Steep Impressions

(Originally published to Dreambubble on November 17, 2016)

Last weekend the upcoming game Steep had it’s first open beta. Steep is an extreme sports arcade/simulator game where you can ski, snowboard, wing-suit, and para-glide across a huge frozen map. This game fills a much needed sports gap in the gaming industry and looks very promising from the gameplay trailers. Enough with the prologue already, let’s get to the actual game!
(Keep in mind that these are my impressions for the OPEN BETA. Some aspects from the game may change upon full release.)

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First thing’s first, I gotta praise the game for looking great on PS4. While the graphics aren’t as jaw-dropping as some other triple-A games, its one of the best looking sports games out there. Snow deformation looks awesome and the peaking mountains look real (as opposed to a 3D model against a skybox). The animations are also top-notch with cloths flapping in the wind and characters reacting to narrowly dodged trees and rocks.

Sound design is also very convincing with ambient sounds from the mountain bringing back my memories of actually skiing! My only complaint is the in-game soundtrack. The songs aren’t very memorable and annoying at times. It would be nice if Ubisoft got the licences of better known artists.

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Unfortunately the gameplay isn’t as well polished as the graphics. While it was fun sliding/flying at break-neck speeds, the controls (especially for skiing and snowboarding) feel very sticky. It’s like you’re suction cupped to the ground instead of sliding along snow, only leaving the ground when diving off obvious cliffs and ramps. It would’ve felt a lot better if smaller bumps affected you like it does in real life. Additionally the 3rd person camera is WAY too close to the character often blocking incoming obstacles. There are also very few tricks you can do which limits score-chasing challenges in the game.
Overall it feels like the developers tried to combine Skate 3 with SSX with “okay” results. If they just loosened up the controls a tiny bit and added more tricks then this would rival those previous games.

The map in general feels kinda empty. It’s huge with challenge variety but without any recognizable landmarks it all looks very samey. I’ve gotten lost searching for a specific challenge to unlock a green jacket (Character customization is pretty good though)!

With all the negatives out of the way, what really pleases me is the replay feature. At any time after a run, you can pause the game and view a replay of the entire thing. You can do all the film editing basics like slow motion, tracking-cam, and 1st person view. The only thing that would make me happier is a free-cam for drive-by shots. I loved the Skate 3 replay feature so I’m glad triple-A devs are bringing it back! You can also set challenges to your runs but I didn’t experiment with it enough.

Last pro: there is full ragdoll physics after every fall and slam so people will definitely be uploading hilarious fails! That’s a huge plus for me!

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Right now the game is sitting at an “Alright” for me. It does have great atmosphere and detail but the gameplay needs some improvement. There will be another beta test THIS WEEKEND so I’ll update with a reply if anything improves! (also shoutout to Klaww for hooking me up with a beta code for last weeks test!)

Let me know what you guys thought of this game. This is the first sports game to catch my attention in a while so I hope I’ll have people to play with!

Update:

Writing this in the present. I have yet to own Steep, even six months after release, but I’m still waiting for a good sale to pick it up. Seems like a lot of people already forgot about this game because there’s not a whole lot of content worth the asking price of $60. I’d wait until it’s half off or something because it’s still a pretty fun game!

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