Steep Beta Impressions
aven’t heard of Ubisoft’s upcoming snow sport title? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Steep is set to be released this Friday, December 2nd, for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Yet it seems that Ubisoft has done little to market the game or allow media outlets to preview it. Instead, two betas for Steep have come and gone, and here are some of my thoughts on the game.
- The beta was a big open sandbox in the form of a huge mountain. I’m not sure if the full game will have other mountains to explore, but the area in the beta looked big enough for a lot of time to spent within it.
- You are able to switch between skiing, snowboarding, a wingsuit, and a parachute. This lets you explore nearly any part of the mountain. Helicopters are unlocked later in the game and will allow for true freedom by dropping your off wherever you want.
- The game structure works like this. You travel to a drop zone on some part of the mountain and complete its challenges. Then you return to the drop zone and find another drop zone by looking around with binoculars.
- There are challenges for each mode of transportation. Some challenges focus on speed, others on scoring points via tricks and air time. Completing challenges unlocks new challenges and items with which to customize your character.
- There is no loading when you choose a place to travel to on the map.
- The graphics are a bit underwhelming, with trees and rocks looking especially unimpressive. That being said, there are still some great views from high up on the mountain.
- The camera always gives you a good view when you are boarding or skiing, and replays can be saved and shared.
- Seamless multiplayer exists in two forms. The first is multiplayer challenges like races, the second is creating challenges for other players to attempt.
- The way your character controls works well enough but takes some getting used to. Jumps are performed by holding then releasing one of the triggers. While boarding or skiing, movement is controlled by a combination of the analog sticks. Overall, the controls are decent but aren’t so good that they make messing around in the game’s world a thrill, unlike games like Skate 3 or old SSX titles.
- There is no trick list and tricks seem to be way too simple – you push the analog stick to the right or left to spin and hold a trigger to grab. Maybe I was missing something, but if the game doesn’t have specific tricks, it’s a strange choice and the game is going to lack some different challenges that have been in past sports games, such as completing a specific list of tricks within a time frame.
- Landing a rotation feels a little cheap. You push the analog stick left or right to rotate and then release it to have your character prepare to land. This sometimes results in your character doing an extra 360° turn, making it feel like you didn’t have full control over landing such an awesome trick.
- Parachuting and wing suit challenges were a source of boredom and frustration for me. Parachuting is difficult to control while the camera for wing suit challenges is set right behind you as you soar straight ahead, so your character blocks most of the screen.
- There is no grinding mechanic, unlike basically all the other extreme sport games ever made. You can still grind but you have to hit the line perfectly and there is no meter telling you if your character is balanced or not.
My overall impression of Steep is one of mediocrity. Everything in the game worked fine but the basic gameplay wasn’t that fun and challenges were straightforward and generic. Without specific tricks as well as without a grinding mechanic, a lot of the fun found in other extreme sport games is missing. The game’s lack of loading, its seamless multiplayer, and the freedom given to the player to explore the mountain are all positives. However, how the game’s progression is structured will be the deal breaker. If the beta is a simulacrum of the full release, then Steep will have players doing a lot of repetitive challenges all for the rewards of items to place on your character and to unlock even more challenges. Even with being the only recent winter sports game released in a while, I have my doubts on just how worthwhile a purchase of Steep will be.