Trials Rising is the latest addition to the Trials series, a physics-based motorcycle racing game that also incorporates puzzle platforming. It’s based on the real-life sport of motorcycle trials, which involves competitors maneuvering a motorcycle around an obstacle course. Real world participants however don’t typically have to contend with explosive barrels, courses on moving trains, or cannons that launch them hundreds of feet into the air.
One of the interesting things about the Trials Rising stages is how they evolve over the course of the game. At the beginning of the game, the easy tracks are fairly straightforward races. A player new to the Trials series might focus on learning the basics, getting gold medals and completing the races with zero mistakes, but in later levels the game takes on shades of Super Meat Boy and becomes a puzzle platformer where it can be a struggle to complete a stage at all. The obstacles and jumps become more and more complicated, requiring leaning back and forth on the bike as well as precision throttle control on the gas and brakes.
Trials Rising is the first game in the series with cross-platform functionality. Players who have linked their accounts with Ubisoft Club will have their race times uploaded to global leaderboards and other players will be able to race against their ghost. These ghosts make up the majority of opponents you will face in the single-player portion of the game, as the game will select ones close to your current time for the course (or ones close to the bronze, silver, and gold medal times if it’s your first time running that one). There’s also public multiplayer where you can race directly against other people in a series of races. Even though they are on the same stages as the single player races, they feel very different. The stakes are much higher since if you screw up a jump on your own, it’s simple enough to restart the race and try again, but in versus while you can restart individual check points if you mess up, you only get one shot to get it all right.
Achievement/trophy hunters will have their work cut out for them with Trials Rising, the list is absolutely brutal. At the time of writing, 29 of the 36 achievements on Xbox One have a less than 5% unlock rate, 10 of those being less than 1% and I don’t foresee that increasing very much. They cover a wide range of activities in the game, including finding collectibles, performing stunts, getting gold medals in everything, etc. None of them seem impossible, but between the grind of playing through every track to get good times and finding collectibles, and the practice necessary to acquire the skills needed to even pass some of the later tracks you’ll have to spend dozens if not hundreds of hours with the game.
Luckily there are some very good resources out there that can help you acquire those skills. An Australian YouTuber who goes by “Professor FatShady” has been making helpful videos for Trials players for many years and Ubisoft recruited him to help with the excellent Trials Rising in-game tutorials. These videos and stages do a great job of easing players into the more advanced tracks, giving them helpful tools to get through obstacles when they get stuck. Between these and the ability to download any ghost from the leaderboards, the tools are there for anyone who wants to put in the time to get better at the game, but it will require one to put in the work to do so.
I found the soundtrack to be very reminiscent of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. The mixture of licensed punk, rock, metal, and hip-hop songs that even features some of the artists that contributed tracks to the THPS games such as Jurassic 5 and Bouncing Souls. There weren’t any stand-out songs to me, nothing that really got me into the groove while playing, but it blended into the background nicely which is greatly appreciated when you’re retrying a jump for the twentieth time.
One downside to the game is the lootboxes. I’m not opposed to the concept of lootboxes when they’re done well. While you do earn free drops at a good rate, actually opening one in this game feels fairly unsatisfying. I love customizing characters in games, so the clothing drops are right up my alley but most of the time you only get stickers to place on your clothes, which if you have the time and sense of design I’m sure could be used to come up with some neat stuff, but it can be very underwhelming to receive the letter “J” in a different font or a “rare” squiggly line when you just want a new pair of pants. Luckily, members of the Trials community with a better design sense than me can share their creations with the in-game store and earn Trials Coins (the in-game currency).
Overall, I had a lot of fun with Trials Rising. There were so many times I would sit down to play for a 20-minute session, and then two hours would go by with me telling myself “just one more track” after each one. When I get stuck in places, it still feels very fair, I never thought a fall was due to rng or cheapness, just my own execution. That being said, if you’re prone to raging or controller-throwing, Trials Rising can be maddening at times so beware and be prepared.
Trials Rising is available now on PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. This review is based on an Xbox One copy provided by the publisher.
- Addictive gameplay
- Wide variety of courses and modes
- Difficult, but extremely satisfying when you surpass previous skill barriers
- Underwhelming lootboxes
- Occasional lag can make tricky jumps even harder
- Unlocking new courses can be a bit grindy in the mid and late game