Steep Xbox One Beta Impressions

November 13, 2016

When Steep was first announced, it looked like an amazing all-in-one snow sports adventure package. Exploring the alps (and as we later found out, Alaska via a free update) using a snowboard, skis, wing-suit, parachute – or just walking – is another one of those dreams that most people would only ever have the option of in the form of a video game. Steep aims to give players a massive open world to explore, full of different types of activities, online interactions, and challenging feats. We jumped in to the Steep beta on Xbox One, and can now reveal how well the game handles in the lounge room.

To start off, the Steep beta doesn’t give you access to a lot of the map, in fact it seemed quite limited as to how far you could travel. One thing important to games like this is the ability to travel back up the mountain quickly, and while Steep has an instant fast-travel ability, it would have been nice to see the old chair lift, or possibly a helicopter travel ability like we saw in 2009’s Stoked snowboarding game. There are two main games that Steep on Xbox One can be compared to: Stoked, and Snow. Stoked was a very enjoyable snowboarding game with a rather steep (no pun intended) learning curve. Once you mastered the maneuvers however, it was as rewarding and enjoyable as any Tony Hawk combo you’ve ever pulled off.


Steep appears to offer as much as Stoked did in regards to snowboarding, and does so with a much prettier backdrop. Snow on the other hand is a free open-world PC game that has been in development for a few years now, and is basically the only current active competitor for Steep. Youtuber Drawyah Games has created a nice side-by-side video where you can see the similarities and differences between the two:


Snow offers players both skiing and snowboarding, however as you can see from the video it is already looking aged compared to Steep and given it doesn’t have the backing of a large publisher such as Ubisoft, it’s doubtful Snow could come out on top in the battle for the best snow sports game.

So with that said, time to step in to the Steep beta. We found there wasn’t much of an explanation needed to get started on the slopes. It’s pretty much a game players can jump straight in to and immediately feel rewarded. The Steep beta first encourages you to try out the different sports, and also gives you free-roam access straight away if you want to explore the mountains at your own pace. If you continue to play through the events offered in the beta however, you’ll unlock drop zones which allow you to fast travel around the map a lot easier.

All four of the sports had their own unique feel, and Steep should provide many hours of gameplay for all kinds of players. Not a fan of skiing? Jump on the snowboard. Prefer to breeze down in the air? There are two completely different options for you. The parachuting is actually very unique and has a slightly arcade feel to it. It’s not the kind of sport where you would want to do loop-the-loops in real life, but in Steep it seems like it’s actively encouraged, and we can’t wait to see what kind of crazy things pro players get up to with the parachute once the full game gets released. The wing-suit actually felt the most limiting because there wasn’t really much you can do with it. You’re able to go dangerously low to the ground, and then lift yourself up into the safe space of the atmosphere, but apart from that, it didn’t really feel all that ‘extreme’, especially if you’re not in an actual race with checkpoint objectives.


Steep mainly looks like it’s going to work on a points/XP system where everything you do throughout the game gives you points which you can then use to level up and unlock new abilities, similar to the Forza Horizon series’ XP system. This means regardless of whether you’re doing the events, the game will naturally progress and your character will become more capable as an extreme snow sports athlete. It will be interesting to see some of the more harsh terrain once the Steep beta truly opens up after launch, as right now the current map felt fairly limited in terms of how dangerous the drops were.

Our main gripe was that it doesn’t seem like you were able to change between which sport you wanted to use on the fly, so therefore you couldn’t just switch from wing-suit to snowboard midair or vice-versa. This could be unlockable at a later stage in the game, but it would have been nice to try it out early on in the closed Steep beta. If it doesn’t become an option in the game, it means you have to come to a complete standstill on the slopes and really hinders the flow of an extreme sports game. Obviously, it’s fairly realistic to have to stop to put your snowboard or parachute on, but what’s not realistic is that once you come to a stop it’s an instant switch of clothing/gear. It seems for some reason Ubisoft is happy to have it one way but not the other, and this unfortunately slows the gameplay to a halt many times unnecessarily.


In summary, the Steep beta gives you a good idea of what to expect in the full release in December, without spoiling too much of the epic experiences that await. It’s definitely the best-looking snow sports game that has ever been made, and blows existing competition out of the water, so hopefully Ubisoft can deliver a fully polished Steep on launch that doesn’t require urgent patches and updates, like we’ve seen with so many other titles this year.

Steep launches Friday December 2, 2016 worldwide, and is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC. For full details on pre-ordering Steep and its Gold Edition, head to the official Ubisoft store here.