Trials Rising Hands-On Preview

September 19, 2018

Announced at E3, the latest entry in the Trials series is promising something of a return to form after the middling Trials Fusion and the wacky gaiden-game of Trials of the Blood Dragon. Trials Rising promises more of the wild motocross-based platforming that made Trials HD and Trials Evolution such good fun.

The closed beta, however, shows that the game has a long way to go before it gets to that point. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever played a beta of a game that was as buggy as Trials Rising,showing exactly why this is a beta and not a full release. Not only was it plagued with network issues that rendered the multiplayer modes unusable for me, but I encountered a hard progression halting bug that proved unfixable, even with the workaround offered on Ubisoft’s support forums. This bug happened just four tracks in and made it basically impossible for me to fully assess the current state of the game before its release in February 2019.

So, this assessment of the game is based only on what I could play, and I have some good news to begin with: The physics in Trials Rising are the best the series has ever had. They haven’t changed dramatically, just minor tweaks, but it’s enough to make the game feel more responsive and, to the possible chagrin of seasoned Trials veterans, more forgiving. The best example of these changes is that crashing feels a lot less arbitrary than it did previously. Rough landings would sometimes cause you to crash as your rider collided with the body of the bike, but that no longer happens. It makes for cleaner, less frustrating racing.

Trials Rising focuses on bringing players together for multiplayer fun. I wasn’t able to fully explore the multiplayer in the beta as it never would connect to a lobby for me, however there’s also a multiplayer aspect to the singleplayer side of the game as well. As you ride, the game will pit you against a handful ghost racers. On some tracks, it’s necessary to beat these ghost racers to progress. If you don’t have a network connection, there are premade racers that the game will put you up against, but when you do, the ghost racers shown will roughly match the proficiency you have shown in earlier races.

Unfortunately, these ghosts can make racing confusing. While they fade out somewhat when you’re near them, there’s no way in the game to disable them entirely, and there isn’t enough distinction between the ghosts and your own rider to clearly know which bike is yours when everyone is clumped together. This is especially frustrating when you’re close to matching the time of another ghost, only to lose track of your rider in the air and crash on landing.  I would expect, if developer RedLynx really wants this to be a major feature of the game, for it to be fixed before release.

The most controversial aspect of Trials Rising, and one that many beta players seem unhappy with, is the introduction of loot boxes to the series. With how hated they are among players now, I was surprised that Ubisoft wanted to persist with them. The game was pretty generous in handing them out (you get one each time you level up), but the beta didn’t implement any kind of real money transaction system for them, so it’s impossible to say how they’ll be priced if they remain in the game at launch. Due to the network issues I had with the beta, I was never actually able to open a loot box, either, with the game just staying in the opening animation or, once, hanging completely while trying to open one.

Based on what ended up being a very limited experience with the Trials Rising beta, I have to say that the game needs a lot of work between now and February. Network issues and progression-halting bugs will obviously be fixed, but other issues, such as loot boxes,  are going to be more problematic to resolve.

I’ve deliberately avoided talking about track design in this preview, as I feel I wasn’t able to experience enough of the tracks to make a good judgement on it. I’m also unable to talk about the game’s track editor, as it was not available to use during the beta.