Steep is a brand new open world game from Ubisoft that is aimed at the eSports crowd with a focus on extreme winter sports. The game was revealed at Ubisoft’s E3 2016 press conference and it has finally been released on the PS4, Xbox One and PC.
First of all, to get it out of way, Steep is not an easy game to get into. If you are not a fan of extreme winter sports, you will have a hard time enjoying some of the activities presented in the game. It is also the only game in quite a while that features winter sports. The last major release was SSX in 2011 published by EA.
Steep is a brand new IP from Ubisoft in an era where most of the publishers are releasing sequels for their popular IPs instead of experimenting with new ones. It is a bold step from the company who is known for their Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs series. However, the game suffers from some glaring design issues that makes it far from perfect.
If you are a fan of open world and particularly the one designed by Ubisoft, usually filled with a lot of content that is simple to execute but can often reward the player for discovery, then Steep will be the game for you. Ubisoft has managed to create a gorgeous open world for this extreme sports game that manages to capture the sheer scale and beauty of the Alpines while also giving the player full freedom to explore them as they see fit.
Steep gives the player the chance to explore these beautiful snowy mountains without any loading in between, so in that sense, it is a technically impressive game on the current generation consoles. The game has some absolutely gorgeous backgrounds in the snowy mountains but unfortunately it is hard to shake the feeling that it gets repetitive, even if we are mainly participating in an extreme sports game. The visuals offer a mixed result where the snow looks beautiful with full deformation enabled for it, while the lighting can often provide some much needed glare to the environments, but it is held back somewhat by the texture quality and the level of detail in the distance.
Steep is divided in 4 different gameplay challenges, Snowboarding, Skiing, Parachuting and Wingsuit. These tasks are all presented throughout the game completed with timed challenges that offer the player a chance to test their skills in the open world, trying to beat the bronze or gold time trials. This often results in trying to locate the shortcuts to cut some of the challenges short, which can help with securing gold and setting new record.
If you are a fan of action packed thrilling challenges, then you will enjoy your time with the wingsuit missions. They allow us to go through some of the most visually striking mountains while lining properly for rings that act as a checkpoint for the challenges. The addition of the wingsuit in Steep is perhaps the most ambitious one and with the ability to simply pick any drop point for it, this can prove to be a fanboy’s wet dream.
Players will be free to discover the whole mountain as they see fit, by using the binoculars to zoom and discover drops points throughout the world map. These drops points then unlock races, stunt trails, wingsuit events, paragliding challenges or cross-country time trials, among others. Some of these events provide a background on the story, which is minimal but works well when presented in the context of these challenges.
While the game provides tons of content, it is often held back by the controls that it offers for some of the winter sports. During our daring trek down a snowy mountain slope, there are moments of frustration when the game begins to feel unresponsive, which often dampens our overall experience. When the game does click, it provides an experience that has yet to be matched by any other game in similar genre.
Steep is a promising game from Ubisoft Annecy who appear to be on the right track with this new IP. However, it can be truly something else provided they work on it and fix some of the issues, mainly with the controller response and feedback. While it might be hard to provide an accurate experience for such an ambitious game, the sense of scale and the full freedom of utilizing any of the sports challenge gives Steep an edge over any other game in this genre, which isn’t really much of an accomplishment considering the lack of competition.
Steep is available now for the PS4, Xbox One and PC. It was developed by Ubisoft Annecy and published by Ubisoft. This review covers the PS4 version of the game.
Steep Review (PS4)
Steep is a flawed experience that attempts to remain ambitious while offering something new for the winter sports genre.