Have you ever crashed your plane into the Las Venturas desert and wandered around looking for a car to get out of there in GTA: San Andreas? That’s the same feeling that STEEP brings me from time to time. A vast world to explore that is picturesque makes for a fun playground. For how long, that depends on the player’s imagination.
With three areas to visit, one of them being available at the store in exchange for in-game currency, the game offers lots of snow to ski, snowboard or even ride a sled on. You can also choose a wingsuit or paraglide your way to interesting new spots to hit. There are a variety of events to compete in from races, which I absolutely hate, to trick competitions and mountain exploring, where you spend 25 minutes climbing a mountain on foot to get experience points, a spawn point, and some change to buy new skis or an outfit with.
Big part of STEEP is exploring the huge world to discover nice drops, villages buried under snow, or terrain parks. Although the game lets you fast travel wherever you want in the world using helicopter tickets, unfortunately, things like terrain parks are not marked on the map. I love terrain parks and this mechanic makes the game quite repetitive. I really wish the game would let me pinpoint, say, my five favorite places on the map so I wouldn’t have to look for them again. The game doesn’t tell you what to do next. You can throw yourself off a mountain and watch your character ragdoll their way down the rocks or you can try to hit a specific trick off a cliff and land it. There are no rules.
Wandering around the world or constantly hitting the same spot by yourself will get boring and lonely really quick. Luckily, there’s an option to play with friends or group up with people you see riding in the world. Just riding around with other people and goofing around is one of the best parts of the game.
STEEP aims for somewhat realistic gameplay, nothing like the classic SSX series, where the character would unstrap their snowboard in the air to do tricks. STEEP is kind of like the snow sports equivalent to Skate where as SSX is the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. That still doesn’t mean you can’t continue skiing after taking a 300-foot fall and having your ski gear scattered across the hill looking like a yard sale.
My favorite thing to do in this game, just like in Skate, is executing realistic tricks, taking cool pictures with the picture mode, or riding down a certain path that I planned out. This also means that I’m having fun only for as long as I can come up with new lines or places that I want to ride. When my imagination and creativity run out, I get bored and stop playing.
I recommend STEEP for anyone interested in extreme sports, especially skiing and snowboarding, that wants a huge playground to do whatever they want in. I still think that you will get more out of the game if you have previous experience with skiing or snowboarding. It’s not the real thing by any means, but I’d rather plummet 300 feet down an icy hill in a video game than in real life.
Photos are screenshots from the game taken by the author.
Developer: Ubisoft Annecy
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Playstation 4
Release date: December 2, 2016
Genre: Extreme sports