A massive open world playground with a blend of many different disciplines, Riders Republic is a game that doesn't take itself too seriously, puts fun first and lets you decide how and what you want to progress.
Riders Republic starts with a multisport race at the very beginning that serves as a teaser as to what you can expect from the game. It's high octane, fast and frantic, and once you've configured your controls you are shown to the hub area, Riders Ridge.
You'll meet two very enthusiastic characters that'll be your guides for the rest of the game (they are incredibly cringy btw, and remind me of the “how do you do fellow kids” meme). These two show you around the ridge and explain how to participate in all of the activities, buy new gear and learn new tricks. Then the world is your oyster and you're free to do as you please.
The one big persistent goal while you're out doing events in the world is always to get more stars. This is your main form of progression and that doesn't really change which I was fine with. More events unlock at certain star thresholds and it goes all the way up to 7000 being the last milestone in the progression. It's very simple to understand and gives you something to work towards.
I love how you can choose what sport and career path you want to go down and focus on. I personally preferred the bike and rocket suit events because of the sprint and boost meter that gives you a burst of speed.I just felt like I had more control over what I was doing as opposed to some of the snow events on skis and snowboards.
One of my biggest concerns when I first started playing was replayability. How many times can I barrel down a hill and not get bored? I'm pleased to say that wasn't the case at all because of the event challenges. Challenges reward stars for completion, the harder the challenge the more stars it'll give, with three on offer per event. And I don't know what it is but collecting stars was a big driving force for me that had me replaying the same events up to 10 times just to land a certain trick challenge, beat a certain time or place 1st, and when I finally did, it was instant gratification that made me want to continue on and collect even more. So in a sea of events to do, even just one goes a long way.
It helps that the tracks and massive open world you're racing through are fantastic. The views and environments are very detailed, rarely the same and at times made me feel like I was solving a puzzle trying to get through them, more than completing a race. The different biomes work well to keep things fresh: forest, snow, desert and a mixture of them all. It just feels like a playground.It's a rush wingsuit-gliding through a narrow canyon at 100mph and seeing the AI just casually canoeing below you, or zooming down a steep hill, hitting a ramp and deploying a rocket propelled wingsuit to fly over a dense forest, weaving in between the trees and then converting back into a snowboard.
These are moments that make the game fun and give it balance. It's real enough to not feel silly,but is fantasy enough to let you fly 100s of feet into the air, do a 1080 spin, spin the handle bars, tail whip, triple backflip, go make a cup of tea, come back and land as if gravity doesn't exist. A balance of fun and control is a plus in my books.
There are other factors that influence those controls though. When you're out completing events and getting all those sweet, sweet stars you'll also be unlocking new gear. I'm in two minds about how Ubisoft Handled the acquiring of new bikes, snowboards, rocket suits and the other gear. On one hand, I love how simple it is, all the gear has a gear score attached to it and usually the higher the score the better the gear is, right? So I don't think I ever hesitated to press the upgrade button, not even looking at the stats or how it'll affect my control over the bike or snowboard. 95% of the time it was “Me want bike with big number!” and that's proved successful up until now. It's simple and I don't have to pay much attention to it and could just focus on having fun in the event.
Now on the other hand, I'm a huge fan of looter-style games, Think Destiny 2, Borderlands, The Division, and a part of me wishes there was more gear customization in Riders Republic. Nearly all of Ubisoft's newer games have gone that direction with gear that matters, It's in Far Cry 6 and Assassins Creed Valhalla, so that part of me thinks they should have lent into the gear way harder in Riders Republic.
Why don't the gear have perks attached to them? They don't have to be wild, even though wild perks would suit the game's theme. Just Imagine a gear set that gave you one perfect landing once a race or forgave you for missing a checkpoint, or like an ultimate that let you score double points for 5 seconds.
The possibilities are endless. It wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea but I'd have liked to see what that version of Riders Republic would have looked like, or at least let me change the colour of my gear, ya know.
Also, as it stands the outfit options kinda suck. All the good stuff is behind a paywall so I've got all this in-game currency that I'm not spending.
Touching back on the events, the variety and styles of events here is impressive. For a more linear experience that tests your speed and reaction time, the standard first to finish races are for you. If you want to flex and get technical, the trick and stunt events are my personal favorite. If you want to have a laugh the Shak Daddy Bandit events will 100% put a smile on your face with how silly some of the scenarios it can put you in. Or a combination of all of them with the multi-sport races. There's something for everyone to enjoy.
One of the biggest selling points on paper are the game's Mass Races. These 64-player multi-part multi-sport events are great the first few times you do them, but not so great after. The awe of it ran out pretty fast because it's simply too chaotic. 64 players all colliding with each other is simply not fun at all and there's no level based matchmaking so you could face someone with way better and faster gear.
Often I found myself hoping to start at the front of the pack with my fingers crossed that the faster riders would get barged off the track or mess up by missing a checkpoint and have to waste time having to backtrack. The concept of mass races is amazing. It reminds me a lot of the game Fall Guys, but its issues are too prominent for me at the moment. I'd rather go off by myself and do challenges or explore the map for collectibles.
Also as it stands at the time of this review, it seems the player base is already struggling to populate the other matchmaking events such as the Trick Battles and Free For All events, which is a shame because they are fun to do but waiting in a 15-minute queue when I only planned to play for an hour or so is not cool.
Which is sort of a double edged sword because one of Riders Republic's biggest strengths is how easy it is to pick up and play for 30 minutes or an hour - have fun, and feel like you accomplished something.
Should you buy or play Riders republic? Absolutely. It's incredibly fun with loads of activities and events to keep you busy, and can be really challenging when you up the difficulty. If you'd rather chill and just explore the world there's even a Zen mode.
It's certain to make you smile and burst out with laughter with how silly it can get at times, make you feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction when completing objectives, and also make you want to throw your controller out the window when you just can't seem to win a race no matter how hard you try. Just don't expect too much from the Mass races.
Disclaimer: Tested on PC and PS5. Also available on PS4, Xbox One, Xbox One X, and Xbox Series X|S. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher.