It has become a tradition for Ubisoft to unveil a brand-new AAA IP at E3 for the past handful of years or so, and this year’s IP reveal was none other than the action sports, third and first-person game known as Steep.
The action sports genre was largely dominated by the SSX series in years past, but with that brand having not seen a new release since 2012, there hasn’t been a franchise to bring the genre back to the forefront, but Steep has all the ingredients to make that happen.
In this new world, gamers will be able to experience events in three different ways: Paragliding, wing-suiting and of course, skiing and snowboarding. The game is set to take place across a variety of mountains, all of which have been inspired by Le Mont Blanc in the Alps, a set of peaks that is located near Ubisoft Annecy, the studio developing the upcoming game.
Much like many of Ubisoft’s most recent IPs, Steep will have very strong social elements and players will be encouraged to explore the mountains, and complete challenges that they can then share with friends. The whole GoPro era of videos has inspired the first-person view in Steep, and the experiences you will find under that perspective are thrilling.
I had the chance to play an early demo of the game at E3 and came away with an encouraging feeling that this game can become the king of the action sports genre in video games. Steep has a variety of experiences for players to sample right out of the gate, and the activity that stuck out most to me was wing-suiting.
I found the dedicated wing-suiting events to be extremely fun, yet challenging. Learning how to control my character was an enjoyable experience, though a painful one at times. With how sensitive the movement is while you’re in the air, I learned quickly how a simple move of the controller could impact my flight path.
One event in particular that I tried to complete had a point where I had to fly through a power line and needless to say, it took me a few tries.
Maintaining a steady pace toward the power line was crucial, but if I was too low or too high, that usually led to me crashing into the structure or having to make a sharp turn down, also leading to a head-first dive into the structure.
It was a fun experience to learn how to control my character in air because when I failed, it was a simple thing to click a button or two and then I was back on top of the run, plummeting down toward the ground again.
When I finally figured out how to conquer the run, it was extremely satisfying and left me ready to complete the next run that was available.
Gamers can shift back and forth between the third-person and first-person perspectives, and let me tell you that wing-suiting and paragliding were blasts to experience in first-person. For those curious, I’d say that snowboarding and skiing are better fits for the third-person perspective.
As much fun as it was to check out wing-suiting, it was not the only thrilling experience, as I thoroughly enjoyed Steep’s races and paragliding.
Paragliding had the same type of challenge that I found in wing-suiting, as it too forced me to be careful of my movements with the controller. This style of play certainly was a blast to witness in first-person, particularly since I could slow down my descent and visually take in the world around me.
For fans who remember the SSX series, races were certainly some of the most exciting events. In Steep, races definitely remind me of the thrilling dashes down a deadly mountain from the good ole days.
Having to navigate around trees, boulders, cliffs made each race exciting until the finish line. After completing a race and earning a top time, it left me with the satisfying feeling of a successful run.
Switching gears to trick-based runs, these are something that I feel need to be embellished the most in Steep. When I went through a trick run, I really didn’t feel that wave of satisfaction that I was expecting. After landing a trick, there wasn’t much in the way of positive feedback and the types of tricks I could perform felt limited.
I understand Steep isn’t trying to be like SSX, however, the new IP could learn a thing or two about positive feedback when it comes to its tricks. Whether it’s UI we see after completing a trick or it’s embellished movements and quickness when completing a trick, the positive feedback needs to be there to keep me coming back to Freestyle events, or else the game could risk boring players away from trick events.
Seamlessness is a term that has become synonymous with Ubisoft games, and Steep is no exception to that rule. Steep features seamless transitions when gamers move from the end of a run to the beginning of a new one, regardless of the type of event they choose. It was extremely impressive how I was able to go from crashing in the middle of a wing-suiting event, to standing back on top of the start platform, where I then began my next attempt.
I couldn’t be more excited for the potential that Steep has, and the fact that it’s still scheduled for a December release date is exciting as well. This game is doing so many exciting things, and should Ubisoft strike that balance between authentic on-mountain experiences and providing enough positive player-feedback, I feel that Steep could be one of the biggest surprises in 2016. Steep is scheduled to arrive this coming December on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Images courtesy of Ubisoft.