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Steep Beta Impressions

3 min read

Steep Beta Preview 4

Steep was one of those E3 surprises where you lifted your eyebrows, let out a “huh” and generally didn’t understand why it was taking up so much special stage time. Ubisoft’s end of presentation surprises are usually show-stealing, and Steep just seemed too leftfield for the publisher. Emphasising a variety of snow sport events and a keen focus on sociability though, Steep has the hallmarks of a game that, if done right, would spawn its fan base of line hunting, snow shredding addicts. The beta this weekend did almost nothing to sell me on that though.

Back at E3, what I played of Steep was rough. It controlled quite stiffly, took far too long to reset after a bad crash and made pulling off stunts (arguably the reason you want to take to the virtual slopes) a real chore. That’s only slightly improved in the time since then. Steep still doesn’t feel all too natural to control, with the two analogue sticks controlling your speed and pitch across your four virtues of getting around. When you’re snowboarding for example, the right stick acts as your brake. In squirrel suit diving it fine tunes your pitch. In paragliding it just throws your entire position into disarray and I quickly learnt never to touch it again.

Steep Beta Preview 3

This works fine after a little getting used to, but unlike some of the more dexterous examples of this genre (SSX being my favourite), I never really felt comfortable. That extended to pulling off some tricks, which were made too oddly complex for their own good. Jumps are mapped to the Right Trigger on Xbox One, with flips and holds only registering after you’ve taken to the air. The timing can get finicky, but I like that releasing either of them immediately had my player attempting to realign before hitting the ground. time it too late, and the resulting G-Force slowed him down or wiped him out completely.

But for all the risk attributed to pulling these feats off, they never really felt spectacular in practice. I could do quick barrel rolls and flips backwards and forwards, but nothing quite got me to the point of feeling that exhilarating rush of big air. It’s partly down to the events on offer in the beta, which swung between short races, some even shorter point scoring events and simple trail survivals. Some courses were outright frustrating (a race with checkpoint through frequent, tiny tunnels), while others did a good job of showcasing the scale Steep is aiming for.

Steep Beta Preview

Scale is where even this limited beta elevated Steep into a new tier of sports titles. The slopes you have access to are massive, with many base camps littering the white playground with events for you to hop between. But even if you aren’t in the mood for pre-determined events, you can just free-ride as much as you like. Exploration is encouraged in Steep, if only to find even more base camps, hidden collectibles and more.

These routes that you carve out for yourself also form the backbone of Steep’s social aspect, although I really didn’t get to dig deep into it during this short time. Essentially any routes you take are recorded in-game, and you’re able to look at the entire route through the game’s map. Click on it at any point, and you’re free to set up challenges, events and invite friends to your new line. Ideally the game will eventually be filled with these user-created events, not too dissimilar to what Forza Horizon does with its brand of open-world racing.

That’s probably the most apt comparison that came to mind during the beta this weekend, and it instilled a sense of hope for all the other features that Steep might be hiding behind the curtain. But for a game that’s all about movement and speed, Steep still feels surprisingly unwelcoming to control – and it’s something I don’t see being completely rectified should the game stick to its December release. But if unbridled freedom to explore snowy mountain tops sounds more important, Steep is delivering that in spades.

Last Updated: November 14, 2016


    • HvR

      November 14, 2016 at 14:11

      Watch out for the Yeti/bear


  1. Admiral Chief - N7

    November 14, 2016 at 12:40

    • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

      November 14, 2016 at 12:41



  2. Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

    November 14, 2016 at 12:42

    • Raptor Rants

      November 14, 2016 at 13:07

      I hated that dude. Man, the rage.


      • Dresden

        November 14, 2016 at 21:37

        I was still quite young when I played this. Oh man, the childish frustration for that damn yeti thing was over 9000!


  3. Lord Chaos

    November 14, 2016 at 12:44

    I want this, for reasons


  4. Andre Fourie

    November 14, 2016 at 12:46

  5. Original Heretic

    November 14, 2016 at 12:55

    Seems like a good VR candidate.


  6. Raptor Rants

    November 14, 2016 at 12:57

    Nothing beats the original best


  7. Galbedir

    November 14, 2016 at 13:37

    So what I gather from the review…is that there is a fairly…Steep…learning curve…


    • Cody

      November 15, 2016 at 18:09

      There really isn’t a learning curve. If you’re having problems landing tricks you’re either trying to do too much in the air, or you’re just choosing bad jumps. (you – being the collective) As for what this guys says about controls not feeling comfortable he is just wrong. Played this game for hours in the Alpha and the Beta. The controls are fine and EASY to learn, just not as easy to master. As for the tricks being complicated this is just false as well. There are only 3 buttons you need for tricks. Trigger to jump, R/L trigger for R/L grabs or both triggers for both hands, and the left stick for turns/flips. Figuring out the combos is the tricky part. This guy says he never got the exhilarating feeling from big airs. He wasn’t finding the right locations. I found huge rock faces leading to massive air attacks for 5,000+ points on huge tricks as the eagle bellows out from afar as you fly off the side of the mountain hoping to land. What really matters is how much you explore looking for new and improved routes. And the mountains off the beta map that we will get later just have my mouth watering.


  8. Habitashi

    November 14, 2016 at 21:25

    I spent more than 20 hours playing the open beta, (I also played the Alpha beta and the game has improved A LOT)
    I have never been a fan of (skiing/snowy/winter) type games, BUT this game is SO beautiful, I have trust issues with Ubi but this game is absolutely stunning, I cant believe how the author didnt mention how big and beautiful is the game, the stunning environment, smooth gameplay! it is super fun, I cant believe myself that I am going to pre order the game!
    maybe the author should have spent a little more time playing the game.
    the beta is over now and I CANT wait to play the full game.


  9. dehelix

    November 18, 2016 at 17:28

    How can a game that looks so good be so stupifyingly boring? Bring back SSX. There is no real sense of speed or exhilaration.

    The wingsuit is fast but is quite hard to control. It just seems to be a matter of blind luck whether you skim above the snow or crash into it. The paragliding is a doddle. Why are there no side winds or updrafts to contend with!

    Even the snowboarding, which is the main draw for me, feels quite sluggish. It’s feels just meh rather than Wow! Technically Steep is remarkable. It’s a real shame that the gameplay is missing.

    It might improve when the multiplayer comes into play and we all start competing against one another but I won’t be wasting £45 to see if it does.

    Still I do get 25gig of space back in my hard drive when I delete it. Hurrah!


  10. dehelix

    November 21, 2016 at 01:24

    Ok ok. I will fall in my sword. I was wrong, totally. Steep is rather good once you get passed the tutorial missions that I felt were so limiting. Once you get beyond them the mountain, indeed the game opens up and you can go anywhere. The wingsuit remains the hardest to control but I am getting there. I must have died over a dozen times on one course attempting to fly through a hole in a rock but I did it eventually and got flattened immediately by a rock wall. Still I got the award.

    I have literally limped across the finish lines of a number of challenges but I still got the credits. I do seem to have a magnetic attraction to trees as I keep hitting them. I am not keen on the crunching and cracking sounds which are presumably my bones snapping. Your health arc indicator drops rapidly when you travel over rock.

    I would like an option that turns off reality as it were so unless I fall off a cliff I can keep going. Too often I die in a snapping, cracking tumble only to resurrect a few seconds later to continue my run. I did team with with another player at one point. He was dressed as a pink hippo and giggled a lot. That wore very thin after he beat my run times again and again.

    I also too often get stuck on the scenery. Ok so I did crash into the scenery a few seconds before but it must be easier to extricate myself. I often have to restart the run. I guess I could switch to walk mode? Yeah, that would work.

    My favourite is skiing. It actually feels natural although I am often skiing backward down the runs. It’s s skill I have. Oddly the controls work the same. I have completed many a course backwards. It’s my thing. I may even buy the game when it comes out in December. See… a total 180!


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