Trials is back, and it’s bigger and better than ever before. If Fusion taught me anything, it’s that I suck at the physics-based motorcycle play that Trials is known for. That realization has stuck with me for a long while, so much so that it was the first thing that sprung to mind as I nervously observed my Xbox installing Trials Rising. It was as though each bump to the installation’s percentage was taunting me, knowing that despite my skills (or lack thereof) I was soon once again going to be sat up until 2 am trying ‘one last time’ to beat a tough track.
In truth, I was pleasantly surprised by Rising’s warm welcome. The game does a fantastic job of warming up newcomers and returning fans alike, and it does so without relaying a false sense of security. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a freakishly tough challenge that awaits those that have the predisposition to endure its hardships, but at the same time, it’s wide open for those of a lesser skill level too. It’s cruel, but fair. Perhaps more fair than it’s ever been. It’s a balance that I thought Fusion truly lacked, and as a result, makes for a very enticing affair.
The game’s hub is reliably clean, and spreads six tabs in total; Home, Race, Garage, Store, Player Data, and Track Editor. Starting with the latter three, these are fairly self explanatory. Rising’s track editor is a complex, robust, and in-depth tool. It’s also packed with content that spans Rising, right through to Evolution. Mercifully, RedLynx has included helpful links that give you some guided tours and insights to the suite, but even then, for me at least, I felt a little out of my depth. Regardless, I spent some time toying around with its features.
Through the editor, you’re able to play with a vast range of settings and options. You’ll set your start point on a map of your choosing, and then using all of its many assets, you’ll go on to create the tracks of your dreams. The ability to save and share your tracks is present too, meaning that before long, we should see heaps of creative additions from the game’s talented community. Nevertheless, there’s bound to be a few lazy designs present, but thankfully, a voting tool allows us to pool together to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The bottom line in all of this is that Rising’s track editor is very expansive and very deep, and in the right hands, we can only expect greatness and bolstered longevity. Over in the store tab, you’ll find access to a range of goodies that you can purchase through the use of Trials Coins and Acorns. The former is a currency that you’ll earn through in-game events, whereas the latter is tied to microtransactions. There appears to be a fairly decent balance to the costs of everything, but, well, we all know how sensitive the matter of MTs can be.
Either way, the store is broken up into several categories. Here, you can purchase a range of unique extras if you’re interested in standing out; riders, bundles, bikes, and so forth. Community creations are present here too, being that the game allows players to customize and share outfit and bike skins. You can also access the aforementioned acorns here, as well as expansions – both of which take you to the Xbox Storefront. In the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty straightforward stuff. That leads us to the player data section of the hub.
This, as expected, is where all of your accolades are kept track of. You’re free to browse the leaderboards to find your ranking, read up on notifications, or check out your player profile. The player profile is where you’ll want to head if you’re seeking out your stats and progress. Notifications, on the other hand, lets you know what suggested tracks and challenges are available. Moving on to the garage, a Trials game wouldn’t be complete without some player diversity now, would it folks? In the garage, you can edit your bike, and your rider.
There’s a number of different parts for each of the game’s unique bikes, and you’re free to edit and customize each component however you see fit – so long as you have the goods. Throughout the game, you’ll earn gear crates that reward you with new cosmetic additions for your rider and bike, to which you can then modify them over in the garage. There’s a plethora of extras to unlock, each coming with a specific rarity; common, rare, legendary, and sponsor. Again, you’re free to use your Trials Coins to purchase community creations.
Bike components span bodykit, headlight, exhaust, frame, tires, and rims. The rider, however, can be edited across accessories, helmet, jacket, shirt, gloves, bottoms, and footwear. There’s also some options that allows you to tweak your gender, your voice, and your skin color, but in honesty, there’s not a great deal of choice to pull from on this front. Outside of that, players can purchase poses for use in the game’s lobbies and loading screens. Safe to say that there’s enough variety overall to give you enough distinction.
There’s already some wacky and outlandish stuff on the store, which will no doubt fill out dramatically once the game launches. Whatever the case, the game breaks things down really well, and always keeps things simple and clear. Finally, we’re getting to the meat of the matter – the race, and the home tab. This is largely where all the action takes place. The home tab highlights a few of the game’s campaign races, as well as some useful scrolling notifications. You’ll find the game’s options here, with a few settings that you can adjust.
Notifications typically informs you that another player has just beaten your score, with track information in place to enable you to take back the proverbial bragging crown. The race hub, however, is where you’ll find the game’s weight. This is where you’ll take to the campaign, the game’s global multiplayer, its local multiplayer, its private multiplayer, and its community generated tracks. Track central is very easy to use. You’ll simply browse the game’s community generated maps with use of robust filters, and play whatever you like.
The game’s private multiplayer is not yet active, and will presumably be added soon. Party mode, otherwise known as local multiplayer, is where you and your nearest and dearest can take to the fields of play for some fierce competition. There’s support for up to four local players, and all the options that you would come to expect are present. You can select a track, or, create a playlist, and then tweak a large number of rules; bikes allowed, life count, speed, gravity, and more. No doubt friendships will be put to the test in this section.
The game’s global multiplayer is where you’ll want to be if you’re looking to take the competition online, and unlike local play, global multiplayer supports up to eight players per-whack. This leads us to the main event, the game’s campaign. The campaign sprawls a large world map, with real world locations being used for track inspiration. Events will litter the map, and by taking parts in these events, you’ll earn XP and Trials Coins. Naturally, XP goes towards your level rank, with content, such as the game’s bikes, gated behind higher levels.
That said, there’s a couple of bikes that you can buy outright using Trials Coins, but these cost quite a bit, meaning you’ll need to accumulate a small fortune before you gain access to them. Before long, you’ll have access to the University of Trials. This is where the game gives you some useful hints in regards to its functionality. Many of the lessons here are gated behind a locked level rank, but in truth, it’s balanced really well, ensuring that by the time you need said lesson, you’ll likely have already met the required level to unlock it.
Skill Games make an appearance too, and again, many of them are level rank specific. These brief assignments task you with taking on some outlandish jobs. The first of which is Bomb Bouncer, and sees you trying to throw your rider off their bike and onto a chain of bombs in an attempt to rag-doll them as far down the track as possible. Basket Ball is next, and here, you’ll need to throw yourselves off your bikes to catch a basketball, and then guide your rider to a hoop to score a point. There’s many more besides, and they’re all just as fun.
The crux of play sees you taking on a host of the game’s varied and distinct levels. Levels are tethered and grouped to specific leagues, and once you’ve met preset requirements, you’ll be able to take on that league’s challenger before moving onto the next. Each level has a ranking system that dishes out bronze, silver, and gold rank, dependent, of course, on how well you do. One new feature rests with the game’s sponsors. Throughout natural play, new sponsors will show some interest in your skills, and demand that you fulfill tasks for them.
Each sponsor tends to have a unique demand, but the rewards for fulfilling these demands are well worth the time and effort invested. It’s a neat system, and it’s a system that allows you to toy with the game’s distinct bikes and play-styles. Occasionally, new challengers will pop up infrequently and challenge you to a race in return for a Challenge Gear Crate. These crates typically house better rewards than their Gear Crate counterparts, but earning them takes considerable skill. I’m level fifty in Trials Rising, and I’ve yet to earn more than one.
These challengers only allow you to fail three times before sodding off, and the only way to win is to beat each challenger in rapid succession. Nevertheless, that’s the bulk of the game’s campaign. You’ll jump in, be met with a dizzying amount of tasks, and go about your business. Moving back to the game’s difficulty curve, I can only sing praises for Trials Rising. Thanks to its ranking system, there’s no alienating newcomers. That being said, the game still manages to cater for returning pros alike, putting forward a very fair field of play.
It’s quite possible to play the game with little to no skill, and still enjoy much of what it has to offer. Tracks can be replayed for repeat rewards, though, these rewards are diluted to ensure that they cant be spammed. In contrast, pro players will want to sink in and earn gold rank for everything in sight, and believe me, the difference between earning bronze and gold is night and day, especially later on. There’s difficulty tiers too, with each level relaying to you how difficulty it is, ranging the likes of easy, hard, extreme, and so forth.
Outside of that, extreme contracts will pop up from time to time. I’ll admit, I’ve yet to beat my first extreme contract. Trying to perform seven back-flips and eight front-flips on a short, convoluted track, is far beyond my skill. Overall, there’s plenty of challenging, yet constantly fun content to keep you going for hours on end. Those of you familiar with Trials will know exactly what to expect. With this being a physics-based game, momentum and precision is key to your success. That, and a bucket-load of patience. No, I don’t say that lightly at all.
Tracks may indeed be short, but in true Trials style, you’ll likely spend several hours per-track as you aim to fine-tune you scores and performances. There’s not much to keep in mind as far as the game’s handling goes. You’ll accelerate with RT and brake with LT. To maintain momentum and balance, you’ll lean with either the left stick or the D-Pad. Finally, you can bailout with use of the Y button. Should you want to restart at a checkpoint, you simply hit the B button, or swiftly restart a track through tapping the menu button.
Using a combination of these functionalities, you’ll work through the game’s tracks as you struggle to maintain pace and momentum. The track design is, much like the difficulty, not all that taxing to begin with. In fact, starting out, you’ll utilize little more than balance and speed alone. Later on, on the other hand, you’ll need to gel with the game’s complexities if you’re to enjoy widespread gold ranks. This means bunny hopping over bombs, braking on unforgivably steep slopes, and so forth. It’s cruel, but fair in the grand scheme of things.
Perhaps my favorite thing about Trials Rising is its camerawork. You’ll always begin each track at the far left of the screen, and must simply make your way to its end point on the far right. Though, through some intelligent and jaw-dropping camera behavior, each and every track remains fast-paced, exciting, and wholly energetic. Even straightforward tracks seem stomach-wrenching once the camera works its magic, constantly panning out, zooming in, and swiftly rotating at all the right times. It’s truly a sight to behold from beginning to end.
It helps, of course, that the track design remains diverse throughout the entirety of play. The game sends you to several locations, all of which are varied and distinct at all times. Each track has its own set of unique obstacles and hazards to overcome, which when paired with the freakishly obscure layouts that each relays, makes for a game that constantly has you on edge. Memorization plays a role here, but it’s your reaction time and execution that matters the most. Simply put, it’s the epic Trials formula that we all know and love.
Other players’ ghosts will frequently join you for the ride too, and they seem to be matched of similar skill, or skill that’s just above your own. It’s a nice way to push you ‘just’ out of your comfort zone and test your limits. Though, it can be a tad distracting. Either way, whether you’re traversing the devastating layouts of Mount Everest or rushing the panic-riddled stretches of the Eiffel Tower, the action never runs dry. The game offers a handful of different bikes to take to, each of which houses their own traits and characteristics.
Some of these bikes are better suited for specific tracks than others, and the game will always inform you as to which bike it recommends. That said, I found all of them to be quite competent in their own way. The Squid is your safe and balanced bet. The Rhino, on the other hand, is more weighty and allows for steadier in-air handling. Then there’s the Mantis, the most agile of the motored vehicles. This bike is perfect for those that seek fluidity above all else. There’s no shortage of choice, allowing you to find a bike that best suits your style.
The Tandem is the bike that stands out the most. This allows two local players to sit on the same bike, in which they must cooperate to utilize its handling – hence the fitting title. Given that the controls are shared, communication is key. Everything from acceleration, right up to braking and leaning, must be done in tandem. It may sound like a novelty, but you would be surprised at how responsive this bike can be in the right pair of hands. Or indeed, grueling in the wrong pair of hands. It does take some getting used to, that’s for sure.
In regards to the game’s audio and visual design, Trials Rising gets a thumbs up from me. The game looks absolutely sensational, with sharp, vivid details spanning the whole trek. It’s a gorgeously designed affair, that much goes without saying. I can extend the same level of appreciation to its stellar audio presentation, complete with a soundtrack that helps to set the mood. Unfortunately, the game suffers from infrequent screen tearing, which doesn’t bode too well for a game that demands constant vigilance. This, needs fixing, and fast.
The “one more go” Trials formula that we all know and love is back, and it’s back at its absolute finest. Rising is the deepest, lengthiest, and most enthralling entry in the series to date. Everything from its refined trademark difficulty and its addictive physics-based play, right up to its epic track design and its truly sensational camerawork, is nothing short of outstanding. That being said, RedLynx really needs to address its screen tearing, and fast.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.