Steep was revealed at E3 2016 as part of Ubisoft’s conference showcase and it made quite an impression on the community. Being revealed in May, I don’t think anyone was expecting to see an open beta this soon, but here it is! As an SSX and general snowsports fan, felt obliged to pick it up as it became available.
You’re greeted with a familiar voice if any of you have played Ubisoft’s other major title from this year, The Division, the voice is the same one used for Paul Rhodes, the jaded maintenance guy in charge of the tech wing. It’s quite a surprise to hear him being enthusiastic and not “A paranoid jackass” as Faye Lau refers to him.
It’s an impressive opening, the visuals being quite stunning considering the massive scope of the game environment. One of the unique focus points of this game’s gameplay is it’s ability to switch from one location to another almost instantaneously and it works incredibly well. The game renders massive areas quickly, it’s noticeable but still surprisingly swift considering.
Given the ability to do anything, anywhere on the slopes is quite astounding. You can simply walk around and bask in the scenery, or you can hop on your board/skis and ride the powder out. Feel like taking to the skies then you can break out the wingsuit or paraglider. Each method of getting around has its unique controls and feel, yet they are all fluid and easy to learn. Learning and mastering are totally different however.
Wingsuiting close to the ground (like in all those YouTube videos) is terrifying and brilliant at the same time. Carefully balancing your altitude and speed to score as many points as possible on the drop is way easier than it looks! Similarly the paragliding controls are also pretty lofty and difficult to manage. The sense of achievement when you manage to nail a difficult line or challenge while wingsuiting is fantastic. The way the sounds of the game come together really immerse you in the experience. The combination of the snow whipping around you and the sound of the wind rushing past gets the adrenaline pumping something fierce, exactly what you want from an extreme sports game!
Snowboarding and skis have very similar control styles, however being a snowboarder I naturally lean that way. Don’t expect them to behave like EA’s SSX titles however, the mechanics are totally different. You won’t be able to pull off gravity-defying super ubers that involve using the board as a helicopter blade around your neck. But you can still pull of some amazing stunts, more closely grounded to what the laws of physics would allow.
One of Steep’s key features showcased in the reveal at E3, was the ability to watch/replay/rewind/record/screenshot your run from any point along it. It works perfectly in game, allowing you to manipulate the camera around your line to look for improvements or the best shot of a jump/trick to share. The replay feature also allows you to look for possible improvements you could make in your run and letting you pick up from exactly that point along it.
During the tutorial snowboard freestyle event, focused on teaching trick controls, I miss timed a trick and ended up with a face full of snow. In the bottom left corner however the words “Good Timing” appeared, as if mockingly. From that moment I know that I’m going to enjoy the shit out of this beta and be left gasping for more when it ends.
Steep is scheduled for release December 2.