Adrenaline-fuelled ode to winter sports

Video game developers lead the best lives. They bring to life worlds that make millions of gamers happy. No studio is more blessed than Ubisoft Annecy, located at the base of the French Alps.

Steep, the studio’s first original project, is inspired by the view just outside their window. The game, which made quite the splash at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, is out now and we have our winter clothes on to take it for a spin.

What’s it about?

Steep is a stab at the winter extreme sports category taking paragliding, wingsuit gliding, snowboarding and skiing into an open-world representation of the Alps.

Its premise is simple: there’s a world with a lot of mountains, no restrictions for a player. Just jump in and ski, snowboard, paraglide or don your wingsuit and take the plunge. If your innards spill out or crash into a rock, no worries; just reset with a press of a button. There’s no story mode too, there’s just a persistent multiplayer that lets you view stunt replays and share. You can join other sportsmen and participate in a variety of challenges.

How does it play?

The game is modelled around seven mountains of the Alps. You can start at any point on the map by selecting any of the markers that serve as starting points.

Proceed anyway you want; just select one of four sports from a circular menu to get started. Several of the challenges have their own obstacles: there are steep declines, tiny villages to navigate, and dangerous power cables and transformers to dodge. Not to mention lots of trees and rock outcroppings.


    With snowboarding and skiing, there’s a fun and intuitive trick system that lets you jump off any ramp to score some impressive spins and rolls: one of the best parts of Steep. The sheer speed and momentum as you snowboard downhill is addictive. Plus, you can zoom out to the map and watch a replay of your run anytime you want. There are several game modes. For instance, one is called bone collector, which lets you crash spectacularly and share the experience online.

    Wingsuit gliding too is a lot of fun. It’s also simple and pretty straightforward. However, the controls take a bit of getting used to. What really holds the game back is paragliding, which is boring in its implementation. From the controls of your parachute to the trick system, paragliding is just a frustrating endeavour. What’s worse is participating in paragliding events is mandatory to fully unlock other peaks.

    Fortunately, you can pair up with other players to compete in the game world. Hopefully, Ubisoft Annecy will include a future update that let’s you unlock peaks by just participating in sports that you like doing, instead of forcing you into a funnel.

    Graphics-wise, Steep is beautiful. From the intro screens, you’re shown the full glory of the Alps, so much so you would half expect to see a Bollywood song being shot there. The knee-high snow physics react beautifully to your skiing or snowboarding. The graphics are just marred by the sheer amount of data on the screen.

    Should you get it?

    If you like winter sports, and you want something different, then Steep is the game for you. That paragliding mode is an exercise in patience though, so be warned.

    The author is a freelance tech and lifestyle writer

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    Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 6:00:06 PM |

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