(PS4 / PlayStation 4)

Steep (PS4 / PlayStation 4)

Game Review

Steep Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Alex Stinton

Peak performer

Extreme sports of the wintry variety clearly aren't for the faint-hearted, and anyone that partakes in snowy slopes that have more in common with the vertical than the horizontal need their head examined. Not only is it dangerous but it also happens to be bloody expensive to boot, which means that most of us will only ever be exposed to this world through either the Winter Olympics or the occasional video game.

With Steep, Ubisoft aims to capture the thrill of these extreme sports – minus the broken bones and empty bank account – by rolling up skiing, snowboarding, paragliding, and flying a wingsuit into a single bundle, before dropping it all into an open world packed with enough sick drops to keep any digital thrill seeker happy.

Encompassing the Alps with such big name mountains as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, Steep's game world offers well over a hundred challenges across its four disciplines. What you end up doing in these challenges generally depends on which of the sports it relates to, but even within each one you'll find some welcome variety which enables you to bounce around and avoid doing the same sort of events in quick succession.

It's also really nice to see some events try to get away from the usual races and trick challenges – even if these only turn up occasionally – and Steep feels at its strongest when it gives you a distant point to reach and leaves you to find your own way. Anytime you're asked to hit a specific set of checkpoints, the possibilities of the open world narrow, and while it's all still fun, there's nothing quite like the freedom of heading for a point way off in the distance with no idea what terrain lies between you and your goal.

To its credit, Steep does get the most important things right. Chief among these is the sense of speed it manages to convey when you're flying down – or over – its many slopes. This makes the faster challenges enjoyably intense, and you'll often feel like you're right on the cusp of losing control and careening off a precipitous drop. In addition, all of the different methods of traversal control really well, and anyone familiar with SSX or other such titles will pick it up quite quickly.

That said, there are a couple of odd exceptions where Steep does a really bad job of explaining how things work. The first of these is the paragliding, where you rely on updrafts to gain altitude and economy of motion is the key to a fast time. Strangely, neither of these nuances are clearly explained at any point during Steep's lengthy tutorial, and you'll be confused as to why your performances are falling short until you eventually – by trial and error – work it out for yourself.

The second area is the G-Force system that acts as a sort of health meter for your character. Should you take a heavy impact, or stray off the snow too far, then the gauge will deplete, but this can be replenished by riding cleanly or by getting your velocity under control, thereby avoiding wiping out. It's a nice little mechanic that adds a nuance and strategy to controlling your speed, but again it's hardly explained to the player, making it seem fickle and inconsistent until, after a fair few hours, you finally get to grips with it.

When not taking part in any of the challenges, you're free to roam around the open world, switching whenever you like between the four disciplines, while also soaking up the atmosphere. Hunting down drop zones – which act as fast travel points – uncovers new challenges and activities, and on your travels you'll come across other players roaming the countryside as part of the seamless online play that's supposed to be a big part of Steep.

This element feels less adversarial and much more social than the usual multiplayer, especially when you're trying to play the same challenges, as it's hard to coordinate things so you all start at the same time. As a result it doesn't feel like a critical part of the experience and you'll probably run through the game predominantly solo, happy to leave the other players to act as window dressing for the open world, or some comedic relief when they crash spectacularly in front of you.

With numerous mountains and valleys for you to explore, the snowy landscape looks really nice, especially as the time of day and weather conditions change. It also runs really well on the PlayStation 4 Pro with a framerate that, while not locked at 60 frames-per-second, is close enough that you'll never feel like it's causing a problem. The sound design's strong as well, evoking the atmosphere of snow swept peaks by downplaying its licensed soundtrack in favour of cranking up the ever present sound of rushing wind and skis on snow to great effect.

Conclusion

Steep is very successful at capturing the breakneck exhilaration of Alpine extreme sports, and with an atmospheric open world that's packed full of enjoyable challenges it picks up the mantel dropped by the likes of SSX well. While it doesn't quite hit the lofty peaks it's aiming for – mainly due to some poorly explained mechanics and the underwhelming multiplayer – you won't be piste-off if you decide to take the plunge.

Game Trailer

User Comments (29)

THEundying27

#4

THEundying27 said:

Thanks for the quick replies! Yeah I'm so tempted to take the plunge on this one. I'm just afraid I won't like it.

get2sammyb

#5

get2sammyb said:

It does sound pretty good. I think I'd enjoy something like this, but even at £25 it seems a bit too... steep for me!

hadlee73

#9

hadlee73 said:

I was quite keen on this until I started watching preview gameplay footage, and then changed my mind once I found myself yawning a lot.

SonuvLiberty

#12

SonuvLiberty said:

@AlexStinton Dang ... Too bad... Welp way to go Ubisoft thats three games I wont buy from you now. The Crew, For Honor, and Steep. Its funny how they went from one of my favorite publishers to one of my least respected. Whatever their loss...

frankmcma

#13

frankmcma said:

@SonuvLiberty Yep me too. I don't know why they don't do these games like Watch Dogs 2, you toggle on online and you can use the features, or you turn it off and it's a contained off-line single player game. The danger is that I will love the game and then a year or two from now because of poor sales the Steep servers will go offline. I too am passing on games I would love to get (The Crew would be right up my ally) when I hear they require an always-on online connection. I think companies will learn this eventually, give players the option for on or off, I just wish they would learn it faster.

AlexStinton

#16

AlexStinton said:

@Jake3103 You can play without a PS+ subscription but you won't be able to do the multiplayer stuff. Which is ironic since you have to be connected to the internet to play it solo in the first place.

SonuvLiberty

#17

SonuvLiberty said:

@frankmcma yeah they'll figure out eventually once they realize they are losing money which I imagine they are already. Honestly if I wanted to be online all the time I would buy a PC. I wont even start on my need for couch co-op to make a comeback.

Lovespuds

#18

Lovespuds said:

I enjoy my few hours in the recent beta but while the gameplay was really fun, the user interface, specifically the map navigation, was absolutely shocking. At this price though, I could well be tempted.

AlexStinton

#19

AlexStinton said:

@Lovespuds While they haven't fixed the map Ubisoft have patched in a menu that you can easily select challenges from. Which is great, unless you've just written a review draft where you complain that the map is crap, and you can't believe there isn't a menu you can select challenges from.

Fall1313

#20

Fall1313 said:

@frankmcma

I was really looking forward to For Honor but now I have zero interest in it because of the always online feature for single player.

special_donky

#21

special_donky said:

i read the first person view is quite shaky.A shaky camera adjustment option would be nice..Other than that seems great.

leucocyte

#22

leucocyte said:

likely sold < 10K at launch, which is why its price is slashed already. not that you needed to be mystic meg to see this. releasing the same week as FF XV, and one week after black friday, probably didn't help.

Speedy67

#23

Speedy67 said:

Got this for Christmas and it's really fun now I'm terrible at it, but if I get good at it hopefully it stays super fun!

Wazeddie22

#24

Wazeddie22 said:

Great review and its one of those games I was interested in but only if I got to try it first.Unfortunately I downloaded the Beta on day one and three days later after numerous attempts I had managed to get a go zero times!Didant say much for the main game..

JLPick

#25

JLPick said:

Don't like the fact that you have to be connected to play (since it flopped, the servers may come down very quickly, which then leaves you with nothing to play), but it looked interesting to me, since I've been waiting for some extreme sports titles to come to PS4. Guess I'll wait and hope for a new SSX to arrive...still awaiting a surfing, fishing and some more Cabela games to arrive on the PS4!!!!

JLPick

#26

JLPick said:

@frankmcma I agree with you...this is why I strayed away from Destiny, The Crew and the Plants Vs Zombies games. When the servers go offline, you're stuck with just a game that you can do nothing with, which then seems like a waste of money. I bought the whole package of 'Free Realms' on the PS3 when it arrived...loved the game and got a lot of play out of it, then the servers went down and I couldn't even play it anymore, which burned me as I was close to the final trophy for it. It's sad when you have to look at the back of the games now to see if an 'internet' connection is required or not. The other thing that makes me mad about certain games, is that you can only play them with another player if you go online only. Wasn't gaming to be fun with family and friends...sitting around the couch and playing a game together...now they're trying to even take that away, which I guess, is why I play the classic consoles or nintendo consoles with my kids and wife, shame as there's plenty of games I'd love to play together with my wife and kids.

frankmcma

#27

frankmcma said:

@JLPick I loved Free Realms! What a great game! But yes..another good example. I give a little leeway to MMO's..I can see why they need to be online all the time (such as Elder Scrolls Online) because direct interaction is a part of the expeirence, but when it comes to things like racing games or RPGs, or really any non-MMO game, give an option to toggle on or off online play. Don't make it a requirement. Or you'll lose sales.

Ryu_Niiyama

#28

Ryu_Niiyama said:

Persistent online killed any hype I had for this game. Not looking for a rental and I mostly play single player. Why don't you want my money Ubisoft?

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