Steep is a game that I didn’t know I wanted. I spent most of my teen years throwing myself down hills at stupid speeds on skateboards, so the adrenaline-fueled kid inside me was super keen for Steep when I first heard about it. The concept of having an open world to pick your favourite winter sport, drop in wherever you like and just go wild – that’s something I can get behind. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen so far, Steep doesn’t quite hit the mark for me, which is a real shame.
Before I get too into this, I will say that as of writing this, I have not yet played the finished version of the game. I should also mention that the jump from the Alpha to the Beta was pretty big in terms of fixing issues. In the interest of keeping this short and sweet, I will start with what I am not loving about the preview builds I have spent time with.For starters, multiplayer is a bit confusing and janky. The idea of meeting up with my pals at the top of a mountain, choosing one of the four extreme winter sports (snowboarding, skiing, paragliding and wingsuiting), then setting challenges, or even just cruising to the bottom together – that sounds great. My experiences so far have been a bit tricky. I still haven’t been able to get a smooth game going with anyone online, which is a shame. My opponents are constantly rubber-banding, dropping out or just not showing up. Again, these are preview builds I’m talking about so hopefully these issues are all resolved by the time the game is launched.
The other thing, and this is kind of where Steep loses me, is that the game just isn’t smooth at this stage. If the game plays mostly the same as what I have experienced at launch, then I think it will be a miss. The thing about snow sports is that is supposed to be smooth, slick, fluid. You’re supposed to be virtually carving the snow covered mountains, gliding down massive hills and launching off massive jumps. For the most part, I have found the game to be a bit clunky in everything it does. Snowboarding sees you finding some really nice moments occasionally where you will carve nicely down a mountain using the left stick to control speed and turning, and the right stick to control carving – I think? I’ve never managed to pull off a trick on purpose as the controls for tricks are even more ambiguous. I often over rotate spins and flips and couldn’t for the life of me tell you how to do even the simplest of grabs on purpose. I found skiing to be a little more fluid but it still suffers from silly things – like spotting something like a snow-covered rooftop that is obviously a jump, aiming for it and crashing right at the base of the jump even though it was lined up perfectly. Paragliding is by far the worst and I actively avoided those challenges as they just weren’t for me.I feel like these little things aren’t enough to ruin the game entirely, but definitely don’t make it as good as it could be. I found myself carving away from jumps and obstacles to avoid possibly crashing and breaking a clean line, which is a shame. It’s a good thing that Steep doesn’t punish you if you don’t do tricks. You can do just about anything from cruising around, exploring or doing tricks and still level up. One gripe I have is that there doesn’t seem to be any grind tricks, or any obstacles that could support you doing even something like a boardslide – super weird! Another feature I would love to see implemented is being able to pull your parachute from your snowboard or skis, that way you can do a huge, impossible to land jump, pull your parachute mid-air and land safely.
There are some really cool parts to this game though, including the wingsuit. I thought Just Cause wingsuiting was the best it could get and oh how wrong I was! Wingsuit flight in Steep is everything that the other sports are not. It’s slick, fluid, frightening and a whole lot of fun. I almost feel like the game could support itself just on this mode alone. Picking a jump spot, flying down a mountain at stupid speeds, dodging trees and obstacles to score points then finally pulling your parachute at the last second – it’s a blast! I really hope they get multiplayer working for this mode, because that is a game I would love to play. I didn’t even mention the first-person GoPro mode which makes things even more sketchy as you hurtle down the mountain and all you can hear is heavy breathing and a heartbeat. I will happily applaud Ubisoft for making this mode so much fun!
All in all, I think the game has an incredible concept. Steep has given me an idea for a game that up until I played it, I didn’t know I needed. I want to be able to snowboard down a mountain, smoothly tricking off of crazy jumps, film the line, share it and challenge my friends to beat it. I want to be flying down the side of a rocky cliff in my wingsuit with my friends by my side, threading the needle through naturally formed obstacles and avoiding crashing. I want to make all these crazy stories and more, then share them. It’s all doable in Steep, just not quite as good as I want it to be.
I want Steep to be great and with any luck, this could be the best extreme sports game we’ve seen in a while. I am a huge fan of the Skate series and I think this has the potential to rival it. The adrenaline is there, the sports are rad and the fun is just waiting to happen. I guess now all we have to do is hold our breath and wait for the game to release.