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