Ubisoft is known for bringing out a brand-new sandbox every year, but the majority of them are very similar and quite dull *cough* Assassin's Creed *cough*. However, E3 showed new sandboxes from not only Ubisoft but many other companies as well, including titles like Days Gone and Horizon Zero Dawn, both from Sony.
The limits are endless for sandbox games, but, in most cases, they end up as an action-adventure or an RPG. However, this time, Ubisoft is changing it up, postponing a new Assassin's Creed this year and instead focusing on both Watch_Dogs 2 and a new project: Steep.
Having skied nearly all my life, "Steep" looked to me like an interesting and creative take on popular winter sports. So far, the sports available to play in the beta are Skiing, Snowboarding, Wing-suiting, and Paragliding, although there may be more added in time. Each sport has its own challenges set up to test the player's skills, such as Big Air, Proximity Flying, and Forest Slaloms. Moreover, you can interchange between each sport at any point in the game, giving a larger sense of freedom throughout the world and a way to create extreme stunts in challenges.
The map is said to be set in both The Alps and Alaska, with mountains such as Mont Blanc being included. Furthermore, any area of the map can be your spawn point using the "Mountain View" mode. This mode shows the entire mountain range and allows for instant teleportation around it.
Ubisoft has stated that sharing and competing with friends is one of the main intentions in Steep. You can seamlessly meet other players all around the map, and you can choose to follow them if you wish — or you can remain in your single-player experience. Challenges can be set by friends online at any point and range from pulling the best stunts, winning races, or just having the best crash. Everyone can challenge each other and compete for the best scores and records, increasing the social intention Ubisoft aims for.
Don't worry if you aren't the social type, though! Ubisoft has you covered. Instead of challenging others, you can challenge yourself with personal bests and by creating your own circuits in the sandbox, thus giving way to your own snowy adventure. Furthermore, you can make your own journeys and explore the whole mountain range, allowing you to find hidden secrets and experience unique moments throughout the world.
Along with challenges, Steep also supports GoPro, meaning it supports a first-person perspective which can be swapped to whenever you desire it. The first-person aspect would make the sports even more exciting and invigorating, giving them a more personal feel and making the crashes all that much funnier.
The GoPro can capture any footage in first-person, whereas the third-person has a replay system similar to the one in Skate 3 (if people still play that). This allows you to capture any footage in both perspectives and record stunts, jumps, and crashes. They can then be put in slow-motion and edited how you like, with multiple camera angles and filters to help you create a truly special replay. These replays can then be shared with friends and presented for the world to see.
Although Steep is being released in quarter four (a.k.a., likely December of this year), from what was seen at E3 and what is to be expected, Steep looks to be an inventive decision for Ubisoft and a change to the open-world genre. Sporting games have taken somewhat of a back seat this generation, so seeing an idea like this in production is quite encouraging. Let's just hope it doesn't run onto thin ice. Sorry, snow more puns, even if they are pretty cool.