What do you do when you’re a massive gaming company that’s developed a loved action-sports franchise and the technology and knowledge of how to make it bigger and better? Add bicycles. Riders Republic launches in just two months, and the official Riders Republic beta has been underway for a few days now providing us with the opportunity to play this open-world mash-up of even more extreme sports than the Steep franchise offered. With 64-player mass races and an always-online vibrid world, Riders Republic could be the ultimate playground in this generation of gaming.
The Riders Republic beta runs you through all the basics, slowly unlocking each different sports type, and actually includes almost the entire game if you have enough time to play it. It feels quite similar to Steep, but we also got The Crew vibes, particularly in a lot of the races where the sport type changes during them. Players are introduced to the main hub which is actually quite simple in its design before being thrusted into the huge open-world which features seven unique biomes from across the United States of America. There are plenty of snow, forest, canyon and hill areas to explore across the map allowing you to test out all the different modes of transport and truly feel lost, but there are also some great hubs where we expect players will gather to show off their tricks and gear.
Riders Republic looks like it will have a large focus on vanity items, customising how you look, your emotes, and more. Typically, there are two kinds of currency in the game. The cash you earn in-game comes quite freely, while the premium Republic Coins can be purchased with real money. In the Riders Republic beta, all items in the store could be purchased using either currency, but we wouldn’t guarantee that will always be the case. It will be interesting to see what other ways Ubisoft monetises Riders Republic, but hopefully the game remains equal for both hardcore and casual players wanting to jump in.
The leveling system appears to be quite similar to The Crew 2, with some players already reaching upwards of 250 stars in the beta. Each star level earns you cash and other items, with every few levels unlocking something more special in the game. While you start with just a bicycle, before long you’ll be switching between it, skis, snowboard, wingsuit and more. Handling felt a little odd at first, particularly when wingsuiting, but we found that while each sport is easy to pick up and play, there’s a steep learning curve if you’re wanting to master them.
Riders Republic also has a difficulty system which will test even the most experienced Steep player. All events grant players bonus stars for completing objectives, and we noticed they all had one for completing the event on expert mode which has the rewind feature disabled. This not only means that only the best will proceed, but also means that there’s going to be a lot of heart-ache and controllers thrown across the room on certain events.
While most of the events can be played with other players’ avatars instead of online, the coolest feature of Riders Republic is obviously the mass race that has been featured in every trailer of the game that we’ve seen. The Riders Republic beta started with just 32-player mass races, but Ubisoft has since increased it to 64 and it really is as chaotic as we expected it to be. There are definitely still some teething issues that need to be smoothed out, hopefully between now and launch, such as players bouncing around as the game catches up with everyones latency, but there has never been anything like it before, and it’s definitely a gaming experience not to be missed.
Ubisoft has long been adventurous with their titles, morphing one franchise into another, adapting and learning from their other titles, and that’s exactly what we learnt in the Riders Republic beta. Ideas have been taken from practically every Ubisoft franchise (but mostly Steep) to create Riders Republic and we are very excited to see the game at launch. Thinking back to the first Xbox, we remember playing the Amped franchise and dreaming that one day there would be a game where it’s online and you can just chill out with your mates while showing off new tricks and now that the technology can deliver it we are almost in heaven. Might just need to add a skateboard.
Rocket Chainsaw played the Riders Republic beta on an Xbox Series X console. For more information on the game which launches on October 28, 2021, head to the official website.