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Riders Republic

Riders Republic

Ubisoft Annecy has delivered an extreme sports open world paradise that is relentlessly fun.

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A few months ago, I had the opportunity to dive into the enormous extreme sports paradise that is Ubisoft Annecy's Riders Republic. Following a five-hour play session, I was left genuinely surprised and excited for this game, which essentially serves as a successor to 2016's Steep. Jump forward to today, and Riders Republic has officially launched, and I've spent the weekend thoroughly immersed in this massive multiplayer playground to see if it stacks up.

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If you're unaware of what exactly Riders Republic is, this title is an extreme sports game of pretty ambitious scope. Set in a fictional land called The Republic, which is a mash-up of a bunch of different US national parks, including Yosemite, Sequoia, and Grand Teton, Riders asks players to make a name for themselves in this land, by joining in a variety of races, stunts, and mad events to be able to qualify and compete in the pinnacle activity that is the Ridge Invitational.

Qualifying for the Ridge Invitational isn't an easy process. You have to gather a massive amount of stars that are rewarded for competing in events, completing alternative objectives, and exploring the world. Unlike Steep, Riders also doesn't limit itself to snow and airborne activities, meaning you can explore the huge world on bikes, as well as skis, snowboards, wingsuits and rocketwings, all of which will be used in the five unique career paths to earn stars and unlock more events on your quest to race in the Ridge Invitational.

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I've found the different sports to be a little hit or miss. The bikes are a highlight, and you can clearly tell that Ubisoft Annecy has spent a lot of time perfecting how they feel and play. Whether you're hammering it down a massive slope on a road bike, or leaping to great heights in trick events, bikes always feel exciting and engaging to play with. On the other hand, I've found the airborne activities, be it wingsuiting or rocketwinging, to be a little exhausting. The rocketwings have been improved since the beta periods and do feel far easier to handle, but these activities, including wingsuiting, just don't quite resonate in the same enthralling way that the bikes do.

The snow events are also a lot of fun but do lack the freedom that the bike activities offer. For the most part, snow events fall into the category of either slalom races or tricks events, and while they are both fun, there's only so many times you can bomb down a slalom slope before it becomes a little repetitive.

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But, this all leads into the beauty of Riders Republic, as you don't need to be a huge fan of all the sports to fall in love with this game. The Republic is a gut-wrenchingly large open world, packed with countless opportunities and ways to enjoy it. There are more than enough bike, snow, or airborne activities to satisfy fans of each category, and on top of that, there are online events to compete in and the world itself to explore.

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While it is worth mentioning that the open world has that Ubisoft essence and boasts a fair few of the typical open world tropes that have been exhausted, such as 500(!) Riders Republic balloons to find and collect, there are places where you can see that the developer is trying to break away from that stereotype. As Riders is a multiplayer playground, there aren't hordes of NPCs scattered around to make the world feel that much more alive, instead what we get are thousands of ghosts of other players that make The Republic feel genuinely busy. This only really ever changes in the online events, as regular races and events are played against ghosts as well (unless you queue in a party that is), which does lead to a few issues here and there as the ghosts will collide with you and force you off the track without so much as being phased. And yes, this does become very irritating.

In the online events, which could be anything from Tricks Battles or Mass Races, you do get to play against actual people, which is a welcome breath of fresh air, but at the same time isn't hugely noticeable, as the ghost system has been implemented to a high-quality. While I will say that the Trick Battles are fun, it's the Mass Races that steal the show, as they cram 64 players into one lobby to compete over three unique courses in the hopes of becoming a victor. As you'd expect, these are crazy, and a lot of fun, but they do highlight an issue I've come to find increasingly jarring in Riders Republic: the gear rating system.

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At the start of your journey, you are handed a bunch of basic gear, which has low stat values and while they will get you from point A to point B, these items often lack the speed and grip that allows you to set blistering times or scores. In the early stages of the game, this is barely a problem, but as you reach 200+ stars, you begin facing ghosts that are using gear that is rated hundreds of points ahead of yours, which basically makes it impossible to beat these ghosts unless they crash, or rather you rank up enough to get some high-tier gear yourself, which involves playing more races against poorly matched ghosts. This system also branches into online activities, which basically gives the players with the top gear a massive advantage over everyone else, and while this isn't pay-to-win, I can't help but think that item stat values should be removed to preserve the competitive integrity of online events.

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Yet, with this being said, I still firmly believe that Riders Republic is a pretty special game. Sure, the ghosts can be annoying and the item rating system is flawed, but these are only slight issues that arise after sinking a bunch of hours into the game over a few days, and aren't severe enough to impact what Riders is bringing to the table, which is a title that is meant to simply be enjoyed, through and through. If I had to describe the way I see Riders in one simple sentence, it would be that it is the extreme sports equivalent of Forza Horizon. Just as Horizon draws you in with an exciting world and plenty of unique and enthralling events, Riders Republic is a game that you can easily lose hours in by chewing through the races and stunts, and online activities, in your own way and at your own pace. And with this in mind, extreme sports fan or not, I'd recommend giving Riders Republic a go, as it will probably surprise you - just as it did to me a few months ago.

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08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
Incredibly enjoyable. Loads of different things to occupy your time with. Bikes are a highlight. The Republic is enormous and yet never feels lonely.
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Ubisoft open world tropes are still present. Item rating system is flawed. Ghosts can be frustrating to deal with at times.
overall score
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Riders Republic

REVIEW. Written by Ben Lyons

Ubisoft Annecy has delivered an extreme sports open world paradise that is relentlessly fun.



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