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Review

Going For Gold With Steep's Road To The Olympics

Winter wonderland?

Ubisoft’s new template seems to be working. Instead of releasing games, then moving studios straight onto the next big project, games like Rainbow Six Siege, For Honor, and Ghost Recon: Wildlands continue to thrive long after their initial launch. We’ve seen this trend elsewhere in the industry – just look at The Witcher III and Final Fantasy XV – but for Ubisoft it’s become a key part of their forward strategy.

For Steep, this has meant various tweaks and fixes as well as new ways to play and explore its vast massifs. That led to the slightly bonkers Winterfest with its crazy costumes and challenges, but you won’t find any yetis, sumo suits, or sled-racing in Steep’s Road to the Olympics expansion that launched at the end of last year. If you haven’t guessed already, takes a much more serious, formal approach and is an official licensed product of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics that have just started this week.

The main attraction here is “Become A Legend”, which is the closest Steep has to a story-driven playthrough. Whether you’re a complete newbie or king of the mountain, there are a string of missions that help flesh out the basics, such as air control and grinding, that will transition into tests events, allowing you to sample courses before having a proper go at them.

They’re way less freeform than Steep’s existing routes. Instead of improvising your way through forests, glaciers, and jagged outcrops, you’ll be surrounded by jumps, rails, and other man made obstacles, deliberately placed and conveniently highlighted.

Road to the Olympics feels more linear in that respect, swinging closer towards SSX and, for those who remember, Shaun Palmer’s Pro Snowboarding. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, of course, and for some it will make Steep infinitely more appealing by keeping the action clearly focused.

Although it’s only the build up to PyeongChang 2018 in the game, you’ll no doubt find yourself going for gold when participating in any of its 12 event types. Based on official Winter Games disciplines, you’ll be taking part in the Slalom, Slopestyle, and Halfpipe events to name just a few. Steep also features Big Air – a new category in which athletes launch into a huge jump, stringing together a combination of cool tricks.

You’re free to go off and wander, of course; the Asia region is packed with challenges to beat and vistas to explore across both South Korea and Japan. You can pick up your progress with Road To The Olympics again at any time and Ubisoft has clearly put a ton of work into making it as authentic and immersive as possible, cutting together VTs that feature some of the biggest names in winter sports to tell their stories and experiences.

Unfortunately for us, when those VTs came on, the audio cut out completely. In the handful of instances where this has been reported online, some have had success fiddling with audio settings and the music volume in particular, but we had music turned on and re-downloading the full Steep package still resulted in nothing but silence.

Note: This feature stems from playtime in mid-December, so hopefully this issue has been resolved in a subsequent patch.

However, for a sports title that strives to be adventurous, Steep’s year-old snowboarding gameplay is starting to feel somewhat limited. Pulling off a sick combo still feels satisfying (as does racing down the slopes at breakneck speeds) but there’s a sense of repetition there. That loop of launching then simultaneously fumbling at the sticks and triggers, hoping your character survives the landing. That said, Steep is still the best extreme sports game currently doing the rounds and one that has continued to expand and improve over the course of the year.

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