Last year, Ubisoft turned quite a few heads when it decided to try an open-world extreme sports game called Steep. And while it didn’t quite reach the levels of classic stuff like the SSX games, it did very well for its debut effort, leaving us wondering what twists and turns the team would be making with its next go-round.
And now we know, as Ubisoft has officially announced an Olympics-branded expansion for the game, called Road To The Olympics. In it, you’ll be able to snowboard your way around the Pyonchang district, taking on a number of events with superstars like Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller providing a bit of guidance as you master each one.
Road To the Olympics offers a great deal of variety when it comes to events, including the Giant Slalom, Slalom, Super-G, Downhill, Parallel Giant Slalom, Halfpipe, Snowboard Cross, Slopestyle, Big Air, Sky Halfpipe, Ski Cross and Ski Slopestyle, all selectable in an open-world map. You can take on events in any order, though it helps to get in some practice first before you tackle some of the tougher stuff.
Along with the South Korean mountains to explore, there’s also a new Japan map with some special events, including downhill runs on cherry blossom-laden courses that will make you want to stop and take it all in – but you’re on a timer, so, yeah, don’t do that.
The goal of the game is, obviously, to score the best that you can so that you’ll score some gold medals. Silver and bronze are available as well, but like any good sportsman (or woman), you’ll want to “go for the gold” to the best of your ability.
And it can be a challenge, too. Despite Steep having some really good gameplay built around actual snowboarding and extreme sports physics, you’ll be pushing your skills into overdrive for some of these events.
For instance, the Super-G is really something, as you have to conquer hills and downhill terrain in a short time frame while avoiding going off the track and hitting flags. One missed flag and you’ll have to start your run again. A few of these events are likely to frustrate, but they’ll also help you learn how to be a master. You don’t know if you don’t try, right?
The trick-based events fare much better, as you can score major points on downhill runs and halfpipes by performing great grabs and flips. It can take some getting used to, and sometimes your momentum can get stopped for no apparent reason – something I hope the team is working on – but otherwise, it feels like a pretty good replication of what the Olympians are going through with their training into the 2018 Winter games.
The graphics look great, as always, and represent a whole mountain (or two) worth of stuff to do, and easy ways to get around, either on the slopes themselves or through some other means of aerial transportation. There were some mild issues with perspective on the map, but the team assured me that these’ll be cleaned up in time for the game’s final launch.
I also liked the game’s soundtrack and replay system, adding more to the dynamic of what snowboarding and downhill skiing are all about, and allowing you to customize your experience even further. You know, in case you feel like showing off.
Steep: Road To the Olympics looks better than your usual Olympic-themed fare, mainly because the team is actually putting love and devotion into its product to assure its Olympic quality, without leaning on the branding too much. And it still has its Steep style in check, which fans of the original game will no doubt enjoy.
Road To the Olympics releases on December 5th for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, as an add-on to the original game. There’s still no word on the Nintendo Switch version, but we should know more soon.