Editor’s Note: This is a written script of the Video Review found above.
Trials Rising is the latest installment in RedLynx and Ubisoft’s motocross racing series, but the first on a Nintendo Console. It’s been almost 10 years since Trials HD hit the Xbox Live Arcade, but wacky physics, strategic platforming, and high octane action have always been staples of the series, and Rising certainly doesn’t disappoint on these fronts.
For those new to the series, there is a convenient set of tutorials in University of Trials, that really help you get to grips with the core mechanics. As the game will teach you, full throttle isn’t the most effective technique, and taking a more deliberate approach will improve your gameplay significantly.
The techniques you’ll learn become vital as you progress, as the series is known and revered for its difficulty in the later stages, requiring mastery of the bike’s physics and nerves of steel. Even in the early levels, you should expect crashes, slams, and wipeouts galore. As ever, there are handy checkpoints dotted throughout levels that let you respawn for a small time penalty, but if you’re a perfectionist like me, every fault is a restart.
This is the draw of Trials; that ever-growing compulsion for perfection, that need to try one more time – next time you’ll get that gold, next run will be perfect. This is compounded by the online leaderboards, where your friends’ scores will taunt you and your rivals’ ghosts will mock your inability to defeat their times. Certainly a significant appeal to some, but I was satisfied with the occasional top-30 spot. The ability to directly challenge any ghost from the leaderboard is a nice touch, providing you with an opportunity to learn a faster route or when and how to optimally lean.
Most levels will pit you against 3 random ghost riders – which are usually real times from the leaderboards – who serve as compelling visceral motivation to get the best time possible. It does take the wind out of your sails when you defeat them only to discover their time scrapes a silver medal, though, and your lofty victory is slower than a few hundred others. The return of Skill Games is a welcome change of pace and makes good use of the game’s ragdoll physics to provide some unique and interesting challenges.
As you level up and unlock new bikes and locations, you’ll also encounter sponsors that set challenge contracts in return for some experience, currency and the occasional customisation piece. Unfortunately, the challenges are largely derivative, often setting you a target that you would normally achieve through routine gameplay such as ‘finish within 2 minutes’ or ‘crash less than 10 times’. There are some more engaging goals set later into the game, such as performing a number of flips or maintaining airtime, but these were the exception rather than the rule.
Completing these contracts is the fastest way to level up, which brings me onto some sordid topics. Firstly, there’s a significant grind required to get enough currency to buy most things in the store. Admittedly, they are mostly cosmetic items, but you do need a hefty balance to unlock 2 bikes unless you want to spend money on Rising’s premium currency, Acorns. Acorns can be acquired in small quantities by finding hidden collectibles, but it’s unclear exactly how many can be obtained this way, and the price of Acorns is currently unavailable on the eShop.
What I will say is that the ‘lootboxes’ here aren’t the sinful egregious kind that we’ve come to expect from the name. You’ll unlock one every time you level up, and I soon had more than I knew what to do with and they only contain cosmetic items, which you can discard for some currency – a welcome rarity that alleviates some of the grind. They also can’t be purchased for premium currency – at least, not at the time of reviewing.
I wasn’t able to test out the full multiplayer, but I did play a few games in the open beta, and this was a blast. The developers have said there will a Seasonal structure similar to games such as Overwatch, where you make a fresh climb through the rankings each season. This is a popular system, and will no-doubt keep competitive players entertained for months to come. If co-operative multiplayer is more your speed, there’s a new addition in the form of a tandem bike that gives each rider 50% of the throttle and leaning control, which is sure to provide hilarity and arguments in equal measure.
Trials Rising is certainly leaps and bounds ahead of Trials HD, and if this is your first game in the series then you’re sure to love it. Looking back, though, Rising feels like a step back from Trials Fusion, in many ways. They’ve stripped out the tricks system that added extra flair and variety, and the challenges pale in comparison to their former selves. In addition, many gamers will lament the microtransactions, loot boxes and hefty grind that have been added to Trials Rising, understandably so. They didn’t really hinder my enjoyment, however, but it will leave a bad taste in the mouths of many.
Audio, Visuals & Performance
Trials Rising features a fully licensed soundtrack that leans heavily on the rock and metal genres with bands like Billy Talent and Motörhead, designed to get the adrenaline pumping through your veins and it complements the gameplay very well. This, combined with the visual spectacle and diversity on display throughout the ever-changing levels serves up a feast for the eyes and ears. I particularly liked when levels bent perspective to mix up the 3D landscape but maintain the 2-dimensional track. In terms of performance, I did experience a few crashes when starting up the game, but outside of this, everything was buttery smooth in handheld and docked play.
The base game costs £20 or $25 dollars, which is already a pretty good deal for the hundred or so tracks included, but for a little bit extra you can get the Gold Edition, which includes future paid DLC and some exclusive cosmetic options. I’m not really a fan of the ‘Season Pass’ structure, but this seems to be offering a lot of content, and if you buy a physical copy, you’ll only pay an additional £8 or so.
Now, as I mentioned, this is the first Trials release on a Nintendo console, and eclipses any competition on the Switch, but I just want to set your expectations if you’re coming into having already played Trials Fusion. I enjoyed Trials Rising on Nintendo Switch based on its quality, enjoyable gameplay, the extensive content available and its sheer dominance over the genre. I’m unsure, however, whether it’s a significant improvement of the series.
Finally, I just wanted to add some personal feelings, separate to the review. I know some people will be unhappy with the monetisation of Trials, but I think they’ve gone about it in a reasonably fair way. The only real gripe I have with the microtransactions at the moment is how long it takes to unlock new bikes. I almost immediately regretted purchasing the Helium, as the handling is difficult to control and it has less power than other bikes. There’s a variety of stickers and cosmetic customisations for your bike and rider than you can purchase, too, so the in-game currency is spread thinly as it is. Fortunately for me, I’m not all that bothered about customisation – I just made my rider look as silly as possible, as you can probably tell from the video review.
Addictive, rewarding gameplay
Eclipses any copycats on the Switch
Co-op and competitive multiplayer
Extensive customisation, powerful track editor
Grind for bikes takes too long
Switch version hampered a little