Extreme sports games are few and far between, and this scarcity could be due to the fact that there’s likely a limit on what developers can do with them. Ubisoft’s newest extreme sports title, Steep, is taking this challenge head-on with a balance of high-octane snow sports and skydiving meant to get the pulse pounding. The question remains, does Steep manage to go above and beyond the games that have revolutionized the genre already?
Steep‘s key selling point, around which the entire game’s format is based, is the ability to seamlessly switch between skiing, snowboarding, skydiving, and paragliding based on what a particular situation calls for, or just what the player is feeling. Unlike its contemporaries, Steep doesn’t limit specific events to specific tracks, instead giving players a massively lengthy playground of snow and drops they can experience in a variety of ways. If players get stuck, or just wish to tackle something else, a few quick button presses will have them falling from the sky or cruising down a new slope.
This effortless transitioning may be enough to sell it to fans, but it’s hard to shake the idea that its individual components have already been tackled by other, older games. For Steep to retread gameplay we’ve seen elsewhere, sometimes with a deeper execution of these specific sports, and sometimes with a wider variety of other, non-sports gameplay makes Ubisoft’s latest feel like a risky proposition.
Consider that skydiving is already available in Grand Theft Auto V and Just Cause 3, both of which offer shooting and a wide variety of other action gameplay, as well. Then there’s 2012’s SSX, a snow sports game that shirked realistic physics to provide gamers with the most spectacular presentation of snowboarding and skiing possible. That approach sits in sharp contrast to Steep‘s more grounded execution of snow sports.
While there’s no doubt that Steep‘s authenticity and open-world may be a selling point for some, what I’ve seen of Steep‘s gameplay so far feels at odds with the tone of Ubisoft’s announcement and the game’s first trailer. Early marketing materials pump it up as an amped-up, over-the-top avalanche of an experience, not as anything close to a simulation. When other games already offer more extreme versions of these same sports?and plenty of other equally extreme diversions?Steep might be setting itself up for an anticlimax.
Hopefully Steep shows fans a few more tricks to push it over the edge before its launch this winter on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.