There are few things in life I've decided I will never do. Skiing or Snowboarding are a few of those things. It's not that I don't think I could do it - I've sled and tobogganed down some of the taller slopes on nearby Mt. Charleston, forty-five minutes from my house here in Las Vegas. I just know something could catastrophically go wrong and I'm always wary of putting myself at risk of that. This is why I turn to video games, such as Ubisoft's upcoming winter sports title Steep.
Steep was unveiled at E3 2016 and it's wowed since the start. The fully open world game lets you traverse a large, steep mountain based on the Alps, which coincidentally are right outside the window at the development studio's offices in Europe. The demo at PAX West showed off some of the different ways you can compete and travel around the mountain's events, such as Snowboarding, Skiing and using a Wingsuit.
Snowboarding was first. My character, tricked out with a Jack-in-the-Box head began to speed down the slopes. The run I was on prioritized catching air and gathering points through tricks, almost SKATE style. The tessellated snow being deformed in my wake was convincing, something the developer smiled at as he detailed just how difficult that technique is to do. While the effect wasn't perfect, it's results were enough to suspend my disbelief and make me feel as though I were boarding down the slope, doing spins off meticulously crafted ramps.
Once you reach the finish line, however, it's not the end. Just another beginning as the open world of the Alps spreads in front of you. I spent a few minutes boarding through a small town nestled in the woods at the bottom of the slopes. It seems the snow stacked high enough so I could do some more tricks off the roof of a few of the cabins, which was pretty cool.
Skiing felt a lot like snowboarding, but the tricks you can do in air seemed less difficult to pull off. However, landing proved elusive, and more often than not I found myself face first in a pile of powder, wondering whether or not this was the time my character would be knocked out and I'd have to start over.
However, the Wingsuit really provides a rush. Starting from a high vantage point, you free fall, trying to glide as close to the ground without actually landing as possible to rack up the points. This is where I began to fail miserably, causing the PR person helping with the demo to get a large amount of amusement. The wingsuit was quite possibly one of the hardest things to control, which I would imagine emulates real life incredibly well. My first run I made it down in a few tries, but my second wingsuit event marked the end of my demo, because tress were constantly in the way.
Steep is sure to appeal to the SSX/SKATE crowd, or even a winter sports newbie. Look for it on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4 this December.