Review: Steep (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Flag_of_the_United_States.svg
Title: Steep
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (18.79 GB)
Release Date: December 2, 2016
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Annecy, Ubisoft Montpellier, Ubisoft Paris, Ubisoft Kiev
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: T
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
I miss snowboarding games. When I was a kid I spent countless hours playing titles like Cool Boarders and SSX and in recent years I’ve longed for the return of a fun snowboarding game. Fast Forward to the present day and we suddenly have a few out from different companies including Steep from Ubisoft.

Steep takes extreme winter sports to the open world because it’s a Ubisoft game and they love open worlds. This one however is more than a snowboarding game since it also features wingsuit flying, paragliding, and skiing.

Since I’ve missed snowboarding games so much I spent a majority of my time on the snowboard. Controlling both the snowboard and Skis are similar as they are easy to navigate and pulling tricks off is simple to learn. You use the right and left shoulder button to control the grabs and hit R2 to do jumps.

The amount of tricks feels pretty limited as the game goes for a more realistic take on the winter sports so I wasn’t doing anything outlandish. The game does a tremendous job giving a great sense of speed when flying down a hill which feels satisfying and rewarding.

It does stumble when the character gets stuck on geometry and invisible walls which is something that pops up when trying to get to specific points of the map. There were plenty of times when I clipped a rock and was completely stuck to it and had to pull up the Mountain View map to break myself free and reset.

There’s also a quick retry button that helps immensely when you feel a run is not going your way. Holding down the reset button will bring you back to wherever you started a challenge or the last place you went full stop. Sometimes the reset will not help as on occasion I would just be reset to wherever I was bugged or glitched out, but it worked more than it failed.

… a huge open world to explore …
Steep also takes things to the air with wingsuits and parachutes. There seems to be an equal amount of challenges and races for all four of the sports and while I favored the sports on the ground, I did have fun flying around the beautiful world.

Gliding in the wingsuit is an absolute blast and probably the more challenging of the sports with timing and precision being a huge factor for success. Paragliding on the other hand is okay though it is a very slow mode. I used it more for traveling than I did partaking in any of its challenges.

Oh and if you need to just walk somewhere you can do that too, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The combination of the realism of walking in the snow and the weird geometry stuff makes for a clumsy time on foot.

Players have a huge open world to explore that’s made up of famous real world mountain ranges. Rather than separating them however, they are stitched together. This allows for the game to run without loading screens and leaves the the players the freedom to move about to their desire.

The world is huge and traveling it can take a lot of time, but there is a map called Mountain View which lets players fast travel to points of interests like races and competitions. Also available are binoculars that can be whipped out to find stuff called drop zones which open more fast travel points and potential challenges.

… coming across like a “dude-bro” …
You can obviously ignore the fast travel options and just hop on your board or take to the sky to explore the world. I enjoyed the ability to choose how I wanted to play the game and I never felt forced to do a specific sport. I had the whole world open to me and exploration is encouraged to find more races.

With that said, the experience is not perfect. I often felt a little aimless in my playthroughs. There is not a lot of guidance and I could have used some when I was looking for stuff to do.

In the end you are just gaining XP to increase your level so you can purchase more name brand products like clothing and equipment. I never felt much motivation to reach a higher XP level or attempt challenges involving my least favorite sport.

I can’t say there isn’t any guidance though because there is someone talking over the radio to you. In what I assume was the game’s attempt to capture some of the shine of Burnout Paradise, Steep has a narrator that feels too similar to DJ Atomika from Burnout. He doesn’t really add much to the experience other than giving words of encouragement and annoying the hell out of me with repetitive lines and coming across like a “dude-bro”.

In a weird choice, when you take part in important challenges you get narration from the perspective of the mountain or I think it’s the mountain speaking. The voices are in first person and describe the majestic beauty of nature.

This would be fine if there was not the “dude-bro” voice over on the radio and my character usually following these nature appreciation pieces with cheesy lines. There’s nothing like hearing how nature is beautiful and should be treasured being immediately followed by some bro shouting “Woooooo” or “this world is ours for the taking.”

… capture the perfect mood for your session …
Add to that the cringe worthy product placement scattered throughout the game and it is easy to have conflicted feelings on the experience. I understand that advertising has its purpose in sports games since companies do sponsor sporting events in real life. Though I do have to shake my head when I hop off the Red Bull helicopter and my character is holding a can of Red Bull and chugs it down before I can take control.

Visuals:
Steep is one of the better looking sports games I have played on the PS4. The snow looks phenomenal with some decent effects accompanying the action that help create a real sense of speed.

Vistas look beautiful, especially when the sun is going down and the game even lets you control the time of the day if you want to capture the perfect mood for your session.

I rarely ran into technical issues outside of the character getting stuck. The framerate was solid throughout my time playing which is impressive, especially when gliding at fast speeds while using the wingsuit.

I could nitpick little things like the walking animations being a little funky, but what really matters is how the actions look and feel and I think the game looks pretty good.

Audio:
I do have issues with a lot of the voice work. It’s not that all the voice acting is bad, it’s more that the overall voice work is uneven. The idea of having the mountains speak with passion and elegance feels so out of place with the dull character and annoying radio DJ being the main voice components.

… when the servers are down you cannot play the game at all …
Music is not a huge part of the game which feels like a missed opportunity. I only really ever noticed music when I was doing a challenge, otherwise I only had the sounds of nature accompanying me while traversing the mountains. When I did notice the music it was fine, nothing special, just exactly what one would expect from this sort of game.

Online/Multiplayer:
Steep is an online only experience for better or worse. A positive of an always online experience is that your world is constantly being filled with other players.

You can group up with them, tackle challenges together, compete or just ride around. I mostly played without interacting with other players, but it was cool to see people roaming around the map and giving the mountain ranges a realistic vibe.

The downside of the online is that when the servers are down you cannot play the game at all. The first couple days I played I had issues loading in and while the game’s servers have become more stable, they are not without problems. I’ve been dropped from the servers a couple times and that sucks especially when trying to complete a challenge.

The servers have been more good than they have been bad, but an offline option would have been much appreciated.

… it’s a capable and fun take …
Conclusion:
I enjoyed Steep and I can see myself continuing to enjoy it in the future. There is a solid foundation here and while there are some flaws, the core gameplay is fun enough to overcome them.

The story, or lack thereof, is uneven but easily skippable. If you are a fan of snowboarding, skiing, paragliding, or wingsuit flying then I recommend checking the game out as it’s a capable and fun take on those sports. If you have a shaky internet connection though, you might have to look into the other options.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Flag_of_the_United_States.svg
Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg
Flag_of_Canada.svg

 

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook
  • Nice review, thank you. Sounds similar to The Crew, but without the story and, well, cars! As it happens, it’s only £24.99 on Amazon today, ordered!

    • MJC

      That’s a damn good price for Steep.

  • Did your snowboarder who jumped out of the red bull helicopter happen to be donning an exclusive Red Bull skin? If there ever was a sentence to get the red highlight treatment in a review, I’m surprised it was not that one 😉

    • MJC

      I didn’t earn the Red Bull outfit yet.