It's time to con­quer snowy moun­tains, writes An­drew White­head

Hyper - - EDITORIAL -

It's clear Ubisoft An­necy is pas­sion­ate about Steep. Ev­ery inch of this game looks and feels like a love let­ter to its part of the world and its nat­u­ral beauty. Set par­tially in the Alps, the game fo­cuses on snow­board­ing, ski­ing, paraglid­ing and wing­suit­ing in an open world de­signed from the ground up to be a seam­less mul­ti­player ex­pe­ri­ence.

How you get around the map is up to you, and you can switch your equip­ment at any point. This gives you the free­dom to, for ex­am­ple, paraglide to one sec­tion of a moun­tain, bust out your snow­board, and ride all the way down to the bot­tom. The game also fea­tures an ea­gle-eye view of the moun­tain range that al­lows play­ers to tele­port to drop zones they’ve al­ready dis­cov­ered in their snowy trav­els.

One thing I didn’t ex­pect from Steep is for it to make me laugh as much as it did. And not be­cause it’s in­ten­tion­ally funny. But it's hard to not laugh when watch­ing my poor avatar smash into an on­com­ing tree, then roll down the side of a cliff.

Trees and rocks will al­ways pose a threat, but play­ers can turn off col­li­sion with other play­ers if you’d rather fo­cus on com­pet­ing with­out it be­com­ing Mor­tal Kom­bat on ice. And if you

play­ers can turn off col­li­sion if you’d rather fo­cus on com­pet­ing with­out it be­com­ing mor­tal Kom­bat on ice

can’t be both­ered to fin­ish an event you’re go­ing to lose, just hold down the ded­i­cated re­set but­ton. Five or so sec­onds later and you're back at the start of the event.

The con­trols for ski­ing and snow­board­ing don’t feel quite as videogamy as some­thing like SSX, but that’s not to say the game feels en­tirely re­al­is­tic ei­ther. You can still pull off com­pli­cated tricks like a pro, but you have to pay at­ten­tion if you want to stick the land­ing. I did have an is­sue pulling off the same trick twice, though, as grab tricks are per­formed by hold­ing down a shoul­der but­ton and tilt­ing the right ana­logue stick. It wasn’t hard, per se, but it’s just not as pre­cise as what I’m used to in sports games.

Up in the air, the con­trols for the wing­suit are fairly for­giv­ing. It’s easy to bend the rules of how aero­dy­nam­ics ac­tu­ally work to re­gain lost al­ti­tude. Wing­suit events usu­ally em­pha­sise fly­ing close to ob­sta­cles for points or just straight-up down­hill rac­ing. Paraglid­ing was the weak­est of the four game­play types and felt more like a way to take in the scenery than an ac­tual com­pet­i­tive sport. All modes are also playable in ei­ther first-per­son or third-per­son.

The screen­shots alone should tell you how great the moun­tains look. And up close the ter­rain is bril­liantly re­alised, right down to how the snow moves re­al­is­ti­cally be­neath you. The scale of the moun­tain range, too, is im­pres­sive; it's just calling out to be ex­plored by play­ers look­ing to find hid­den val­leys and slopes.

How much fun the game will be in the long de­pends on how large of a fan base Steep can gar­ner to cre­ate new events. But for now, the game feels like a brave step in the right di­rec­tion for a genre of gam­ing that has been pretty dor­mant of late.

Hard to imag­ine why Ubisoft called this game 'Steep'. Oh, wait... It's a sur­pris­ingly pop­u­lated space for such a des­o­late place, right?

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