Imagine being able to play in a large open world mountain side in the Alps, being able to choose which extreme snow sport you would like to partake in. Well, Steep offers all of that, all of it. This includes a multiplayer mode too so you can play with your friends! Unfortunately, the multiplayer stuff means you have to interrupt your game and join a matchmaking queue or even join up in party. That’s right, there is no one else on the mountain. You are a sole skier, snowboarder, paraglider or wing suit pilot. It’s kind of a let down if you ask me, seeing as Ubisoft did it quite well in The Division.
Anyhow, Steep as an extreme sports game is pretty good. It did take some getting used to I must admit. There were a lot of times when I first launched the game that saw me crash into pretty much any obstacle in my way. Whether it tree, rock, iceberg or chairlift, each had my name on it and I headed straight for it. Controlling the player is a lot different to what I think many gamers are used to. I’ve come from games such as SSX Tricky and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Steep wants to take on more of a simulator type style. Think Skate in the snow.
Now as this is an open-world game, it basically means you can go anywhere within reason. The developers want to encourage players to explore. There are a huge number of challenges, trick runs and locations to unlock as you embark on your journey down the mountain. And what’s nice is that if you didn’t get them all on a single run, hold down the TAB button on your keyboard to start that run again.
The map as you start the game is very small, with a tutorial type section to complete before they let you go explore. The map opens up as you complete the many challenges on offer and you level up. Each challenge has its own specific sport, so you can’t complete a snowboarding challenge on skis, or a paragliding challenge in a wingsuit. Outside of challenges, if you want to start your run at the top of a mountain in your wingsuit, you can then, halfway down your run, glide the rest of it on skis. It’s easy to shift sports, as long as your player is static. You can’t change from paragliding to a wing suit for example.
The mountain range is unbelievably beautiful, and you can tell that a lot of passion from Ubisoft Annecy has gone into the creating something special. It’s a refreshing change from the kind of blood and guts, or spells and staffs type MMOs that we have seen time and time again. However, saying this, I must admit that you will need some kind of passion for this stuff if you’re going to keep playing. To me, runs seemed pretty repetitive, and I’m sure they’re not. But for someone who hasn’t got an eye for a lump of snow that could make you gain some pretty sweet air, getting from A to B at the base of the mountain doesn’t offer much variation.
As I mentioned earlier, the most fun I got out of the game was through Steep’s increasingly difficult challenges. It’s a great way to slip down the mountain and discover new challenges and runs. Challenges are formed as competitions. They can be races and trick runs where you’ll have to score maximum points. The competitions are spread across the four sports, so there is a lot of variety here. What annoyed me a little was that EVERY race or challenge was checkpointed. There was no sense of freedom to get to the finish line in creative ways. You had to follow a set path every time, which in all honestly goes against its open world claim I feel.
Everything can be seen from the game’s map view. This is an interactive map where you can fast travel between points, or even select a location to be airdropped by helicopter, although this costs tokens. The tokens can be earned back by completing competitions and challenges. The other way to explore the mountain is by looking through your binoculars and pinpointing different run starting points. Once you’ve spotted one, you can fast travel there by using your binoculars and starting that fresh run.
For £40, which I feel is a little ‘Steep’ (sorry, had to be done), the game can be yours. It’s available online through the Steam store which is where we picked up our copy. It will definitely give you some hours of fun over the Christmas period, but I can’t see much replayability here I’m afraid. It’s worth trying, but maybe not for the newly released asking price.