I have great memories of playing snowboarding games like 1080 Snowboarding and SSX Tricky until the sun came up.  Steep has been on my radar for a bit and Ubisoft had an open beta this past weekend just ahead of the December 2 release date.  If you’re on the fence or just looking for some info during this packed holiday release season, look no further.

Find that perfect run and nail it in Steep.
Find that perfect run and nail it in Steep.

Four ways to get down the mountain

Steep lets you freely pick between one of the four activities pictured above: skiing, snowboarding, wingsuit flying, and paragliding.  There’s no need to go back to any central hub town or a menu to swap between activities as you can pick on the fly with a selection wheel.  Each activity is fairly light in terms of controls and intricacies — skiing and snowboarding involve timing jumps and a few simple tricks while wingsuit flying and paragliding are more or less steering.

You’ll score points differently based on which activity you’re currently in.  Skiing and snowboarding will net you points by performing tricks and brushing closely with obstacles.  Wingsuit gliding and paragliding mainly score you based on close fly to the mountain/ground.  To my surprise, wingsuit gliding was far and away my favorite of the four activities.  It’s a rush to try and stay as close to the ground as possible without slamming your poor character into the mountain.  I spent about 30 minutes of my two and a half hours in Steep trying to get the best run I could on a wingsuit challenge.

 

Tons of challenges and easy ways to access them

Creating your own challenges just takes a few button presses
Creating your own challenges just takes a few button presses

The Alps range in Steep has dozens and dozens of challenges for you across the four activities.  There are plenty of pre-made events waiting to be tackled with bronze, silver, and gold medal point values, each with a ghost to show you the way.  There are drop zones, i.e. fast travel points, that you can warp to at a moment’s notice to scout out the mountain and make your own runs, as well.  The game encourages that by telling you that just because a run isn’t on the map, that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

As easy as it is to pick an activity and start a challenge in Steep, it’s just as easy to crash.  One of the rank up categories is named “bone collector” for crashing at high speeds, after all.  Thankfully, Ubisoft lets you warp back to the start of your current run with a simple long press of a button.  You can zoom out to a full mountain view with similar ease.

 

When you find something cool, show it off

Finding that perfect run is the white whale of Steep and the game not only encourages you to look for that great line, but to show it off once you do.  Once you finish a run, you can select it on the map and upload it as a challenge for others after choosing the scoring type (tricks only, race mode, etc.).  You can also just share the map coordinates of any cool places you find.  Since Steep is a multiplayer-heavy game taking place in a shared world, this is going to be a huge feature.

The in-game replay mode is pretty fleshed out and lets you play, speed up, slow down, and pause the crazy action in your shots.  Your character is outfitted with a GoPro camera to help make that all possible.  One complaint that I have, and based on the Reddit comments it’s clear that I’m not alone, is that I’d like to see a free mode for the replay camera.  Having it always anchored to the player takes away from some of the stationary drone-like shots that make action sports really pop.

 

Tricks aren’t nearly as fleshed out as I had hoped

My chief disappointment with Steep is just how little of it involves tricks.  The games I mentioned earlier have a heavy lean on their tricks and scoring systems.  That’s what I was really looking forward to — half pipes, grinds, and ridiculous flips.  Unfortunately, the ski and snowboard tricks in Steep are boiled down to spins, barrel flips, and a generic grab button.  If you are looking for the next big arcade scorefest of winter sports, Steep is not the game for you.

A wintery mountain range is waiting for you.
A wintery mountain range is waiting for you.

But if you’re looking for an excuse to chill out (heh) and explore a mountain range with total freedom of how you want to get down to the bottom, Steep will be right up your alley.  I haven’t played Skate, but many are comparing the two games.  Steep is going to rely heavily on user generated runs and how easy it is to access them and it looks like Ubisoft has a good handle on how to do that.  I do see myself getting Steep, but it may not be a day one purchase for me.

What do you think?  Did you play the Steep beta this past weekend?  Will you be tearing up the mountain in a few weeks?  Let me know in the comments below!

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