- 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
- It fills an extreme sports void that the AAA industry has left vacant for way too long
Riders Republic is Ubisoft’s response to the huge gap of extreme downhill racing in the videogames industry. While indies like Descenders and Lonely Mountains: Downhill have covered the downhill biking, Ubisoft also adds in snowboarding, jetpacks and wingsuits for anyone seeking that extreme sports rush in a AAA game.
We’ve been excited about this game ever since the closed beta (as you could tell from our preview) and now it’s finally here and ready to be played by the masses. And we do mean that literally as the mass events seem like a huge draw to the game with 64 players racing to the finish line. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and take this one slope at a time.
A massive open world to explore
While it has the large open-world Ubisoft games are known for, it’s not as massive as the entirety of the USA like what The Crew 2 tried to accomplish. Although it also tries to include elements from well-known biomes across the world, Riders Republic condenses them into a more manageable map.
You’ll have rocky mountains you can wingsuit through like threading a needle, snowy slopes to perform snowboard tricks on, and forest-like areas with tracks nearly as wide as your bike to race your BMX through.
What impresses the most is how smooth the transitioning from one type of gear to the next goes, allowing you to switch from a bike jump into a jet-pack on the fly and launch yourself to the next objective at blistering speeds.
Add into this the amazingly fast teleportation and you’ll never have to wait too long between events. It’s downright incredible how quickly you can get from one side of the map to the other by using the map and there is not a loading screen in sight on the Xbox Series X.
Next to an amazing amount of events, there is also a lot to explore. There are 23 stunts to perform, 45 landmarks to learn more about and 11 secrets to find which will each reward you with some brand new gear.
You also find up to 500 Riders Republic balloons that will reward you with some cash and a star for every five you find. Collecting them all will certainly take some time but the nice thing is that they are also visible during races. Because these do not appear on the map, however, you’ll need an external guide to locate them all.
There’s a story to tell?
Weirdly enough, Riders Republic decided to include a narrative element where you’re some kind of extreme sports prodigy who’s following into the footsteps of an older legend. 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 young at heart.
I may not be much of a judge, as a 33-year-old father of two who often goes for the punny dad-jokes, but there were plenty of cringy moments that missed the mark for me. Experience may vary depending on what you find comical, but I just wanted the cutscenes to be over and get back to racing down dusty hills as soon as possible.
Luckily the deeper you get into the game, the less you’ll hear from them and the story elements take a backseat to the action, as it rightfully should be in games of this genre. You’ll only hear them check in every now and then through a phone call.
If you level each category enough by grinding for experience, you’ll unlock BOSS events. I was expecting these to have some kind of narrative pay-off at least but other than a short introduction over the phone about the brand that’s sponsoring the event, it doesn’t really lead to anything.
I feel conflicted about this because, on one hand, I didn’t like the characters all that much, but on the other hand, I was expecting some kind of closure that never happened. Perhaps when I’ve beaten ALL the boss events I’ll get a credits scene. If so, I’ll update it here.
No one is picking up a game like Riders Republic for the story. The only real questions here are how fun it is to play and how the sensation of speed will deliver us thrills. And boy, it does not disappoint in this department.
The game moves at breakneck speeds at all times and you can even switch to a first-person view whenever you want to increase the sensation. There’s nothing quite as exciting as biking down a narrow trail and dodging trees as your life depends on it.
This is especially impressive when you’re playing one of the mass events and you see 63 other players cannon-balling down the slopes, all looking to rank high in the triad of events.
Rider’s Republic is always focused on the fun factor, it leans into the silly things and comes out a better game because of it. There are wacky outfits like dinosaur costumes or giraffe masks, and special gear called Funkies that not only look awesome but can totally alter your playstyle.
This ranges from a plane wing replacing your jetpack, a cardboard plane instead of a wingsuit, or a pizza delivery bike that drops pizzas everywhere and has cringy Italian voice acting. But there are also some really cool ones, with my favorite being the rocket-powered skis that propel you up the slopes and make it very easy to get around.
Challenging but forgiving at the same time
Riders Republic isn’t an easy game if you’re playing on the pro difficulty or facing other players and it will constantly throw additional challenges at you that may seem impossible at first. But while all of these daunting options are available, they’re never enforced.
I often defaulted to the easiest difficulty (which results in just a bit less experience upon completing the event) and never bothered too much about falling or using the useful BACKTRACK feature.
Now, for players familiar with how Forza Horizon implements this, a fair warning: while the BACKTRACK feature can be activated at all times, it doesn’t affect other players, not even the offline versions. And if you’re playing an event where you have to beat the clock, it will not stop the clock while you are rewinding.
This wouldn’t be such an issue, but it IS very easy to miss certain checkpoints. Riders Republic always shows the next two checkpoints ahead, but if the second one is straight in front of you and the first one is just outside of your peripheral vision, you will have to backtrack and it will cost you time or even that optional challenge you were going for.
Luckily Riders Republic is a big fan of playing the game is more important than winning with completing an event at any position will still reward you with plenty of experience to level up the current sports genre and you’ll get a gold star simply for trying. It goes without saying, however, that getting the secondary objectives will accelerate your progression by a large factor.
Before we dig into the visual aspect, I feel the need to bring up the excellent soundtrack. It’s not often that a licensed soundtrack makes me giddy with joy but Riders Republic managed to do just that on many occasions.
From perfectly matched serene music when skydiving between rocky canyons, to actually turning up the ROCK factor to eleven with The Offspring, one of my favorite bands ever.
While licensed music can play on the familiarity aspect and win players over, it also poses a risk. Youtubers will need to share in ad revenue on any content they provide and Twitch streamers could even risk getting banned if they get too many copyright strikes against them.
It’s a problem that has been rearing its ugly head more and more in the content creator world, but that’s a topic for a dedicated article I intend to write at a later point in time.
Pretty from afar, but far from pretty
Onwards to the visual feast. Other than what the header of this section may lead you to believe, Riders Republic can be a great-looking game, especially when you’re working with the built-in photo mode.
But it’s still an online game with a massive amount of on-screen players from all over the world and some compensation was necessary to make that possible.
When you stop dead in your tracks, the world looks great. When you’re moving through it at 160 miles per hour, it will be too blurry to notice… But it’s between those two extremes that the game shows a few technical shortcomings, with textures loading in only a few meters ahead and foliage popping into existence a few times.
There is even some wildlife that populates the game and while it’s a step up from the cardboard cutouts used in The Crew 2, it’s still not something you’d like to catch in a close-up.
Plenty of things to customize
If you’re the creative type, you can design your own content in Riders Republic. Draw out paths down a mountain and set a time to beat or score to improve on and other people can participate in your custom events. It’s something that is always welcomed and provided infinite possibilities, but not something I’d dabble in myself.
What I do always appreciate are ways to express myself through my avatar’s design and clothing, and I’m glad to say there is some very cool gear to purchase and you don’t necessarily need to spend any additional real-life cash.
Just take a look at this awesome spider backpack that lights up in the dark. If you’ve got a good eye, you can even spot the Halloween-themed pumpkin helmet I have equipped.
The variety is a bit lacking at the moment though, you have daily deals and weekly items to browse, but I was expecting a much larger choice of gear. Perhaps that will still improve as the game will be playable to the public for a longer period of time, but until then it’s at least good to know that the designs are as good-looking as this.
As for your gear itself, leveling up will reward you with new bikes and snowboards and such and if you complete certain optional elements like the sponsor contracts or the Shack Daddy Bandit quests, you can even earn time-limited unique stuff that looks mighty impressive.
How long to beat and complete
There is not really a moment where you’ll see the credits roll and it will feel like you’ve beaten the main campaign of Riders Republic. But if you’re solely going for the five different Boss Events, I’d say it takes around 20 hours to beat the game.
If you’re looking to 100% the game or at least go for the 1000G worth of achievements, however, you can easily triple that amount of time. There are some very grindy achievements, like completing 50 Mass Events. And while you’d expect to get achievements for finding all landmarks and relics, you’ll need to find at least 150 of the 500 hidden RR balloons as well, which are hidden across the massive map.
Lastly, there may just be a skill barrier to overcome, as one achievement requires you to complete 20 out of 23 possible stunt events and I had to chicken out of 4 of them already.
Add into this the user-generated content and any DLC that may arrive at a later time, and you’re looking at a typical Ubisoft experience that will get you 100 hours of fun or more.
Final thoughts on Riders Republic
- It's fun, it's fast and it's got content to last
- The licensed soundtrack is absolutely killer
- There is hardly a loading screen in sight. Smooth sailing all-around
- Not the prettiest next-gen game, but not bad-looking by any means
- Secondary objectives are often too difficult
- Checkpoints can be hard to spot in certain events, causing unnecessary restarts
FINAL SCORE: 4/5
Riders Republic satisfies any need for speed you may have and fills the extreme sports void that the AAA industry has left vacant for way too long. It’s fun, it’s not afraid to be an actual game, and leans into the silly things that keep the experience fresh and it has dozens of hours worth of content.
The speed at which you can chain one event into the next one is nothing short of impressive and it’s one of the fastest loading open worlds I’ve ever had the joy of exploring. Add a killer soundtrack into the mix and you’ve got a success formula that is a few steps up from Ubisoft’s previous attempt at a similar game with Steep.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on Xbox Series X. Review copy provided by Ubisoft.