Ubisoft recently supplied us with a code for Steep, the open-world mountain game featuring extreme winter sports. Indeed, we’re a little late to the party with this review, but it’s a game worth looking into so I feel it’s necessary to share my thoughts.
What sets Steep apart from every other snowboarding/winter sports game out there is the fact that you can go almost anywhere right from the beginning. You’re dropped straight onto the mountain, and you almost instantaneously choose from four options: Skiing, Snowboarding, Paragliding, or Wingsuit. You can choose the sport using an option wheel by pressing R1 (PS4), and start your trek down the slopes. If you want to switch sports at any point, all you need to do is come to a complete stop, switch up and continue. Unlock other games in the genre, Steep doesn’t block all the much content behind requirements such as completing a specific challenge, or beating a certain event. You can literally go anywhere across multiple mountains.
As for the actual included sports, snowboarding feels best in my opinion. I’ve played my share of snowboarding games, starting with Coolboarders back on the PS1, then giving up a massive part of my life to SSX Tricky/SSX3 on PS2/PS3. Steep is nothing like those games, especially the SSX series. You can’t push through a 1080 with ease, and you can’t spin the board around your neck as you fly off a cliff. This isn’t a bad thing though because Steep feels more real, despite the fact that you can smash your body off rocks then get up and continue your descent. Skiing is fun, but I often find it harder to do quick turns and because of the length of the skis, I find they often hit obstacles during trick runs. The wingsuit requires you to be on a run with a notable drop, otherwise you’ll just crash into the ground and fail. However, don’t think there’ll be less options for this sport, because there’s enough rocks or wooden platforms scattered on the mountainside to do all the wingsuiting you could wish for. As mentioned, there is the option for paragliding, but this really isn’t a big sport in the game, and I’ll make note of its’ primary function a little later in this review.
So if you can go anywhere, and do anything from the start, what’s the point of the game? Great question. Beat records, explore new areas, and discover new drop zones and mountain ranges. You earn experience for basically everything in the game, from walking the mountain to narrowly dodging trees, rocks and all other obstacles during your descent. Experience goes towards your player level, and the higher the level, the more areas you can instantly drop in on. You can access any point on the mountain using a helicopter ticket, but these are limited and will cost you real money if you want more. This is exactly why you want to explore and level up your rider.
The courses in Steep can sometimes feel similar, but there’s also enough variety to keep anything from getting too stale. You can often go in any direction you want, so it’s essentially a different course every time you push off down the mountain. You’ll have the opportunity to do tricks, or compete in a race, and even just free ride with certain goals that you can try to hit, but there’s no punishment if you fail. There are difficulty ratings on the courses, and extreme courses, while impressive, aren’t great for a new player because they require a fair amount of skill to navigate them safely.
Steep is surely one of the best winter sports games that we’ve ever seen.
Unlocking new drop zones is pretty simple as well. Pull out your binoculars and look around, you’ll hear a chime, feel a slight rumble in your controller, and then you can look around for a marker and tag it. You have to be within 1000 meters of the zone, and within a direct line of sight to actually unlock it though. If it’s far off, you may want to equip the paraglider and take off across the mountain to make it a quicker trip.
You’ll constantly notice indicators pop onto your screen as you play, noting that you’ve gained more experience for exploring the mountain, traveling a specific distance without being interrupted, or even falling down the mountain for over thirty seconds. These updates give you a sense of accomplishment because you know that you’re unlocking new areas, accessing more of the mountain, and earning your way to the top peaks.
All in all, Steep has been a really fun experience. It started out slow, and I wasn’t too sure if I liked it, but after about 5 hours, I really started to unlock some cool drop zones and the game truly grew on me. However, there are a few things I dislike in the game. First-Person mode is an option, but it’s almost unusable because it’s so shaky, and the camera flies all over the place making it nearly impossible to do a fast run and not hit obstacles. If you suffer from motion sickness rather easily, I wouldn’t recommend it whatsoever. Secondly, you can walk on most rocky surfaces in the game… and when you’re trying to reach some really high points that require from time on foot, it makes it very frustrating to hit a slight patch of rock, only to stop dead and not be able to progress further up.
The multiplayer component in Steep feels tacked on, and it’s not really worth mentioning, and even less worth your time to actually play it. You’ll typically only see 2-3 other players on the mountain at any time. A few times, I tried to connect to other players, but I was just slapped in the face with an error, or a pretty laggy connection, but I did get into a few successful events with a friend and it was decent fun I suppose. However, Steep shines as a single player experience.
Last but not least, I’ve had the game either freeze up completely because, hey, it’s a cold, cold mountain, or I’ve had the infamous “An error has occurred” and the game quits to the PS4 dashboard. Whether that’s limited to the game, I’m unsure. I have had other games occasionally quit on me, so it could be software, and it could be hardware related.
Is Steep worth taking a look? Yes, on every front, Steep is a surprisingly fun game, but you will need to put a little time into it to start gaining easy access to the really enjoyable events. The mountains feel huge, and you’ll have many, many hours of time to discover everything it offers, and many more hours creating custom runs, saving and editing videos of your descents, and maxing out all the challenges the game has to offer. Steep is surely one of the best winter sports games that we’ve ever seen.
Intense runs across various sports. First-Person is terrible, and you can occasionally get stuck on objects though. Occasional game crashes.
From a distance, everything is stunning. Beautiful sunsets and sunrise, amazing rock formations. Snow tracks on foot could use some variety and little improvement.
Solid soundtrack with some great music for trekking the mountain. Sound effects for carving and cutting through powder are accurate.