Among the many fascinating titles that UbiSoft revealed at its E3 2016 press conference, one little title that may have become lost among the squeals of joy for Watch Dogs 2 and For Honor was Steep. But in the seven-minute gameplay demonstration, Ubi showed off a title that looks to be something of a dark horse.
Steep finds itself in a strange position where know one quite knows what to expect out of it, mainly because the concept itself is not only hard to pin into one genre. It's also an exciting prospect, to think that your game has the chance to be the first of its kind and start a new type of experience.
The strange combination of action sports and open world exploration is what makes Steep so intriguing, allowing a freeform community vibe that lets you shred the snow with your buddies. It's one thing to create an open world environment for friends to hang out in, but giving them access to snowboards, skis and wingsuits? Count me in.
It's easy to see why Steep was overlooked. It wasn't the next entry in a major franchise and it doesn't have a proven commodity, as in being a third-person action game with quick-time events or a first-person shooter. If you'll pardon the pun, Steep has a tall mountain to climb, and it's thrilling to think that we're here to watch it all the way from its humble first steps.
So let's take a trip to the Alps and find out why Steep might just be the sleeper hit of 2016 that no one is expecting.
7. The Scale Is Outrageous
One of the first things Ubi did to show off Steep was display its truly mesmerizing scale, showing off the amazing vista like it was a future Assassin's Creed title. The effect was immediate, making your character look incredibly small in comparison to the huge mountain ranges in front of you.
It adds an impressive scale to the already enormous sense of awe, especially when you consider that all these mountains are within your reach. There's something special about when a game shows you a place in the distance, promising that you can reach it in the future, then actually allowing you to do so.
6. It Embraces A Fantastic Power Fantasy
Let's face it; not all of us are able to shred down a mountain, the wind in our sails as we plunge down with our adrenaline at an all-time high. It's a high that a lot of folks won't ever experience, myself included. Most of us just don't have the stomach for it, but so long as you can play video games, Steep doesn't mind that one bit.
Steep understands the fantasy of being able to do these insane things, giving you the tools to do it in a virtual world. You don't have to be an athlete or skilled professional to participate in these thrilling excursions of winter action sports, just a controller and a few friends.
5. It Encourages A Communal Experience
And speaking of those friends, you'll need them when you load up Steep for the first time, as it encourages you to topple these mountains with your buddies. Steep understands that friends have to drop the facade every once in a while and enter competitive mode, one-upping each other to prove their dominance.
It's the type of game that knows that the better friends you are with someone, the more exciting the competition is. Steep isn't about shooting up aliens or stopping an invasion force, but just about hanging out with your buddies and tearing it up on the mountain. It's about friendship and bonds, something most games tend to ignore.
4. It's Wonderfully Inclusive
In addition to the community vibes that Steep plays off of, it also takes great lengths to make sure that it's for everyone. While you customize your action sports athlete, Ubi also lets you outfit him or her in some pretty outlandish gear. Clown masks and monster helmets aren't discouraged in the world of Steep, for what that's worth.
Your action sports avatar is uniquely you, which means you'll be sharing the mountains with some pretty interesting folks. It's a wonderful break from skill-based shooters such as The Division and twitch-shooters like Unreal Tournament, inviting everyone to the mountain in order to have a good time.
3. The Open World Is Gorgeous
While it may be easy to criticize Steep for having an open world that consists largely of snow and mountain ranges, it's hard to not be in awe of its sweeping vistas and wide open spaces. And while it's unconfirmed, there does appear to be ski lodges and buildings dotted across the map, which we will hopefully be able to customize to our liking.
Not only that, but the attention to detail by Ubi is pretty fantastic. As you trudge through the snow-capped mountains, the winter powder clumps up around your legs with a striking realism. Walking around looks and feels weighty, giving some legitimate context to this tremendous world.
2. The Immersion Is Breathtaking
During Ubi's E3 gameplay demonstration of Steep, we saw the player engage in some pretty exciting activities. They raced with their friends, performed dazzling tricks and soaked up the immense atmosphere. But even more impressive than that? The immersion.
It may be a simple thing, but during a wingsuit race with friends, the contest came to an end without hard cutting straight to a "Rematch" screen. The race just ended, putting you back on the course and letting you choose your destination. It lacked the feel of playing a video game, but rather being part of a living world.
Steep doesn't want you to feel like you're turning on your console and playing a video game, because it wants to immerse you in this lovely world. It's something that games like Metroid Prime and BioShock have done, feeling less like a collection of levels, but an entire world at your disposal. Hopefully, Steep will accomplish this same daunting feat.
1. There's Nothing Else Like it
As we live in a world with many different games, all from different genres and styles, it's absolutely crucial to stand out. In a crowd of amazing things that emerged out of E3, with everything from Breath of the Wild to a concrete release date for The Last Guardian, it's important for Steep to be its own thing.
Thankfully, Steep is doing everything it can to be noticed. The very concept is a good start, which is strengthened by its unique look on open world multiplayer experiences. It's hard to not imagine players remembering good times they've had with friends in games like Minecraft, now adding a rush of adrenaline to the mix.
There are literally no games on the market that allow you and your friends to ascend a mountain, race each other in wingsuits and then decide to shred another peak in skis. And for that, Steep might just be the dark horse of 2016 that no one is expecting.
What excites you about Steep? Are there any other games in 2016 that you feel are underappreciated or overlooked? Let us know in the comments!