Hang out with your friends in the mountains in Ubisoft’s newest game

Ubisoft isn’t famous for its great sports games, because it rarely releases them. An occasional racing game or stunt game aside, the publisher doesn’t mess around with the competition. That’s probably partly because it’s so fierce. Take a look at game series like FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer, and you’ll see there’s no real competition for them on the gaming market, and that’s probably not changing anytime soon. But there’s a segment of sports that hasn’t been explored much — roaming around freely with your friends. In Steep, which was announced at Ubisoft’s press conference at E3 2016 on Monday, the point is to explore and share challenges with your friends.

Each piece of equipment seems to come with its own feel.

The game was introduced as “the next big thing” by Ubisoft, and it certainly sticks out from the rest. The studio responsible for development is Ubisoft Annecy, located just a few miles from Le Mont Blanc in the Alps at the intersection of Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and France. As such, the studio has been inspired by the local mountains to develop Steep. But rather than developing your typical competitive snowboarding game, the developers chose to create something more akin to hanging out in the mountains with your friends and taking on challenges. Rebecka Coutaz, studio manager, and Igor Manceau, creative director, took the stage to showcase their new game.

Climbing mountaintops is no easy feat, but a major focal point of Steep is the seamless transition from one area to the next while enjoying the mountains. You have set drop zones in the game that you can travel to instantly, and since the gameplay on display at E3 2016 showed that they were close to unlocking a new drop zone, we’re guessing players will unlock more and more drop zones as they progress in the game.

ubisoft e3 2016 steep trail line
Using your trail you can set up challenges for other players.

Unlocking drop zones is done from the game’s Mountain View modem, and that’s where you create your own challenges. Creating challenges consists of roaming about and then going back to Mountain View, which provides a three-dimensional map of the mountain topography. Doing this allows you to check out the surrounding mountains and also to follow your trail down the mountain. Looking at your trail, you can see statistics regarding your performance, as well as activate a challenge based on what you’ve done and where you’ve done it. It’s a surprisingly sleek way to integrate the multiplayer experience into the competitive nature of sports, without necessarily making it all about the competition.

Because, in the end, you’re still free to just make your way in whatever fashion you please, using one of the mountain sports styles in the game. You can extend your feet and ski, strap on a wing suit and fly, take the flip happy skateboard, or calmly parachute your way down. Each piece of equipment seems to come with its own feel, and the first-person perspective of skiing doesn’t look like it’s something for those who easily become motion sick.

You can use the trail you’ve traveled to check out the replay of what you did, while moving the camera around to get a screenshot if you have someone to impress. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a free camera, so it’s possible that you’re limited to character-centered camera work. Entering replay mode, however, lets you follow other players and what they’re doing as well.

The sort of multiplayer games that embrace playing in small groups has grown more popular in recent years. Games like Destiny from Bungie or Journey from Thatgamecompany have shown that there’s a great deal of people willing to take part in multiplayer experiences where you don’t necessarily play in huge groups or clans. It seems like Ubisoft Annecy has taken note, and this is a game worth keeping your eye on.

Steep is set to be released in December on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. If you’re interested in trying the gam,e you can register for beta participation on the game’s website. You can check out more in the gameplay footage below.

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