STEEP is an open-world winter sports game, where you can ski, snowboard, wingsuit jump and paraglide where ever you want, with challenges and mountain stories to discover as you play. Is STEEP worth ‘plow-ing’ into? Read our review to find out..
There’s not been much in the way of winter sports games of the past few years, and Ubisoft have attempted to fill the void with their new game STEEP. It’s a bit hit and miss throughout, with it’s biggest downside being that you must be online to play. I get the concept of it being a game that they wanted to build a community around, where you can jump online with 3 friends, or even team up with random people that you can stumble across whilst playing. It would have been nice for there to have been an offline mode, where not only could you play without the constant invites to join a group with random players, but also give those that are unfortunate enough to not have an internet connection to play the game.
Anyway, with that gripe out of the way, the game is simply breath taking to look at, the amount of detail and the size of the world is immense. The fact that the game doesn’t need to load at all once you’re in and playing makes it even more staggering. You can fast travel to any location that you’ve unlocked pretty much instantly. With the biggest ‘yes’ factor being that restarting a challenge or run is instant, which will come in handy later in the game when it starts to get a little more difficult.
At first you’re thrown in with a bunch of tutorials with voice overs and video clips. It can be a little confusing and once it’s over there’s not much telling you what you should be doing next all too clearly. Once you do get your head around the cumbersome UI it does get a little easier, learning to pay attention to the map markers, and take note of the ones that have a ping of light coming off of them as these seem to be ones that will trigger some form of dialogue. Although the game doesn’t have a story as such, your guide will from time to time talk about “doing ‘X’ challenge for person ‘Y’ as they want to record it and they have links to Hollywood” etc. There’s also mountain stories to find throughout the world too, rather strange having a mountain talk to you, but some of the stories are the best experiences I’ve had while playing STEEP.
Aside from being able to walk everywhere, you can also travel around using any of the four winter sports disciplines that are in the game, which can be switched to at any given time while out free-roaming. These consist of Skiing, Snowboarding, Wingsuits and Paragliding. Skiing and Snowboarding are probably the two disciplines you’ll use the most, as using the wingsuit will require you to be up high somewhere preferably on an outcrop so you can get some wind beneath you when you jump. Paragliding is a little boring compared to the other three, but I did enjoy a good 20+ minute fly around the map using the up-drafts on mountain sides to keep me going.
Levelling up also seems a little pointless, aside from it unlocking new challenges as you play, there’s no real reward as the equipment and other gear you unlock (of which there’s loads) appear to be visual only. A missed opportunity here to add some boards that, let’s say handle better, jump higher or can take more of a bump on landings, etc. It would definitely give more incentive to keep playing as once you’ve had about 5-6 hours of playing, it starts to get a bit stale and becomes more of an in-between game, that you can play for 20 or so minutes between Call of Duty and Battlefield.
Control wise it’s fairly easy to pick up, give yourself 30 minutes to an hour, and you’ll have the basics down to a tee. Mastering them though will take much longer and you’ll start to notice the precision needed a little more once you start to unlock some of the harder challenges. This is where you’ll be glad about the afore mentioned instant restarts, as you’ll be needing plenty of them if you want to gold medal each and every challenge. Things can get a little tricky if you happen to get stuck, which can happen in a few places, sides of buildings and certain nooks and crannies on mountain sides. This can be a little frustrating as you’ll have to restart your run again, as the only way to get out of some of these spots is to switch to walk mode which in turn will cancel the current challenge, the same goes for trying to pause the game, you’ll be back at the start once you realise your mistake in trying to pause an always online game..
Visually, as I’ve already mentioned the game is stunning, From the twinkling of snow on the ground, the way it deforms under your board, to the great draw distance. I can’t fault it at all in this area. The same goes for the audio, while there’s not much to snowy mountains other than the roar of the wind. STEEP does feature a pretty decent soundtrack which includes Chill, Electro, Hip Hop, Rock and Zikali which you can listen too either mixed or in their own playlists.