I have no idea why I’m still playing this game… honestly, none.
Its zero dark thirty. My friends, long having abandoned me, are probably sound asleep. Our Saturday gaming Sesh, or SatSesh, if you will, ended hours ago. And yet here I am. 43 attempts into this one track. Well, it’s been 43 attempts since I started counting. I can’t figure how many there might have been before that. The screen turns over black between attempts and I catch a glimpse of my reflection. I no longer see a man playing a video game. No, he faded from existence some time ago. Now, there exists only a hollow entity. A soulless wisp. A consciousness, whose only “raison d’etre” is Trials Rising. Trials Rising, and this damned track. All it wants is the gold. It needs the gold. It needs its’ preciousss…
Existential crises aside, I had a ball with Trials Rising. I’ve not been involved with the series since Trials HD; the pressure, and profuse sweating, were too much for me back then. I’m glad for the break though, because it means I approached Rising as a blank slate. It necessitated my relearning all the basic Trials skills: balance, throttle control, leaning, and, most importantly, infinite patience. You will become a Jedi at some point during your time with Trials Rising. Or, you will fall to the dark side, and, presumably, go back to casual gaming.
But I don’t think that will happen for many. The learning curve is actually fairly gradual. It is possible to “Bronze” your way through to mid game, without any major grind. By the time you hit medium level tracks however, you’ll need to be bagging silver. After that, it’s gold, or bust. The games progression follows a linear path: level up to unlock new tracks, challenges, and parts of the world. Players will level up by gaining XP, earned, of course, through racing. The better your finish, the more XP you’ll earn. Once you hit the mid thirties, however, things can get a bit grindy. Old tracks will be replayed to earn gold, but you’ll also get new competitors to race against, and sponsor challenges.
The key thing to remember about Trials Rising, is that, it is, essentially, a puzzle game, and not a racing game. Albeit puzzles played at high speed, which require mongoose like reflexes. Faster is not always better though. Over time the player will learn that a faster run will often result from the minimal application of power, and staying glued to that track. More air time, means less speed. There also alternate routes in each level, which gives players the chance to find faster routes through to the finish.
The tracks themselves are the star of the show. The bike merely becomes an implement, a tool, with which to beat the track. Each course can be like a dangerous enemy. You must learn its moves, its patterns, its inconsistencies, and, when you’re ready, execute it perfectly. The environments are beautifully crafted affairs, and are exaggerations of, and as varied as, their real world locations. There’s a Hollywood film set, a Russian missile base, a tropical paradise in Indonesia. The collection impresses.
You’ll spend most of your time with 2, or 3 bikes. The third bike only being unlocked at level 42, or about 8 hours gameplay. I was, initially, disappointed at only having a few bikes. But then I realised what Ubisoft Redlynx were going for. They wanted players to have the minimum necessary tools to master their tracks. Rather than having a dozen bikes, where you might regularly use 2 or 3, just give the player 2 or 3 in total. Thereby ensuring players will learn the nuances of each vehicle, and know which bike would best suit each track.
Graphically, Trials Rising hasn’t improved much since the last entry in the series. I don’t know if graphical improvement was necessary The game looks fine on Xbox One X. There is always some pop up on restarting a track. I imagine this is due the assets remaining preloaded in the consoles memory, removing the need for loading screens between attempts. I didn’t encounter a single glitch, or bug, during my time playing Trials Rising, though online match making felt a bit hit or miss. At off peak times I often found it difficult to find a match at all. When it did work however, the online adds an extra feather to Trials Rising cap.
Global multiplayer sees you matched up against up to 8 opponents, where you’ll race their ghosts over a track, voted for before the race starts. There is also a Party Mode, which you can play with up to 3 of your friends. This local multiplayer sees you square off against each other in a series of races and challenges. Ubisoft have also planned a private online multiplayer in the near future; allowing you to play exclusively against your friends. Sadists among you can even try the Tandem Bike. A 2 player mess of a vehicle, which allows 2 people to control one bike. This is some kind of sick joke by the devs, I’m sure of it.
The track editor will give you a blank landscape, and all the tools necessary to devise your own devious courses. It is a complicated tool however, and you’ll find it difficult to learn, without taking a trip to YouTube to check out some tutorials. An in-game tutorial should have been included. It would also be remiss of me not to mention the loot system. Level up and you get a loot crate. There’ll be 3 items inside, and they’ll all be cosmetic. Either a bike part, clothing, or a sticker. Trials Rising does feature micro-transactions, but there is no pay-to-win. From what I could see, every in-game item is purely cosmetic. Some will require real money to unlock, but most can be gained through in-game currency, earned from racing. The stickers seemed pointless.
Trials Rising is an enjoyable, mind bending, patience testing, jumpy jump fest. The grind will hit you at some point, and you may, on occasion, feel like banging your head off the wall. But you’ll also jump back in, play with your mates, and give that track one more go. Just one more. Just one, then I’m finished. One more…. One.
Trials Rising is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch for €39.99. GamEir.