It’s been one hell of a bumpy road for Riders Republic, with delays abound leading up to its limited beta that was available to players from 23 to 25 August 2021. As you boot up the game, there’s plenty of reminders telling you that the build you’re playing is a work in progress, and certainly, not all features were available. Without dallying further, let’s see what the national parks have in store for thrill seekers.
From the get-go, I could choose to match-make cross-platform. This you can toggle on and off whenever you want, if you ever need to. Settings-wise, there’s quite a few things you can fiddle around with, like control assists, controller dead-zones and colour blindness options for protanopia, deuteranopia, and tritanopia. Not being colour blind myself, I don’t know how well these palettes have been made as they’re currently fixed presets. It is nice to have the option, of course.
Besides short descriptions for these settings, I assume you can get longer tool tips for them in the full game. None of the little “i” icons seemed to work for me, but even if you’re completely new to games, the information should help you on your way.
Whether there’s more, we’ll all have to find out. In any case, the story’s a simple one. You’re pretty much pulled right into the thick of things with a very brief tour of Riders Ridge before hustled along to the races. You can create your own custom avatar, so with my legally distinct Bread Pitt, it’s time to get started on that career path. As you can see below, the avatar customization has a decent selection of categories. The options are on the limited side at present, but I’ll leave that for the full release.
I’m actually quite surprised at how optimized the game already seems to be. My elderly 6 year old PC can run it on the default High settings without breaking a sweat, and loading times are also kept to a minimum. Considering how the map consists of various US National Parks mashed together in one free roaming open world, kudos to the team for this technical feat. As you make your way through the world, you can see various players zip by, taking the same roads as you.
I didn’t notice especially egregious bugs, just slight oddities the details that I’ll just wait to fully judge on the actual launch. The map can be switched between a 2D and 3D view, the latter giving slightly more definition to the various landmarks you’ll be able to check out on the map itself.
Finally, in the meat of the game. I actually like the tutorial, which immediately tosses you into the sports. I prefer learning as I go, so this is perfectly suited for me. You’re quickly introduced to the backtrack mechanic, where you’ll be able to rewind to a certain point along the path you just went and restarting from where you choose, like a dynamic checkpoint. It’s very useful, though you still will need to be smart in where you rewind lest you go back down the same path. Certain challenges will also require you not to backtrack.
You can swap between first- and third-person cameras, though the third-person one feels much better so that you have a wider field of vision. As it were, the camera seems really sluggish to control manually, so once I hit the track, I pick a god and pray. From the options menu, I didn’t see one for a fixed one behind the player character which I would appreciate. If you’ve got friends with you, the Social Button is there for any quick regroups even if any of you happen to be going at high speed.
The introduction segment will shuttle you around to events, slowly gathering new pieces of gear and helping you familiarize yourself with the controls. The closed beta offered all the sports, careers and multiplayer modes, though the limited time didn’t really allow me to play around too much. While you can see other players milling around, you won’t be joining them in multiplayer right away until you’re done with the intro.
Once you do get to meet up with the world at large, Free For All, Tricks Battle, and Mass Race will be the multiplayer modes you can get into, besides Versus:
- Free For All: 12 players, battling through a series of events. The closed beta focused on Bike Trick events. Participate anytime you want
- Tricks Battle: 6 v 6, performing tricks in a single arena. Performing tricks with an ally simultaneously can get you bonus points. Score more than the opponent to win
- Mass Race: Hourly 50 or more player chaotic events with three rounds each
The multiplayer is one best experienced for yourself to feel the sheer adrenaline – or bewildered confusion, like me – as you go with the flow. While unavailable in the beta, you can give accolades to other players at the end of a game, and presumably check out their gear too.
The assists available help to ease completely inexperienced people such as myself to get into these extreme sports. It’s easy to move around the map and just get started on some event nearby, silently screaming as you fight both the controls and the terrain. The auto landing will still need some leeway, as my various crashes can attest to. It’s easy to get back up, so feel free to ram into things as you learn. It’s not an “auto-win” by any stretch of the imagination.
As it is a beta, there are features missing, with no side missions from NPCs you could do, or secrets – besides landmarks – to sniff out for. Zen Mode is probably disabled for this reason, which is fair: best get the base game working first. At launch, we’ll see what the wilds has in store for us. It looks promising, I give it that.
For further reading, check out our interview with Lead Game Designer, Manfred Neber, here.