Steep

De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Ubisoft (An­necy) For­mat PC, PS4, Xbox One Re­lease De­cem­ber

EDGE - - DISPATCHES PERSPECTIVE -

We have GoPro to thank for this. The un­end­ing stream of YouTube ex­treme­s­ports videos recorded us­ing the com­pany’s rugged ac­tion cam­era led Ubisoft An­necy to awaken the hi­ber­nat­ing win­ter sports genre. And it is in lit­er­ally the best po­si­tion to do so: the stu­dio is based in the city of the same name, which is bor­dered by moun­tains from the French Alps and Bauges ranges. Steep’s sprawl­ing open worlds take in both the Alps and Alaska, and in our E3 demo we risk our limbs and life in the for­mer.

Any game with snow­board­ing is go­ing to evoke mem­o­ries of 1080° and SSX, but Steep man­ages to blend the rush of those ar­cadey games with the more con­tem­pla­tive ex­plo­ration of the Amped se­ries. You can also switch to skis, a wing­suit or a paraglider at any time ( though it would be worth not­ing your al­ti­tude first). The com­bi­na­tion is in­tox­i­cat­ing – an im­me­di­ately ap­peal­ing open world built at an an­gle con­ducive to ter­ri­fy­ing speed, and one that fur­ther com­pounds this sen­sa­tion with a faintly ridicu­lous GoPro view that de­mands light­ning-fast reactions.

Ir­re­spec­tive of whether you plump for first-ish per­son or a chase cam, how­ever, Steep com­mu­ni­cates the dan­ger and po­ten­tial vi­o­lence of your ac­tiv­i­ties with shak­ing cam­eras, the thun­der­ous rum­ble of buf­fet­ing air, and some ac­tu­ally rather dis­turb­ing scream­ing af­ter mis­cal­cu­la­tions. The moun­tain­side is stud­ded with chal­lenges, which come in a va­ri­ety of forms. Wing­suit prox­im­ity fly­ing chal­lenges, for ex­am­ple, ask you to taunt death by skim­ming as close to the ground and scenery as pos­si­ble, while one freestyle ski­ing chal­lenge of­fers noth­ing more than a start and fin­ish line on each side of a dense for­est and asks you to reach the lat­ter as quickly as pos­si­ble. There are more struc­tured events, too, such as check­point races which force a cir­cuitous route through tricky ob­sta­cles, and all can be played with friends or strangers in re­al­time.

You can also cre­ate your own chal­lenges us­ing Steep’s slick-look­ing route tracker. Any line you take is recorded as a se­ries of or­ange dots in the pulled-back Moun­tain View, which you can use to nav­i­gate be­tween the game’s var­i­ous drop points. You pick a par­tic­u­lar jump or the whole thing and then ad­just the rules be­fore up­load­ing the chal­lenge for oth­ers to com­pete in. Given the GoPro in­spi­ra­tion, it’s lit­tle sur­prise to learn that you can also edit and up­load re­plays of runs or par­tic­u­lar stunts. Since this is an Ubisoft game, the stu­dio will be crow­bar­ring in quests tied to both the drop­zones and some kind of nar­ra­tive – we just hope they don’t en­croach too much on the dizzy­ing free­dom promised else­where.

Wing­suit prox­im­ity fly­ing chal­lenges ask you to taunt death by skim­ming as close to the ground as pos­si­ble

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