Trials Rising Preview

Trials Rising is the next upcoming game in Ubisoft’s Trials series of physics-based motorcycle games, and I had the opportunity to enjoy a brief demo. Unlike previous offerings in recent years, like the futuristic Trials Fusion or the Trials Rise of the Blood Dragon spin-off, Trials Rising is a more down-to-earth basic approach at the formula – realistic tracks around the world for you to race through on your motorbike.

I got to try out Trials Rising on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Both control and perform well, and the two versions appear identical. If you’ve played a Trials game, the gameplay will be similar, taking your customizable avatar and motorbike around the world. Of course, there are races against other bikers, but there are also a surprising number of time trial solo races with a simple challenge: survive to the finish line. As you progress, you unlock more leagues and gain sponsors that help you accomplish certain missions, such as finishing in first without crashing.

All the tracks are on 2.5D planes. The beginner areas are simpler affairs, where you stay on the tracks by leaning back and forth to keep your motorcycle straight. It’s not a complicated control scheme, but success lies on proper timing and finesse. You can perform stunts like flips and wheelies to gain speed or show off, but you’ll have to stick the landing or risk a gruesome crash. And these extreme crashes are actually hilarious to watch. Although I was always disappointed to miss a landing, I immediately broke out in laughter witnessing my driver fall off his bike, break his extremities, and suddenly explode. In a cruel twist of fate, every race ends with the rider crashing past the finish line. It’s violent but also hilariously cartoonish.

What I enjoyed most were some later tracks, most of which took place outside of the U.S. The tracks’ clever obstacle placement really tested my mettle, and they were all aesthetically themed based on their location. An Egyptian track revolved around pyramids, and an area in Seoul took my racer above skyscrapers. One race even took place atop airplanes. In these difficult levels, the challenge goes beyond sticking the landing. I actually had to figure out different strategies on how to get past each hazard. For example, I might have to lean back or forward at a specific angle and time my boosts just to get onto a steep ledge. In some cases, performing a certain number of stunts is actually required to maintain enough speed to reach the next area. The physics, albeit exaggerated, necessitate precise movements and a thorough understanding of how your bike weight factors into stunts and landings. One of my favorites was the Mt. Everest track, where I had to patiently assess how to conquer every obstacle and celebrated every time I activated the next checkpoint. Thank goodness for checkpoints. With them, I was able to keep trying different maneuvers, hoping that one of them would help me cross whatever gap or obstacle stood in my way.

The dynamic tracks feature a lot of creativity: breakable floors, loop de loops, falling walls, and platforms that suddenly appear or disappear. Trials Rising is essentially a mix of racing, platformer, and puzzle. Every track requires mental prowess and insane skill to execute complex maneuvers.

The challenge grows more complex as you factor all that into the fast pace of racing. I felt like I had to actively practice each individual stage just to stand a chance in an eight-player race. It’s one of those cases where I actually wanted to play more difficult stages to test my skill in a real competitive setting. With a group of great players, I can see both local and online multiplayer to be a blast. Speaking of which, multiplayer has a bonus Tandem Bike mode with two players racing together on one bike. With good communication, a bicycle built for two isn’t as hard as it seems, but without proper communication, I can see this mode being hilarious, especially on the more chaotic tracks.

There is an element of customization, and you can unlock costumes, clothes, and stickers. In-game loot boxes offer random sets of aesthetic options, but you can also buy them with real money. Obviously, that won’t sit well with everyone, so hopefully there isn’t anything worthwhile exclusive through this microtransaction paywall.

A final gameplay feature is the track editor. I didn’t get to dive deep into it, but from what I saw, there are a variety of backgrounds and assets. Some of them are new to Trials Rising while others hail from older games in the series. For any custom builder, the quality will depend on the creators, and I would be very interested to see what some imaginative minds upload online when the game launches.

Trials Rising is shaping up to be a solid entry. It doesn’t do anything crazy like some of its previous titles, but it offers simple fun in its creative track design, appealing customizability, and heated races. The game is essentially an extreme Excitebike, combining puzzle-platforming and stunt racing for a new generation of consoles. Brave racers can experience the adrenaline when Trials Rising launches on PS4, Switch, Xbox One, and PC on February 26, 2019.

I am a lifelong gamer, having grown up with Nintendo since I was young. My passion for gaming led to one of the greatest moments of my life, my video game themed wedding!