The aim in Trials has always been a simple one as it is, at its heart, a physics-based platformer. On steel horse you ride from left to right, navigating all kinds of tumultuous terrain with one goal in mind, to cross the finish line in one piece. With such a basic goal making up much of the game’s central concept, you’d think there wouldn’t be room to grow over the span of a series spanning nearly two decades. And yet, the game continually manages to one-up itself with every iteration by shifting the focus. In Rising, there’s a huge emphasis on community that cuts through the core mechanics and emerges as a clear focal point. From competition to coaching, the Trials community is one that rides together.
In a world where Ubisoft games borrow bits and bobs from each other, Trials Rising uses an overworld, not unlike the one found in The Crew 2. Rising goes worldwide, spanning farther than the expanse of just the United States, but its events are laid out in a similar fashion. The game’s drip-feed of content and reward loop is super satisfying, I found myself locked right into my first session of playing Rising. With every event, I’d either rank up or unlock a new event and I found myself glued to my seat and before I knew it I’d hit rank 40 in one sitting. On top of just how addictive the game can be, the core gameplay is as fun as it has ever been. But unlike previous Trials games, Rising invests in its players.
Scattered throughout the map, spanning many continents, there are a huge variety of events your rider can make their way through. Obviously, like in all Trials games, the difficulty ramps up the deeper you make it into the game’s saddle bag of misery, with the races becoming tougher, the party events becoming exceedingly ludicrous. Achieving the best rank doesn’t let you draw a line through a level on Trials Rising though as there’s a constant rollout of contracts you’re able to complete for extra resources. These tasks can include merely beating an AI ghost, finishing a level without faulting on the pushbike or landing a certain amount of front flips and backflips without bailing once. So for now, there’s some incentive to replay the game’s many maps, though it’s hard to say whether that urge to go again and again will remain after a dozen runs when you’re inevitably well-ranked. Unless you’re unbelievably good, you’re always going to have something to strive for in Rising, you can always go quicker and you can always go faultless and I think it’s the community that fuels a lot of that competitive fire that has served Trials so well.
Beyond the regular races and party events that have become series mainstays, Rising introduces the University of Trials. It’s a series of lessons helmed by Australian superfan Professor FatShady. It goes without saying that FatShady is bullshit good at the game so his tutelage becomes invaluable as he breaks down the hardest tricks in Trials and makes them accessible for the layman. I found myself executing moves I once thought impossible. This is just one excellent way that Trials invests in its fans and the community at large. There’s also a lot of great character customisation and player-generated content to be found, though I did find that the loot crates (yeah, it’s got them) served up duplicate items like it was going out of style.
Trials hasn’t ever been known for its graphics, it has always excelled in most other areas instead. It’d be unfair to call Rising an ugly game, though the character models are hard on the eyes. The animation as always is excellent, truly capturing the fight for balance that sees your rider seesaw over the bike to keep it wheels-down, plus the rubber-boned ragdolls are as hilarious as ever. As I mentioned, the level designers have gone above and beyond in Trials Rising, even if their best efforts are often in the briefest races. There’s a particular level that I managed to get through in just over half a minute, but it was a wild ride through a cargo hold of a plane mid-flight that dealt with constant, turbulent shunts before exiting the plane in a finish so wild it’d feel at home in a Mission Impossible flick. The caterwaul of your rider returning to earth after fighting a losing battle against gravity is an iconic piece of sound design that is Trials in a nutshell, but the game’s sound design isn’t ever terribly remarkable outside of the few distinct shrieks of varying engines. That being said, Rising has a befitting soundtrack with the likes of Motörhead, Taking Back Sunday and a Chester Bennington fronted Stone Temple Pilots making up a small part of a decent list.
There’s a noticeable performance dip during some of the game’s busier maps with shuttering and drops in framerate a regular occurrence. Unfortunately, due to barren servers, I wasn’t able to get into a session of the game’s multiplayer so I can’t speak to how it runs as yet. Check back post-launch for impressions on Trials Rising’s multiplayer, which has been a huge area of focus.
I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for the Trials titles ever since Trials HD debuted last generation, there’s something about the want to do that little bit better that keeps me coming back for more. I must say the inclusion of University of Trials is a masterstroke that will serve players like me well. I’d say I’m decent without being great and I already feel like I’ve made tangible improvements to my game. With a lot of content scheduled to roll out throughout the year and a community that has always stuck by through thick and thin, Rising offers the most of any Trials game yet.
THE PS4 VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS USED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Rising is without a doubt the best Trials game yet. The community this series has garnered over the span of two decades finally gets a little of the limelight and, quite frankly, serves as the lynchpin of this game. The gameplay is as tight as ever while the tracks themselves are scintillating, showcasing the developer's creativity which is, even at this late stage of the Trials saga, first-rate.