Steep’s high-speed, GoPro-enhanced approach to winter sports is edging ever closer to its December launch, and attendees at PAX West got a chance to sample its open-world version of the Alps over the weekend. The 20-minute demo included a handful of stunt and race challenges for skiers and snowboarders, as well as a couple of wingsuit runs for the truly brave. Naturally, UbiBlog took its own run at the demo, and our editors came away with a better sense of how Steep’s wide-open approach to action sports is shaping up.
Mikel: The biggest thing that I think sets Steep apart from its competition is the level of freedom you have in tackling the Alps and their challenges. Not only is this an open world with challenges you can tackle in any order, but your ability to switch sports at any time lets you approach those challenges in different ways. Snowboarding is fast and the tricks are a lot of fun to pull off, but skiing has a remarkably different feel, with a more refined sense of control (which can be especially useful when facing tight turns and narrow platforms) and the ability to tackle courses while rocketing downhill in reverse. Ditto paragliding versus the wingsuit, with the former offering a more relaxed way to take in the scenery, and the latter giving you the chance to crash headfirst into trees and boulders at absurd speeds. (Or dodge them, although I don’t think I’ve ever winced quite as hard at a character smashing into something as I have witnessing a Steep wingsuit crash.)
Giancarlo: I noticed that, too. I really enjoy doing tricks during the snowboarding runs, but there’s something about that skiing in Steep that’s just very fluid and a little more forgiving than some of the other sports. In fact, I found myself getting accustomed to the skiing so quickly that I immediately went looking for one of the more challenging runs in the demo. After a few minutes, I came across one that was quite a bit different from what we’ve seen so far, in that it wasn’t just me and the mountain. Rather, it was me, the mountain, and quite a few man-made objects in my path that really illustrated how much precision movement some of the more challenging courses require.
But you know what really stuck out to me? We started indirectly challenging each other to do better on the same runs, since we were able to play the demo side-by-side. It wasn’t quite the multiplayer experience that the final version of Steep will offer, but it certainly gave a taste of the competitive aspects of the game. Going back and forth on that really tough wingsuit challenge was a lot of fun.
Andy: I found myself trying to perfect my line and trick score by doing one of the freestyle challenges repeatedly. The challenge takes place in a really cool zone with multiple stage cliff drops, trees, and plenty of natural kickers to air off of. I rode it on a board once just to see how it felt, and it was so playful and effortlessly fun. Then my lifelong love of skiing took over, so I switched over to that, and I must’ve charged this zone like 20 times before my time with the game was up. Thank goodness for the quick restarts. Each time I dropped in, I was on the lookout for features I hadn’t tried to air off of yet, and I eventually found a huge cliff I could triple-backflip off. It was sick. I attempted to make every air look pretty, by using the triggers combined with the direction of the right stick to initiate grabs, like a Japan air, or a truck driver. I also really appreciated the ability to shmear my skis around 180 degrees while on the ground by pushing the two analog sticks in opposite directions if I wanted to change from switch (backwards) to regular. I kept besting my high score on this challenge, and although that was satisfying by itself, I can’t wait to share it online and see other rider’s perfect runs down this zone.
Chris: At the beginning of each challenge run, I found myself hesitating. Not because I was reluctant to bomb down a crevasse in my wingsuit or navigate glacial outcroppings on skis, but because I wanted to look around and take in the sights. I would circle the camera around my character from a low angle, which made me feel like the star of a Michael Bay movie and gave me a great view of the surrounding mountains. That’s mountains, plural, because even though the open world of Steep is all connected, it sprawls across many different peaks that lead to a ton of different terrain. From one vantage point, I could see rocky chutes, copses of trees, fields of powder, and a small village, each one beckoning to me. When I ski in real life, I like to let the terrain guide me and shape my run. Getting this same sensation in Steep, and knowing how much terrain there is to explore, made me really excited to get my hands on the full game.
Mikel: Yeah, while the premade runs in the demo were a fun way to get a feel for Steep, one of the coolest things about this game is that you’ll be able to explore the Alps on your own, discovering new courses and creating new ones to challenge other people with. There’s a lot of variety in the obstacles, ramps, and inclines you’ll discover while blasting down the slopes on your own. And being able to fast-travel to higher points on the mountain should neatly eliminate any need for lifts or uphill trudging.
Steep is scheduled for release on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on December 2. For more information on the game, check out our previous coverage: