crew 2 and leave you frustrated, Rider’s Republic solves this by lending the rewind function that has been so incredibly useful in Forza Horizon games.
When you crash you can quickly press B to get back on your bike and when you miss a checkpoint, you can simply rewind to where you need. The big difference here is that even in single-player mode, rewinding does not affect the opponents, so while it’s extremely useful and often better than restarting the entire race, it’s best used sparingly.
Similar to The Crew 2, is the trio of activities. Next to downhill biking, you can also perform snowboard tricks on the slopes of a snowy mountain or fly a jetpack through gates above the maps you were riding down from just minutes ago.
Strap on your jetpack or hit the slopes
You’d expect them to go for a simple wingsuit, but you’d be wrong. Rider’s Republic instead lets you fly a fuel-powered jetpack that ironically doesn’t feel as fast as cycling down the mountains, but the variation is welcome.
Similarly, if you tire from racing all the time, you can equip your skis or a snowboard and see how many points you can rack up in trick attacks. The loading happens so fast on Xbox Series X, that changing between different events is only a few seconds away.
Variety is the name of the game and will be the key ingredient for keeping Riders Republic from feeling stale after hours of playing. And in true Ubisoft fashion, there is always something just within reach that will make you want to keep going.
Speaking of changing it up, fans of The Crew 2 will be happy to see the Vehicle wheel returning. In Riders Republic, you can free roam and go hunting for collectibles and you’re able to switch gear at a second’s notice. See a snowy slope? use your skis. Want to go uphill instead, switch to the snowmobile instead. It’s fast, it’s fun and it’s completely frictionless.
If you don’t want to travel to a checkpoint the hard way, you can always just bring up the map and instantly drop to a point nearby. The world is yours to explore and there is always something to do nearby. And when you get there, there will be rewards.
From earning stars by fulfilling specific requests to gaining levels or unlocking new gear that will make you go faster, the possibility to get addicted and lose a ton of hours is real. Completionists will have their hands full with this one.
In single-player games, part of the reward is usually unlocking the next cut-scene or progressing through the story. And while Riders Republic has a decent amount of focus on story, the characters are just a bit too close to being caricatures for my own liking.
I bring up the story only at the end of this preview and that’s because I wasn’t very impressed with it. The characters all try too hard to be cool, like a father trying to impress their kids, wanting to convince them that they are still “cool”.
I may not be much of a judge, as a 33-year-old father of two myself, but there were plenty of cringy moments that missed the mark for me. Experience may vary depending on what you find funny, but I just wanted the cutscenes to be over and get back to racing down dusty hills as soon as possible.
Final thoughts on Riders Republic
- Great sense of speed
- Lots to do
- Great features like backtrack
- Story and acting doesn't really impress
- Not very impressive visually
Having played the Riders Republic beta for around seven hours, I can already tell the full game will take many more hours to complete and it will be a ton of fun. Ubisoft has learned from past mistakes in previous games and added some features like Backtrack or implemented fan favourites like the instant switching between different gear.
It’s shaping up to be a fantastic release for the end of the year and I look forward to getting my hands on the full release.
*Disclaimer: Previewed on Xbox Series X. Beta code provided by the publisher.