What is Steep?
Steep is one of the few online open world extreme sports video games of the decade. Developed and published by Ubisoft it can be played on Xbox One consoles, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows systems. Its simple and short single player campaign serves as a warm-up for an exciting multiplayer. After spending a long time in better testing, the game was released in early 2017 and brought tens of thousands of people to the arena of winter sporting challenges.
Key facts about Steep
- Steep has four different methods of transport and various winter sporting challenges.
- The game looks amazing on both consoles and PCs, featuring state-of-the-art graphics.
- Steep has no loading screens, despite its large maps and fancy visuals.
- All popular winter extreme sports can be played here in a casual or competitive mode.
- Steep received some criticism for its take on mountain stories and shallow rewards.
Gameplay of Steep
Steep gameplay benefits greatly from the fact that players can easily switch between the four main activities. Skiing, paragliding, snowboarding and wingsuit flying are the four options and all of them are pretty exciting. The paragliding events are the ones that are more likely to get boring at some point, as they tend to get repetitive. The game uses the GoPro camera technology to make players feel like they’re actually on the slopes or flying midair.
Playing on your own is only going to diminish the fun, because this is a game focused on the online environment. The gameplay of Steep truly shines when dozens of players enter the same environment and engage in sports activities. Customization is at the core of these adventures, with players being in complete control of all their interactions. For example, one can decide to switch on or off the collide feature, which just as the name suggests, enables them to collide with fellow players.
The entire game revolves around the concept of a huge open world that players can roam freely. Given the quality of the graphics and the sheer fun of exploration, many choose to interactively move across the maps. The alternative is to use the fast travel points scattered across it in designated drop zones. In addition to competing in various events, players can unlock new challenges, rewards and find hidden races. Special equipment such as binoculars allows them to discover remote locations.
Steep has a trick system for those who want to take extreme sports to the next level and impress fellow players. Those who use the special techniques to perform more complex moves, will receive more points if victorious. The successful completion of a race will result in players receiving a special medal.
Plot of Steep
The best part about extreme sports in that they allow players to write their own story. That’s probably why the developers didn’t pay too much attention to the crafting of a proper Steep plot. Instead, players can use the trick system and sign up for more activities, to make the most of their time online. They also have the option of ramping up the interactions with fellow players, by sharing their trails. It is also possible to issue challenges that others will try to complete and improve your own performance.
At the cornerstone of the Steep single player is the replay system, with these short videos being also shareable across the community. Ubisoft chose not to implement a tutorial, but instead encouraged players to learn from their own mistakes. There are several play styles that players can choose from in order to complete the so-called single player campaign. Those who fancy exploration are obviously supposed to choose the Explorer style which has them roaming across the maps.
The Freestyler is centered on performing precision tricks, while the Bone Collector playstyle encourages players to get creative. They actually score points when crashing during risky stunts, so it appeals more to those who are not afraid of failure. The Freerider playstyle is a combination of the above and will reward players based on a more complex rating system.
These game modes look and feel fun enough, but unfortunately players can’t choose a single one and run with it. To complete the single player campaign, you need to follow the sample guidelines provided by the game. Otherwise, there is a real chance that you won’t accumulate the necessary XP needed to unlock the final peak. Sadly, there’s no possibility to upgrade the gear or unlock new equipment.
Development of Steep
Ubisoft wanted Steep to be something truly different in the world of extreme sports video games. The development studio was working simultaneously on other titles, but still managed to meet the deadlines. The French division is the same that has produced multiplayer modes for some of the blockbuster games. Among the titles they worked on, it is worth mentioning Assassins Creed Unity, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist and Tom Clancy’s the Division.
The developers resided close to the French Alps and they probably love winter sports too. It comes as no surprise they chose this location as a source of inspiration. The emphasis was on creating an environment that brilliantly succeeds at capturing the very essence of these mountains. The large open world concept forced developers to spend more time on the project. To keep the interest intact, they released trailers, teasers and a flurry of screenshots.
Right from the start, the game was supposed to have a reasonable learning curve that would make it attractive for those unfamiliar with extreme sports. They spent a lot of time discussing the game with experts and professionals, to make Steep as accurate as possible. Louis Aikins, Sammy Luebke, and Horacio Llorens are some of the people that lent a helping hand with the development. Unfortunately, Matilda Rapaport, a professional skier that was shooting a video for the game died in an avalanche.
Where can I download Steep?
Steep was revealed in 2016 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. This is when the first trailers surfaced and those who are convinced by their quality have the option of pre-ordering the game. It became available in December 2016 and the developers announced that a downloadable content pack will follow. For the time being, players have to settle for the maps available, but Alaska will be introduced as a new region in a not so distant future. With Nintendo announcing the release of its Switch console, the developers reacted promptly. In 2017, the owners of such a device will be able to play the game on it.
What are others saying about Steep?
The imminent release of Steep was anticipated with enthusiasm by the fans of extreme winter sports. There's a scarcity of such games and that’s why players were willing to overlook most of its flaws and shortcomings. Players were fascinated by the magnitude of the maps, the attention paid to details and the beautiful graphics.
The four activities didn’t enjoy the same praise, with skiing and snowboarding being the most popular. Wingsuit flying has its dedicated group of fans, while paragliding is regarded as the most boring part. Steep reviews written by the critics generally reflect the attitude expressed by regular players. People were hoping for more customization options and better rewards for those who complete hard challenges.
My rating of Steep
Steep felt like the kind of game you can enjoy over the course of one weekend, then put it away and never play again. This was the first impression after playing a couple of hours and switching from one activity to the other. The good news is that after you take the first break, the magnificent environments linger in your mind. Initially, I went back just to explore them a little longer. I found it impossible to resist the temptation of completing one more challenge.
I agree with those who think that paragliding is the least exciting of the four. At the same time, this is the best way to admire the huge open world. That’s also the perfect way to take a short break from more intense challenges. Steep is a really good choice for the cold season, especially if you like winter sports but don’t have a mountain nearby.
In my case, a perfectly good mountain for winter sports is just 30 km away, but I’m just not cut for the extreme. Instead, I’ll gladly spend some time performing trick moves on the virtual slopes of Steep. This game is far from perfect, but it’s probably the best videogame dedicated to extreme winter sports. I commend the developers for their achievement and rate this game 8.5/10.