When Ubisoft announced that they had one more game to show off at the end of their 2016 E3 conference everyone in the audience, myself included, shifted to the edge of their seats. Then Steep happened.
As a long time fan of extreme sports titles, specifically snowboarding ones, I was more enthused than most, but Steep still didn’t seem like an idea worth ending on. For those who missed it, Steep is a realistic snowboarding, skiing, wingsuit flying and parasailing title with a large focus on online interaction. Players can follow the paths of their friends down real world mountains to see if they can replicate their sick cuts and big jumps.
When I found myself with nothing to do on day three of E3 I sauntered over to the Ubisoft booth and found the shortest line (by far) which just so happened to belong to Steep. After a few minutes of waiting I was escorted to an Xbox One setup where a very friendly Ubisoft employee with a thick French accent assisted me in setting up Steep’s various modes of transportation.
The first, and as I would later learn best, demo was of the less-than-flattering wingsuit. I found myself at the peak of a mountain with a group of other players, both real and computer controlled. With the push of a button I had donned a blue squirrel suit and I inched towards the edge of my jump platform. With a single push of the left analog stick I leaped off the ledge and was soon gliding as close to the marked path as possible. My Ubisoft guide reminded me that the closer I got to the ground the more points I would score, but I would also have a greater risk of crashing. And crash I did. Three times to be exact. Regardless of these mishaps, which were more humorous than devastating, it was a decently exhilarating few minutes of flying.
After I finally touched down in the landing zone I was shown how to pull back to the Alps and pick trails I wanted to traverse. I jumped immediately to a low level snowboarding option and switch my character over to the appropriate gear. The first thing I noticed about snowboarding (and skiing) in Steep is that you can’t go too fast. As you are dealing with a realistic environment your character will lose control if their speed exceeds a certain limit, forcing players to break, carve in a different direction to slow momentum, or take a tumble down the mountain. Was it true to real snowboarding? Absolutely. Did it kind of kill the whole “extreme” sports vibe? Absolutely.
While I knew I was on a beginner trail with smaller jumps and sparse obstacles I still did my best to pump out the dopest flips and grabs I could muster. They weren’t very dope. I mean, if I pulled them off in real life I’d likely win the Winter Olympics, but they weren’t anything special in the realm of video games.
As I played more and more stages all I could think was This game needs to be more like SSX Tricky. Or SSX3 or SSX On Tour or 2012's SSX reboot. Steep isn’t even as fun as Snowboard Kids 2 for the Nintendo 64. Though in its defense, Snowboard Kids 2 is a fantastic cult classic and you should all go find a copy to try.
Steep is basically a more bland version of SSX 2012. If you watch the video below you’ll understand what I mean.
See? You’ve got your wingsuit flying, snowboarding, wicked tricks and just enough realism to make carving down any trail enjoyable. SSX even features real world mountains, just like Steep. It’s almost like Ubisoft looked over EA’s extreme snowboarding series and said, “How can we make this less exciting?”
Obviously there are plenty of players out there that find pleasure in games that approach their content with a grounded atmosphere. I’m sure I would feel the same way if I played NBA 2K16 and noticed the ball wasn’t on fire and none of the players could dunk from half court. Steep is in no way a bad game. It’s simply one that may take itself a bit too seriously in the grand scheme of things. I’m sure it will find an audience, but players who want a bit more pizzazz in their winter sports will have to reach back to some old classics and keep on waiting.
You’re reading TAY, Kotaku’s community-run blog. TAY is written by and for Kotaku readers like you. We write about games, art, culture and everything in between. Want to write with us? Check out our tutorial here and join in. Follow us on Twitter@KoTAYku and Like Us on Facebook.
For more game impression and nerd culture silliness you can follow GiantBoyDetective on Twitter at @SuperBentendo.