Riders Republic may be one of the few games that we see in a long time that truly encapsulates some of the older, classic extreme sports games that so many grew up loving. There remains a soft spot in my heart for games such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, SSX 3, and 1080 Snowboarding. With Riders Republic building upon the back of Steep – another Ubisoft title that focused on being an open world, extreme snow sport adventure simulator – it hits just about all the right notes.
Developer & Publisher // Ubisoft
Platforms // PlayStation 4|5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
MSRP & Release Date //$39.99, Oct 28, 2021
Reviewed On //Xbox One X
There is a lot to discover and enjoy while going down snow-covered mountain peaks, dodging through rocky glaciers, flying through canyons, riding a rocket bike off a cliff, and quickly changing into a glider suit to race through the tops of trees of a temperate rainforest. There are definitely some “How do you do, fellow kids?” meme-worthy moments from character dialogue, but thankfully that fades away the more you play. Outside of that, there is not a whole lot to find fault in Riders Republic.
An Extreme Sports Fantasy Come True
The vast amounts of different biomes in Riders Republic, and subsequently the mass amount of different types of races in these biomes, makes for an almost never-ending list of fun things to do. Especially when you include different types of weather and temperatures, it really drives home the variety, which is an essential ingredient to any extreme sports game.
The race tracks in Riders Republic are intense, fun, and chaotic, in a good way. Even though you are usually racing against A.I. ghosts of other players, you are still able to bump into them and jostle for position on the track. You do not just pass right through them if they end up in your way.
The mad dash to get back up and head back down that slope, or rewind and try and make that intense corner flying with your jetpack gave me that extreme sport adrenaline rush I haven’t experienced in a long time.
The bumping around makes for a very entertaining race where most of the time you can’t help but laugh at the brutal fall or faceplant you may end up taking against a tree, as you see a few other characters do the same thing at the same time during the race. The mad dash to get back up and head back down that slope, or rewind and try and make that intense corner flying with your jetpack gave me that extreme sport adrenaline rush I haven’t experienced in a long time.
Just be sure to have a little bit of patience, the rewind system is not like the one found in Forza Horizon. Everything else is still happening as you are trying to get yourself situated back on track and racing again. Restarting the race or event is usually the best way to go if you mess up really badly.
The game allows you to practice some tricks at the bike park in the mountains before heading down to the red rock canyons to take on some special events. Working on those combos while in the park allows you to absolutely tear up the tracks at the events for some bonus points! It is a great way to tackle the secondary objectives during the race. The most fun, in terms of racing though, is the Mass Race Events.
Riders Republic and Player-mania!
Going up against dozens of other players in three separate races never stopped being fun. In each race on the Mass Race events, you switch between different sports. For a third of a race, you could start out doing a downhill mountain bike race, and then suddenly switch to a jet pack on the second leg of the race when you hit a special marker along the track. Then finally you could end up on skis to cap off the final leg of that first race. And that would be one of two races out of the Mass Race event.
It is an absolute blast, and a great way to progress quickly in multiple career paths. Riders Republic was reviewed on an Xbox One X, but it should be noted that it is not exactly the best experience on previous-gen hardware. It is very much in a playable state and runs well, but the loading distance of objects and lower framerate can make racing more difficult than it needs to be. Your reaction times have to be pretty spot-on for tight turns, and the track layout at times can be difficult to discern.
The best racing experience for me was the downhill bike races and the dangerous stunts along wooden tracks high up in the air amongst the trees. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, extreme mountain trail biking was something almost everyone experiences. I did quite a bit of it myself growing up, and having the same sensation of biking on those trails again in a video game, was something special. It is a great sign that the developers really did put a lot of heart into Riders Republic and are doing their best to provide a fun experience.
A Pink Rainbow Unicorn Riding a Surfboard!
The progression and gear system in Riders Republic is a great way to keep incentivizing players to partake in as many races with as little stress about winning as possible. Your experience system relies on obtaining gold stars through events and races that increase your career progression in those specific areas of racing, which nets you better gear to use. The gear is all tiered via numbers with additional predetermined stats that affect how the gear handles out in the environments.
The variability the gear stats provide a smart way to have a player want to come back to a race they have already done and try better than before. At least that’s how I found myself going about on the map. After obtaining a gear item that was way better than what I had at the start of the game, I replayed some areas and enjoyed working towards the bonus objectives for extra career progression.
The secondary objectives are not too tough, but they definitely become easier to obtain with better gear. Thankfully it is not a grind to get better gear. Just keep participating in new races in the specific category of sport that you like, and you will progress quite quickly. There is a lot to do out there, so there is no shortage of things to do to help you move forward.
Another fun aspect of Riders Republic is the character clothing and outfits you can obtain in the game. From stylish snowboarding gear to an outlandish giant pink unicorn, there is a lot to choose from to make sure your character is unique. You are also able to have a different outfit for each race type, allowing for a nice variety to switch through as you play.
That’s a Whole Lot of People
Even when you are done with almost everything, including the main story (which is simply doing all the events in Riders Republic) there is still the wide-open world to tear up. There are lots of collectibles and special gear to collect, as is the typical Ubisoft trend. Rather than feeling like the same old, same old, Riders Republic has something that very few other games have, a massive amount of active players also riding around the map.
This communal experience makes it so much more entertaining to travel aimlessly around in the open world. There are literally hundreds of other players ghost A.I. on the map at the same time as you, as well as a handful of players that are directly on your server. It really makes it feel like a lived-in world.
When you open up the world map and see all the moving icons for the first time, it is a little overwhelming. Seeing that many players, all having a blast in this giant playground at the same time, is pretty cool. There were a few times I would set myself up at the end of a large jump that players would do a lot of tricks from, and watch most of them crash into the ground in hilarious fashion. Soon though the temptation to do it yourself will set in, and off you go, with probably a hundred other players doing the same thing as you, every minute.
“Did I just pass a giant Giraffe..?”
This blend of having so many players exist in your world, without actually existing, added a layer to the gameplay of Riders Republic that I have not really experienced before. Sure, there is Forza Horizon that does it in a small fashion, but the sheer number of people is just incredible. It makes the world feel way more alive and joyful than it rightfully should be. It doesn’t matter what corner of the map you go to. Every single inch is covered with players racing, doing tricks, crashing, and making friends everywhere you go.
To top everything off, there is a pretty wicked soundtrack to go along with your wild adventures. You can choose from a variety of radio stations in the game and are able to choose a “Streamer Friendly” option in the settings menu if you are worried about copyrighted music. If not, you’ve got everything from Punk Rock to Hip Hop to keep you entertained while you cross that finish line or slam into a hillside.
So, where does it stand?
Riders Republic is a gem of a game, and most importantly it is simply just fun to play. It is not often we have the opportunity to play a sports game such as this one. Especially one that provides such a broad variety of experiences from the wild world of extreme sports. Thankfully it is done without trying to be a simulator as well. It is the perfect blend of making surfaces feel good to control your character on, without having it be too over the top.
From the vast amount of biomes to the abundance of races and variety of sports that you can enjoy, there is no end in sight with the number of shenanigans that you can pull off. Unfortunately, there is basically no story, and where there is a character chatting, they try a little hard to be “Hip” with the cool kids. Even then, Riders Republic is worth playing through if you have that extreme sports itch you need to scratch. This could very well be a new era of open-world sports growing as we know it.