Rider’s Republic – How Ubisoft Creates a Huge Sports Sandbox

In 2016, Ubisoft decided to get EXTREME in the mountains. Steep was the name of the game, traversing the snowiest Alps was its goal and magnificent was its setting. A meditative and tranquil experience that allowed you to plan your own Winter Olympics, Steep had plenty to do if you were into snowboarding, skiing and paragliding.

But now that the snow has melted, the action has shifted to muddier pursuits, and America’s national parks have been transformed into a social experiment for some outdoor sports in Rider’s Republic. Which not only changes the tone, but also the attitude. “Rider’s Republic has a totally different vibe, I think the tone is much more friendly and fun,” creative director Igor Manceau told us.

From a gameplay perspective, we have a totally different control scheme and logic. But it’s really about being social. The whole game is built around being with friends, having lots of players around you. I think that’s the core of the game above all else. It really is a very different game in many ways.

One of the main features of Steep will not just be the world players can explore, but its density with other players populating multiple regions and engaging in their own pursuits. For the Ubisoft team, this not only creates a busy landscape to explore, but also an energetic one. “We will be able to play matches on next-gen consoles, up to 50 players,” Manceau said.

It creates life and energy, a dynamic that I think we’ve rarely seen in a video game. With other players you will be able to group up and enter competitive nodes, but generally speaking this living space is a central part of the game. Once you are grouped up with friends all main content will be accessible for you to play in versus mode. You will be able to progress in the game with a very friendly competitive spirit.

To keep the game world competitive, Rider’s Republic has a trick up its server sleeves: spots on the map, where players can fight and claim if they’re good enough to do so. “You also have some really dedicated multiplayer modes. One of them will be the Tricks Battle Arena. There are spots and opportunities for you to do tricks, and if you do good tricks, you’ll own this place,” Manceau said.

The twist here is that you also have sub-region areas that you can try to attack as a group, to own the overall area. This creates a strong team dynamic where you’re going to have to really use your tactics to rush to new areas and protect yours, dividing your team. From what we’ve seen in playtests, this creates a really fun dynamic.

And then there are the mass events. We will create moments in the game where we invite players. The idea is to have races where we will have up to 50 players grouped together in a dynamic race. It creates something that I think we’ve never seen in flow and fun.

As for the world itself, it definitively feels Ubisoft in its design by being gargantuan. “We have seven main regions, it’s really a massive open world,” explained Manceau.

What we’ve done is put together seven US national parks. The way they are sewn together is kind of fancy, but we managed to make it look really natural. It is really the natural topology of these places that you have been able to visit. Each of these regions offers something unique and special from a gameplay and mood perspective. Some of them are snowy, some of them have more urbanized environments.

They bring different flavors to the game in terms of gameplay opportunities.

Riders Republic will be released next year on February 25 on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Stadia.

On PC, the game will be exclusive to The Epic Games Store and Ubisoft’s UPlay portal.

Last update: September 11, 2020

Earnest L. Veasey