The Freedom To Do Stupid Things Is The Best Part Of Ubisoft's Steep

At any given point in Ubisoft's upcoming extreme winter sports extravaganza you can stop what you're doing, teleport to a hot air balloon and launch yourself from it wearing a nought more than a half-arsed flying squirrel costume.

The first beta weekend for Ubisoft's free-roaming extreme sports game Steep has come to a close, leaving us with the impression of a game that takes its snowy mountain fun times quite seriously, but not so seriously that players can't have plenty of good old-fashioned incredibly dangerous fun whenever they want. Even if they're recording a Kotaku Plays video.

Steep allows players to join up online and challenge some of nature's mightiest mountains, conveniently cropped together for maximum variety per acre. Players take to the slopes and skies in one of four activities.

We have skiing, the world's third-oldest way of getting down a mountain quickly (beaten by sledding at number two and falling at number one).

My dad tried to teach me to ski once. It was just like this, only a much smaller hill with more eight-year-old screaming.

If two planks and poles aren't dangerous enough for you, the game also offers snowboarding, which is just like skiing, only the music is a bit heavier.

You can only get so much air on a snowboard, so we have wingsuits. A skilled pilot of one of these babies can lick the ground at 190km per hour. Non-skilled wingsuit pilots could not be reached for comment.

And finally we have paragliding, a sport in which players hook themselves up to a giant sail-type thing, trying to hold on tight as the wind slams them into jagged rocks repeatedly.

All four of these sports are recreated as faithfully as I can imagine, having never actually participated. It's strange to say, but after years of SSX, Coolboarders and other snowboarding games, I've developed an opinion of how I think the sport should feel -- fast, urgent, exhilarating -- and Steep does a fine job carrying those same properties over into its other extreme events.

Skiing is fast and graceful. I can feel the air passing under the wingsuit fabric, keeping me afloat. Paragliding makes me feel like apologising to the wind for imagining I had any business up there.

What's neat about Steep is how much freedom players are given to explore and do their own thing. There are events to unlock and medals to be won doing them, but they can also pick a point on a mountain and just drop in. At any given time the player can hold down a button and zoom out, letting their cursor play over the vast mountaintops in search of new adventure.

It's as structured or freeform as the player wants it to be. There are key locations with series of special points to find and challenge events to complete for rewards. To some, that will be the game. To others, they will be guidelines to help frame their own alpine adventures.

As much as I enjoy earning medals, I found myself spending more and more time wandering during my hours with the beta. I'd swap between the four disciplines, seeing which worked best for the terrain I was facing (you can't ski on rocks, apparently). Every now and then I'd switch to walking in order to survey the land for new events and areas. Then I'd remember how much walking through deep snow sucks and go right back to whichever snow-based activity I was currently enamoured with.

There's a lot to do in Steep. There are five different colour-coded disciplines to master, a ton of clothing items to collect and endless ways to hurt your virtual self alone or with a group of friends. I look forward to getting some more time on the slopes during next weekend's open beta (November 18 to 21), with plans to go deep once the game launches on PS4, PC and Xbox One on December 2.


    I was hoping that a game called "Steep" was a game about making tea :(

    Maybe it's just not for me but I gave it a shot back at Pax and wasn't that excited. All the slopes I tried felt basically the same just some were insanely easy and others had me crashing into a tree/rock instantly upon starting - which brings on the bigger issue.

    For a game so close to launch it really felt buggy, I'd often get stuck or just randomly thrown around by akward camera movement/controls, some of the flags didn't seem to load for ages (if ever), etc. I honestly came away from it thinking "that's fine, it's still in development" only to read later it is about finished... Maybe the demo they had on show was an older one but if not, didn't feel like a very polished game to me.

    Freedom to do stupid things... like preorder a gane on a buggy beta having blind faith Ubisoft will fix the game based on their record of fixing buggy previous titles... hahaha stoopid

    I played the beta over the weekend on PC and a week or two back at PAX and I also came away a bit ambivalent.

    Whist the mountain is pretty and the runs challenging I felt the wing suit representation was far more arcade than I was hoping. There's no sort of glide so you can't level out or suddenly drop like a stone after losing lift. I also couldn't seem to say ski off a cliff and switch to wing suit, though maybe that's user error or maybe something that comes later.

    I think it is enjoyable enough, though I think The game Snow does a better job of the sliding sports.

    Still considering whether to buy it or wait till its 20 bucks. Probably wait.

    I sure hope there are radio towers to capture to uncover regions Oh and cabin hideouts to unlock maybe a fast travel option too? Goodie!

    I've put quite a number of hours into this including playing a lot of the Alpha version.

    If you go into this thinking it 's SSX tricky you're going to be disappointed. It's not Tony Hawk on snow, it's less arcade-y than that. The long haul 'orientation' levels are just fantastic, trying to ski/board to a specific spot whilst keeping your speed up. You look at the terrain in an entirely different way - if I hit that level bit of ground at speed can I make the next drop without stopping?

    Paragliding is meh, but I guess it breaks things up.

    Still waiting for a level where you can snowboard off a ledge & go into a skydive.

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