Riders Republic is a nostalgic and fitting return to extreme sports titles from previous generations.
I’ll admit it. Riders Republic surprised me. It was a game that I had little interest in going into launch, but after not caring for Far Cry 6, I was looking for something to play. Ubisoft’s last open-world sports game, Steep, was fun but didn’t have the same magic as some of the other arcadey sports titles. Riders Republic manages to bring the charm that Steep was missing.
Immediately, Riders Republic throws players into a montage of extreme sports, giving them a taste of each event and what to expect. You’ll race your way down mountains, glide over mountain peaks, and carve up countless mountain snow runs. There are a few different sports here, with two different styles in each. Snow events have tricks and races, bike events have tricks and races, while air events have wingsuits and rocket suits.
The air events were my favorite, specifically the wingsuit events. These were the more difficult portions of Riders Republic, as they task players with flying as close to the ground as possible and avoiding obstacles in order to rack up points. There are a lot of events to take on in the open world. Ubisoft’s previous open-world titles should give a pretty good idea of what to expect with the sheer magnitude of things to do and little secrets to find.
Just don’t expect a great, in-depth story. The narrative of Riders Republic takes a back seat to the moment-to-moment gameplay. It’s fine though because I don’t care about the no-name character rising up the extreme sports’ ranks, I just care about going down a mountain as fast as possible.
It’s easy to see how Riders Republic could be a bit repetitive after a while. I played it for almost a week straight, completing every main event and big event in the game. Throughout the game, you’ll do the same thing over and over on similar tracks. Luckily, there are enough different types of events that you won’t run the same type of event more than a couple of times in a row unless you want to.
Also mixed in are Shackdaddy events. These wacky events help mix up the formula. You’ll end up tasked with fun and unique situations in those events like delivering pizzas or racing down a mountainside on a surfboard through deep snow. These events reminded me of the “XTREME” guys from Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, which is the deepest compliment I can give.
Along with the Shackdaddy events are stunts to take on – 23 of them to be exact, which are often much more challenging than most of the main events. One had me riding a bike over a canyon on a tight-rope-sized beam, while another one had me piloting my bike across desert mountain pillars, jumping over tons of gaps along the way. Falling doesn’t mean failure, as a rewind feature (which works in every event) can bring you back to a more manageable position for success. Each main event has starts that increase a player’s prestige level; rewinding locks players out of a few stars in almost every event. So while it’s a useful tool, it often means players miss out on stars.
In addition to your star level, each type of event (snow, air, bike) has a career level that unlocks more and more events as that level increases. Generally, just completing an event of that type will give you enough experience in that path to be notable, even if you don’t unlock any of the stars for it or do particularly well. However, Riders Republic is easy enough to pick up and learn that most players won’t have much trouble.
The world here is massive. There are not only events and stunts but notable locations and unique relics to track down. The locations highlight distinct mountain ranges or other locations like Joshua Tree that are a sight to behold. The world is beautifully rendered; while weather isn’t dynamic, different weather during events or time of day changes really show varying parts of the world in a different light.
Traversal is sometimes a chore
After going from event to event for a while, it becomes kind of boring to traverse the world. To compensate, players have two choices: fast travel or exploration vehicles. There are fast travel points near every event, and then you can use things like snowmobiles or rocket skis to reach your destination. I generally opted to fast travel near an event and then use the rocket wings, a jet pack if you will, to navigate to the final destination.
I easily put 30+ hours into the main campaign, and then there are a handful of multiplayer modes to sink your teeth into. Mass races send out a notification to get to a certain point. Once there, it puts players into a group of 64 players and has them race across a few different types of events. These mass races are utter chaos and fun. One race had me start on a bike, switch to rocket skis to blast down the mountain, and then close out on a rocket suit. One of the other online modes is a 6v6 arena mode, but the few times I tried to join a match to battle over a skate park, it never found a match for me. So I didn’t get the chance to try it.
Riders Republic isn’t without fault. Sometimes during a race, I would crash on nothing or other ramps wouldn’t give me the height I was expecting due to weird momentum glitches. The biggest offender here was the common game crashing. Every few hours my game would freeze; I would have to kill the application just to launch back in. Other times my game would disconnect from the server randomly. I’d have to load back in, even if I was in the middle of a race.
More than a few times, my game crashed my entire console and it would hard reset (I was playing on Xbox Series X). These were the biggest performance issues I had during my time with Riders Republic, and the few friends I know who were also playing experienced similar crashing issues.
Riders Republic is a stellar throwback to the arcadey sports games from previous generations. It’s an often exhilarating title that doesn’t really outstay its welcome, as long as you’re willing to bounce around different types of events. Clearing an area doesn’t mean you’re finished there, as more and more events pop up as you progress, and there is more than enough content here to keep players entertained for hours and hours.
Game Freaks 365 received a review copy.