Steep's incredible Alpine recreation as vast as it is empty
Steep's incredible recreation of the Swiss Alps is as vast as it is empty. Activating the map view allows you to fly around a gargantuan 3D model of its snowy peaks, affording you the luxury of picking drop points at will and transitioning seamlessly into the game. The mechanic is impressive, evoking a wonderful sense of freedom. Even your choice of extreme sport is varied, allowing you to choose one of either snowboarding, skiing, wingsuit flying or paragliding.
An overwhelming amount of events and challenges are scattered aroung the mountains. As you level up, you steadily unlock more and that's... it. That's very literally all there is to Steep. There are races, time trials, and freestyle events where you have to score as many points as possible by pulling off death-defying tricks. All fairly standard stuff for an extreme sports game, and they're all ranked by difficulty. An easy event might take you down a lovely powdery slope, while a hard one will send you down a nightmarish ravine of jagged rocks.
It is very clear that this game is a labour of love for Ubisoft Annecy. The attention to detail between the different mountain terrains, the luxurious way the brilliant in-game lighting carresses the snow... Steeps entire aesthetic feels like it was crafted with loving hands every step of the way.
While the environment in Steep is nothing short of beautiful, the UI is the polar opposite. As you begin racing through events that map, which is split into four different alpine regions, begins filling up fast. You'll unlock the Drop-Zone fast-travel points and flagged events galore, all dotted around in close proximity, and you've got no other way to select them apart from a laggy mouse-style cursor that you control with the right analogue stick. It's clumsy, frustrating and difficult to see which events you have and haven't completed without selecting them directly. It might encourage replayability, but to begin with that will be from accidental selection errors rather than actual willingness to replay a race you've just spent an hour getting the gold medal on.
You can meet real-world players in Steep, too. Like many other Ubisoft games, including Watch Dogs 2, Steep features seamless online multiplayer, which means other players will drop into your game to race the same runs as you or catch you in the sky mid-glide.
Steep is a great game for anyone who wants light-hearted action without commiting to a narrative. But be warned, while Steep is thrilling it can be equal-parts frustrating due to a badly-planned UI.
PS4/ Xbox One