Riders Republic, developed by Ubisoft Annecy, delivers an open world where players can participate in extreme sports. So, get ready to traverse the Republic via bike, snowboard, skis, wingsuit, or jetpack. It's about to get chaotic.
As you load up the game you will be thrust into an hour-long tutorial to make sure you know what’s what. After you have slugged through the hand holding you are free to explore! The goal is simple, compete in the many disciplined events and become the best. Sadly, the story is narrated by two brash voice actors which are more challenging to listen to than winning a Mass Race. Luckily, Rider’s Republic knows what it is, and the story dies down after the tutorial; with the voices cropping up less and less.
The events will have you mastering disciplines like the bike, and you will be travelling around the map to do so. The vast map is comprised of 7 real-life national parks. I liked this as you could spend hours exploring the wilderness and each park had its own biome and feel. Because of its setting, Riders Republic isn’t just about racing. Players can also hunt for collectibles, find viewpoints, and try their hand at stunt challenges. The stunt challenges in this game are not to be trifled with. One stunt tasked me with cycling across a ridiculously narrow beam overhanging a canyon. It's fair to say it took many attempts before I gave up on my sanity… I mean stunt.
Unfortunately, the scale of the world did cause loading time issues on the PS4. Every time I accessed the map or menu it resulted in a small loading time which wasn’t ideal.
Exploration aside. Does the game provide a good racing experience?
Ready to Race
Riders Republic’s story is about becoming the best. To do this you will take part in races and trick circuits. Eventually, these lead up to bigger events which are harder, but you will win more gear and stars. Gear will help you improve your performance and stars will level you up. During events, you will be racing player ghosts - or you can create a group to compete against friends.
The racing mechanics are typical of an arcade racer. They won’t simulate the perfect bike feel but they do provide a fun and fluid gaming experience. Bombing down steep hills is extremely satisfying and turning sharp corners, to avoid obstacles, will have you holding your breath.
Tricks on the other hand are not as easygoing. The game provides two ways to play which means you can tackle the tricks in a way that fits your style. That being said, the tricks didn’t feel as smooth as other sports games I’ve played like Steep and Tony Hawk. In the beginning, I spent most of the time falling on my face as I grappled with each trick's animation. In a way, landing big tricks now feels rewarding - but it took me a while to get there!
As you progress through the game you will unlock multi-discipline events. For me, this is where the game shines. One minute you’ll be riding through a checkpoint on your skis; the next, you’ll be flying close to mountainsides with the jetpack. It's brilliant fun! The transitions to each sport are seamless so it never ruins the race's pace. Additionally, the switch-up makes it highly entertaining and challenging.
The madness of Riders Republic will have you wiping out often. To counter these mishaps, the game features a backtrack tool; players can rewind time to a position before they hurled themselves into a tree. This is handy in some ways, especially during trick events, but it did feel out of place in races as it broke the flow.
Every event also comes with its own set of three challenges. If players complete these side objectives, they will earn stars and bragging rights. These extra objectives increase the difficulty and will keep game veterans busy. Furthermore, each track allows you to choose a difficulty setting before play. This means you can always return to a track if you want to crank it up a notch and take on the pros.
However, if the events weren't fun enough; the game ups the ante with Shackdaddy Challenges.
For those who are looking for a sillier challenge, The Shackdaddy Bandits act as pure comic relief. These events will have players racing on wooden skis, equipping a paper plane wingsuit, or have players delivering pizza. They are outrageously stupid and great to play.
The Shackdaddy Bandits come with their own weekly challenges and if players complete them, they can earn further rewards. These challenges are generic like winning races, scoring points, and taking part in multiplayer sessions.
Players can also earn themselves rewards by unlocking sponsorship contracts. Each Sponsor has their own set of tiered tasks. These reset daily, and, with plenty of sponsors to choose from, you can select the ones which fit your current sporting preference. Completing Sponsor contracts will quickly help you unlock aesthetic items.
As Riders Republic is an online world it comes with its own season, much like Fortnite and Fall Guys. Players can earn seasonal rewards by earning stars and of course you'll be grinding your way through it if you want to come home with the good stuff.
Better With Friends
Essentially, Riders Republic lives and breathes for its multiplayer. Not only is the world populated by players, but you can also join friends and take part in events as a group. Additionally, the game has three different multiplayer modes including Trick Attack, Free for All, and Mass Races.
Trick Attack sees two teams of six go head-to-head in an arena. Whichever team scores the most, wins. Teams can get extra points if they tag a whole area within the arena.
Free for All randomly picks courses and disciplines, so you may be racing on bikes or scoring tricks on a snowboard – you never know until you load in.
Mass Races are announced randomly during your game session by a disembodied voice... If you take the ghost voice up on the offer, you will be involved in a series of events with 64 live players. Its chaotic entertainment at its finest. Battle Royale winners move over, if you’ve secured a spot on a Mass Race podium you’ve achieved something major.
Ultimately, playing online with friends is fun and competitive, with reasonable lobby times and few latency issues. It does however make playing the game alone seem dull once you’ve been on with a party.
Styling it Out
Throughout the game, you will unlock gear. Gear can also be bought from the shop. Still, if you want to own the latest fashions, you’ll have to sink your own money into it. Yup, this game includes microtransactions for clothing items.
Despite all the rewards, customisation still felt limited. For such an open world I wanted my character to stand out from the crowd. But in the beginning getting gear was a grind and clothing items were scarce. This felt at odds with the rest of the game which offered lots of variety.
That aside, the game occasionally dished out strange items like the infamous giraffe costume, and they were always fun to don. Nothing beats shredding down a mountain with an 8-foot neck flailing behind you in the wind.
Rider’s Republic is a world of fun. It gives players plenty to do and the developer’s 1-year roadmap advertises new extreme sports, multiplayer events, and more, which should keep the game fresh over 2022.
Despite being an extreme sports playground, it’s not without some drawbacks. The online world does invite server issues and times when the game isn’t available. Also, on PS4 the loading times were a bit grating. Finally, whilst super fun to play with friends, the solo play can feel lonely and the kinks of the game shine brighter as you frequently crash.
For fans of casual, fun, extreme sports games, Rider’s Republic has it all. But be warned, it's not always smooth riding. You will hit a few bumps along the way.