E3 2016 – Hands on: Steep

Steep was announced at Ubisoft’s media briefing earlier in the week billed as a new genre of video game. I’ll be the first to admit that I saw it as SSX Tricky meets a Go-Pro advertisement so I was pleased to be proven wrong after some in-depth hands on.

My time with the game was limited. To the point there was a timer on the screen telling me exactly how much longer I had left before I’d be cycled out to let the next few through. I did have a dev in my headset ear helpfully whisking me through a bunch of different play styles and that’s what I’ll focus on.

I began my session rigged up for a wingsuit run. Perched atop a snowy vista it was nothing more than a matter of “push forward to leap” and away you go. Flying down a gorgeous mountain side the trees scream past as you continue to build speed furiously battling with the currents of wind attacking you from every angle. The movements feel right. A motion of the thumbstick to the right and a glide of your character’s body, a pitch forward, a dive, a pull back a small increase in elevation relevant to your speed. They’ve done really well in capturing that control from best I can tell and I can only assume have done so with the help of actual wingsuit-ers?

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Whilst you may choose to follow a defined path and do your best to set a best time you really don’t have to. The mountain is at your mercy and that’s the beauty of this “game”. Instead of throwing a series of increasingly more difficult obstacles and routes you can choose your course of action and make your own fun just as you would on a real mountain side. You might not be in a wingsuit, they’re for crazy people who, unlike in a game can’t press “Y” to restart their run and plummet to their untimely demise.

A click of a button and my over the shoulder developer has clicked out to reveal the entirety of the mountain you have access to play on. It’s big. Really big and shit, rotate that stick and the mountain’s in 3D and there’s more around here. There are a lot of places to start your run in either wingsuit, snowboard or skis.

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Jumping over to one of the black runs on the other side of the mountain all of a sudden I’m snowboarding down a heavily skilled area over ice, rock and snow. My demo buddy in meat space racing with me virtually in beautiful detail as the snow makes way for our boards as they cut through it.

We begin to learn how to perform some basic tricks as we launch our virtual selves over in game ramps. All of a sudden the game starts to seem quite familiar. A pull down of the thumbstick and a flick to the top sees my snowboarder launch themselves into the air. Rotating it one way or another and then using bumpers for grabs and alike Steep’s snowboarding elements an homage to the beauty that is Skate.

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As my playtime timer ticks away and my guided runs jump from point to point all with different obstacles and challenges to overcome I find myself lost in the beauty of the game. Such a simple premise so beautifully executed Steep could turn out to be a little sleeper hit if priced correctly.

Is it a new genre? I think that could be taking things a tad too far. Is it a tonne of fun that has a lot of replayability and in-depth skill systems to it? Definitely! Keep Steep on your radar and do your best to ignore the blatant Go-Pro tie ins.

Reckoner had its humble beginnings way back in June of 2013.

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