We take a look at Ubisoft’s extreme sports MMO, a game full of surprises that makes the seemingly impossible work and offers something unique and special.
You All know Hugo Simpson here , right? Yes man! Do not put that face that surely does. We mean Bart’s evil twin brother . The one who lived in the attic and ate fish heads. The one that appeared in a Halloween special of The Simpsons and that in the end, despite appearances and how they had treated him, turned out to be good and had to be integrated back into society. Well, the Riders Republic story has a lot in common with Hugo’s. He has an unrecognized twin brother ( Forza Horizon ), an ugly lookOf which it is easy to think badly and some characters and commentators who should be fed apart. And no fish heads. Scrapes. The fact is that, as happened with Hugo, Riders Republic has ended up being a good game. Lene, has ended up being cojonudo .
From the edgy era to the cringe era
In MeriStation we have already talked about the edgy era of video games and the shame of others that sagas such as Prince of Persia , Jak & Daxter or Sonic gave during those years. The industry went through its own turkey age, its own adolescence, and went through a little streak of releases in which heavy metal, half-naked chicks, dark colors and nightmare monsters seemed mandatory. Oh, and it would be cool. Much swagger. It was like being in a teenager’s room . We changed Las Arenas del Tiempo (light, magic and romanticism) for things like El Alma del Guerrero , whose beginning wasa close up of an ass in a tiny thong. In the sequel to PoP, the Prince’s first line of script (much more tormented, much more “bad”) consisted of calling the owner of said rear a whore (harpy in Spanish, bitch in the original). Seeing is believing. Little happens to us. And although we now contemplate the past with a smug smile, no one should claim victory . Titles like Riders Republic show us that we haven’t gotten over it yet. Who knows. We may never finish doing it.
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We have gone from the edgy era of video games to the cringe era ; from adolescence to the crisis of the forties . Riders Republic is one more name for that list of titles today that range from modern, countercultural, cool and cool (although these last two terms also identify us as boomers ). A list that begins to be embarrassingly long and in which, well, how curious, they all have something in common. They all boast of a hooligan look with which they want to look young , but they actually smell like mothballs. Most of its members remember theMr. Burns disguised as Jimbo . Many even run the same fate (that is, they end up being little more than a meme ). This is not the case with Riders, but almost. It has gone a hair.
Two fairly clear and recent examples of this cringe stage are those of (the forgettable ones) Far Cry: New Dawn and Rage 2 . If some neophyte in the matter told us that Riders Republic is a direct continuation of both and that the three make up a trilogy, who would we be to judge him? With what arguments would we refute it? At the end of the day they present the same pantone full of pinks and yellows, identical saturation , little smoke cans in every corner, moral and ideology lessons for the 21st century, humorous protagonists with the grace and talent of Juan Muñoz (who took the cross and the line), secondary ones that boast of theiroutsider spirit (or rebellious, or free, rebellious, crazy goat and as many variations as you want) , graffiti, punk hairstyles, children’s birthday clothes or Mad Max (there is no middle ground), and so on. The fact is that all three – Far Cry , Rage , Riders Republic – seek the cultural impact and personality of Jet Set Radio (or if you hurry us, Sunset Overdrive ), but in reality they end up being as ridiculous as Juanma Castaño playing freestyler at Masterchef. They are so eager to burn us with their charisma that they end up setting fire to the kitchen and end up presenting the same ash-based dish. Or what is the same, rIt is gray, identical and flavorless results . They wanted to be groundbreaking, but they are not bland.
“His gritty portrayal of the world of extreme sports, those blushing cutscenes, and the exhaustion of his continuous notifications almost spoiled everything.”
Well, okay, the game handles a tone and register that has choked you , but why make blood? Does he really deserve that you dedicate these first paragraphs of his analysis to him? The answer is a resounding YES. And the very simple reason: Riders Republic has such good arguments in most of its sections that its aesthetics and staging is the little that we can blame it for . The sooner we get rid of the worst, the better. The same thing happens in the game. Once we stop bleeding from the eyes due to its graphic and technical problems , once we understand that we must put Spotify in the background so as not to die of boredom, and once we signed up for transcendental meditation so as not to lose our temper with its continuous interruptions , its stupid little scenes and its unnecessary warnings, then, and only then, did we discover an arcade hardly forgettable .
Riders Republic is so preoccupied with being liked , so focused on being cool , that it doesn’t realize the excruciating barrage of stimuli it puts us through. Even opening the map is torture . Its scriptwriters take advantage of every loophole, every step of us through the menus, to give us the turra and show off our ingenuity. It is a downpour of blushing and cinematic dialogues in front of which it is impossible not to put the hands to the head. Not to mention the radio comments that are repeated over and over again, the exaggerated amount of bookmarks and icons, or the flood of notifications about the latest bullshit we have unlocked. You put the controller on a table, you don’t touch anything and … bingo! Come prizes and rewards. Seeing him insist so much on how modern he is only serves to highlight how poorly emulated the jargon is (it seems like a parody) and how empty and distant his art is. Because no, not everyone who goes to BMX events is a Jackass character . They are neither hippies nor starving. Does playing these sports force you to suffer from Peter Pan syndrome or what? His paternalism is most unpleasant. It is time to break stereotypes. And okay, we got it, it’s a festival and if we pass tests we will win a better team and access greater challenges. What else is there to say? Why is there more charleta than in Death Stranding ? So yeah, it’s definitely important to start by making it clear that Riders Republic is one of the cringeiest of a cringe time .
Ubisoft’s leap into the void
If we overcome the initial impression, the same thing happens after these first paragraphs: the benefits proliferate, and see that the proposal was risky. An extreme sports MMO? Really? There are hardly any references and the idea seemed to collide with the very foundations of the genre. Who buys a delivery of Trials to play online? Is the Steep community really interested in the Roller Champions or Shaun White Skateboarding proposal ? And backwards? How many mountain bike fans do you also call skiing ? Can skydiving and bike tricks go hand in hand ? Are there simulatorswingsuit ? More importantly, how the hell do jet packs fit into all of this ?! Of course, there were more reasons for it to go wrong than for it to go right. But the fact is that it has turned out well. The cocktail turns out to be great and “risky” is nothing more than a synonym for brave and original , even revolutionary. Ubisoft keeps our mouths shut again and Annecy continues to vindicate herself. We often make the mistake of automatically associating sports video games with EA Sports and 2K Games, but Ubisoft’s resume and experience in certain disciplines (all the sagas cited are his) well deserve more recognition. Riders Republic represents a new gallon in the developer’s service record and reveals a very promising horizon for the genre .
To begin with, we are talking about a game that perfectly suits your mood . Do you wake up with a competitive spirit? Get ready. Getting the three stars of each event (without help, of course) requires technique and discipline, precision and nerves of steel. It is not an easy task. Not to mention that winning online is only available to the best . Are you looking to relax and disconnect? Even better. Then we will talk about its mapping, but we already tell you that it is spectacular, it feels alive and exploring it is a real delight. Going down certain slopes just because, because we feel like it, chill , it couldn’t be more satisfactory. We have spent entire afternoons without competing, simply exploring the map, and they have almost been the one we have enjoyed the most at the controls.
“The experience can be as intense or peaceful as you want. As difficult or simple. So sociable or lonely. So diverse or monotonous. A world for many riders.”
What do you want to see faces with people online? Be careful what you wish for. The jostling and chaos of 64-player races can unhinge more than one. In any case, calm down, there are modes for fewer people ( 12 ), and there are against everyone and by teams ( 6 vs 6 ). Because for tastes, the colors. Were you looking for the opposite? Pure singleplayer? The same, perfect. All events can be enjoyed alone while we fight against rivals possessed by the ghost of our friends or other users. AI is not up to par with Forza’s drivavatar(no point of comparison), but it is always more fun to recognize the name of the other competitors. And if we are especially sullen, there is no major problem either.
We do some stunts and that’s it. They are a medley of tests in which only us will be, without bots or adversaries of any kind . Against the clock, against a score, against ourselves. What about training a little? That tutorial of the devil that he has has not been able to with you and you want more advice? There you have the academy, brimming with practices and tricks. Riders Republic adapts to whatever you ask of it . The experience can be as intense or gentle as you like. So difficult or simple. So sociable or lonely. So diverse or drab. A world for many riders.
An evil twin brother for Forza Horizon
After this description it is impossible not to think about Forza Horizon . The Playground Games game is a very clear reference from which they inherit freedom, proposal and adaptability . We repeat, Riders is a chameleon. Its pace, degree of challenge and number of online options are tailored to our wishes. On the other hand, the (infinite?) Variety that Horizon enjoys thanks to its catalog of brands, categories and specifications, the Ubisoft game supplements it with an idea that brings everything to life. Because, how many titles allow you to go from a mountain bike to a snowboard in a matter of a couple of seconds? Riders Republic offers the most dynamic and diverse repertoire of disciplines and vehicles we have ever seen .
There are deep games like them alone (Forza Horizon itself), but here we talk about something else, something unique. We talked about going on foot so happy, pressing a button and jumping on a snowmobile . After a while we press it again and a giant fan ( aka paramotor ) projects us towards the sky. We parachute down when we fly over the top of a mountain, we go to a snowboard and descend its slope. When we got down, we changed the board for some rocket skis and we retraced the path. No waiting for the chairlift. Up again, now we grab a wingsuit ( wingsuit) and this time we went down, letting ourselves be carried away by the air currents. And down, if that, we hit the bikes. Downhill bikes, city bikes, spinning bikes (no kidding). The offer is utter nonsense. A wonderful madness. A milestone in the genre that works like a shot on top. Changing vehicles is as fast as unfolding the weapon wheel of any third person shooter and going from one to another. No loading times. Question of seconds. There are even online events that automatically change our discipline in the middle of a race and force us to adapt and fully use that exotic sports Macedonian . This last situation that, believe us, could not be more fun.
Apprentice much, master of none?
It is so plural, so diverse and varied, so fast, that more than one will wonder (with good reason) about the level of depth and complexity it reaches. Because you already know what they say ” apprentice of much, master of nothing .” But answering, go ahead that Riders Republic is a tremendously accessible arcade , the kind that welcomes you with open arms and teaches you the basics to defend yourself in a matter of minutes. Still, accessible and straightforward is not the same as simple. Ubisoft has found the perfect balanceand each discipline has its own scheme of controls, peculiarities and ways of operating. The mechanics are well differentiated and although we will not need more than twenty minutes to know how to move on any terrain and aboard any junk, at the moment of truth, mastering the jumps, tricks and drifts will take us much longer. The same with the landings or the different strategies when dosing turbos and sprints. Mastering one area does not guarantee anything for the rest, which will lead to each of us being a unique pilot with our personal philias and phobias.
Philias and phobias
To us, for example, propelled wings seem the poorest test , the most basic, the one that depends the least on our ability and the most on the equipment we have chosen. Perhaps also the least attractive due to the implicit fantasy and the contrast with the others, already taken from the real world. For its part, we have been pleasantly surprised by the wingsuit stages. They have a design as intelligent as it is spectacular, they are dizzying and millimeter, to which is added that they hook and are addictive like themselves. It is not a sport that we would know much about or practice in real life, but in the present rider republic we do not get tired of them. In turn, the ski tricks phases, with their jumps and pirouettes, give us nightmares and we try to avoid them whenever we can. However, we love grinds with them and with snowboards. But the apple of our eyes will always be bikes. Not the tricks, but the downhill ones, with a special place in our hearts for trials. They are not many, but they are fantastic . A frankly surprising three-dimensional version of the Trials.
We must clarify that Riders Republic never reaches the depths of specialized deliveries in each discipline. Trial is never quite like the RedLynx saga , the snow is no match for what SSX has to offer and the trick phases pale with Tony Hawk’s lists and options . But we repeat, it is not that everything is handled in the same way or that the meat is the same as the fish. Ubisoft has done a great job and the overall experience with each sport covers much more than what the average user is used to.. Only those who dedicate themselves to completing and finishing cited titles will appreciate what we say. The biggest exponent of this is the option to put a control scheme on the snowboard that is directly taken from Steep . Or various tests that are inspired by real events that are even broadcast on television and have sponsors of the caliber of Red Bull . It’s a very solid job.
“Ubisoft has found a perfect balance. It is an accessible and immediate arcade, but each sport has its own mechanics and sufficient depth.”
Each test consists of up to three optional challenges and it is in these where the challenge and the real chicha lie. They are three stars (again as in Forza Horizon, as in their radars and speed sections, for example) and to achieve them it is not enough to win the races, but you have to fulfill several secondary objectives . They range from beating a certain time to finding certain objects along the way or using the rewind button. Can’t you guess which saga this is from !? Well yes, driving / piloting aids aside (where we do appreciate more simplification, since the only really significant change is that of the automatic landings), we also have the Forza rewind system. Rightly, in his case time is not for others, only for us, and although going back is of great help to correct specific errors, it is a fairer system and does not suppose such a great offense for the rest.
We better get used to not completing each event at once. Often coming first doesn’t matter and we must focus on making the stars individually, nothing at once. Not to mention that many are crazy and demand to return to them when our team of wings, bikes, boards and has more level ( a somewhat dirty backtracking , why lie). Each “vehicle” has the usual stats (speed, acceleration, handling, etc.) and it shows in the times we set. All are classified according to the current beauty standards: green, blue, purple and gold according to the degree of rarity ( * pretending a cough * as in Forza Horizon ), and they even have their own reputation system and brand loyalty (there are real ones , like Fordor Red Bull ). They are the contracts, with which to earn rewards. The latter offer us different challenges, but inexplicably, if we take one and change it we have to pay a penalty time without being able to take another. We bet that in the face of complaints and the unnecessaryness of the matter, it will not take long for the possibility of combining them all to open up. Although for that Ubisoft will have to first think of a way to make all brands not require the same in their contracts. Really, it’s not that difficult to customize them a bit. Could the difficulty grow in a different way, rather based on AI, routes and physics ? Definitely. It is noticed as the hours fall and the events remain constant. Regarding the content, we haveabout thirty hours and although it is true that we glimpse the end, we still have a while (and that without counting that it will praise via online).
A map to take off your hat (or helmet) to
The final thrust that has pierced our hearts is its mapping . A luxury and continuous enjoyment. Its design is already striking in itself, as it combines the most emblematic places of several American natural parks such as Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Grand Teton, Mammoth Mountain, Sequoia Park, Yosemite Valley and Zion National Park. Who has never dreamed of making the route of the parks throughout the United States ? Who has not seen movies set in them like Free Solo , the recent Oscar winner, or 127 Hoursby Danny Boyle? From green and flowery forests where we meet Bambi (there is a fauna that we will come across), to orange and rocky biomes, anteroom of the Grand Canyon. Passing, of course, through the snow and even through miniature towns or cities that we can go boating across the rooftops. They are tremendously vertical , although they are not so exuberant in terms of cymatology. They’re packed with collectibles, evidence, informational signs about the actual location they’re based on, and so on. Exploring or descending for sheer pleasure is a blast. His running courses are relatively linear, but when there are no checkpoints to go through, the experience is magnified. On top of that, the loading times are non-existent in the new generation consoles. It isan open world with capital letters .
Perhaps it lacks the visual impact and dimensions of the Forza Horizons, but once again, it compensates for this weakness in its own way (and we would not even count it as weakness, because next to the king of the genre, anyone’s legs shake a bit ). But Riders Republic does it, makes up for it, and it’s through a tremendously alive world . Wherever you go there is always someone. Everything is full of people doing the goat and traveling the same route. Generally they are not real people (unless you are with your group of friends), but their ghosts, an ethereal version that seen what they seen, often does the same stupid things as their alter ego. It is where its conception as MMO ( massive multiplayer online). We are aware that at the moment of truth the figures are not that high (races at 64 are the top), but believe us, it gives the feeling that there are thousands, or tens of thousands of players around us. It is a very successful deception that uses tricks such as frequently gathering everyone around a camp that serves as the epicenter of the game, or showing millions of people moving when we open the map menu. The best thing is that, being ghosts, they do not harass us, they do not bother us, they push and remove anyone from their route. They simply accompany. They allow us to see all kinds of crazy things, makeshift paths, funny anecdotes and memorable punches. In no other sandbox of the genre, not even in the Horizon itself, you have such a feeling. And if this condensation of souls overwhelms you, there is a totally offline Zen mode. Clean of icons and people, empty, silent and overwhelming. Perfect to relax. It is a great idea, but currently it is fouled by a huge mistake: it is the way that forces us to play by decree if we are not connected to the network. And there are no events (no races, no tricks, no stunts), just exploration. Ergo without internet connection the game is quite limited . We join all those voices in the community who have asked Ubisoft to correct this.
The audiovisual part does not accompany
The problems appear when we return to what we mentioned at the beginning of the analysis: its appearance. But we no longer get involved with his design or with that chromatic aberration that he spends and that at times spoils the beauty of his world. Sometimes you can even have a pass. It is used to adjust the HDR of the TV, for example. Joking away, we don’t even mean that sometimes the draw distance rivals that of Silent Hill 2 , that there is continuous popping , constant clipping and regular textures . We can go over it and justify it with its 4K and 60 fps on PS5 and Xbox Series X / S. By problems we refer to things that do affect what is playable, such as a collision system that causes at least strange moments. In 64 races we will sometimes bolt out of the way untouched, or we will jerk forward like a pinball. It is not just an online defect. Alone we have survived devastating impacts, but then the character has been sent flying by the brush of a pine branch. Without a doubt, the collision system is the most frustrating thing we have experienced at the controls. Funny at first, then unfair, and finally infuriating. And to this are added some screen freezes that in Series X take us out of the app and even turn off the console, although for these it has been promised that there will be a solution soon via update.
The soundtrack goes back to its old ways with the cringe tone. Although Just Dance could have yielded some, it is not that it has few songs (there are around 70 external collaborations), but the selection is, with all due respect, terrible, and adds the problem that the songs start again from the beginning. beginning each time we repeat the same test. In the highest difficulties, when restarting an event a lot of times, our heads will rumble with the same sound. Spotify is necessary if we do not want to end up with a stroke. When exploring, there is the option of changing the station, but we do not know why, we will always end up hearing the same refrains over and over again..
The future of Riders Republic
Riders Republic was born under the yoke of contemporary society and almost therefore under the yoke of the ” game as a service ” label . This is demonstrated by the micropayments of your store (only aesthetic, luckily), the contents that are renewed weekly , or the existence of a ” year 1 pass ” whose news sounds interesting (the discipline of BMX and more scenarios and modes online ). We will have to see how their world evolves because the departure station cannot be demanded more. Is there room for improvement? Yes, and it is broad, but demanding? In addition to correcting your performance, contracts and the Zen mode we talked about earlier, Riders could, for example, offer daily challenges in addition to weekly ones. Or a broader clothing catalog inside the store (with realistic skins for those who don’t want to feel like Fall Guys ). The latter may be arranged by an editor to create our own designs and share them online. Or a greater rotation of circuits in mass races. Nor would Nadal feel bad about tweaking the lobbies and matchmaking to speed it up, or include some extra multiplayer mode that gives him imagination (which for now we only have 12 races, trick duels and 6 vs 6 team battles in which we will have to conquer areas in the Splatoon manner ). In any case, you will be seeing that we are not talking about introducing major changes or content packages. They are nuances, concrete improvements that underpin a base already by itself capable of satiating anyone .
Those tinkering and pending accounts are forgiven when one reflects on the feat of what has been achieved. Because Riders Republic is a pioneer, a perfect mold for the genre and serves as the origin of a franchise whose limits are only in the imagination of Ubisoft . Have you thought about what it can become in the future if the game gains some weight graphically, updates the tone, expands those dimensions and MMO properties, and even adds disciplines such as skateboarding , surfing , rafting or a renewed skydiving? It’s not that crazy. Skateboarding and surfing even winks a couple of times. And look how the Trials grew . We could be talking aboutone of the great sports titles in history . The playable layer, its pillars and the approach, the most difficult, are already there. Riders Republic is a nugget of gold that we will see what Ubisoft turns into. And until you transform it into something, all you have to do is admire its brilliance.