The Alaska update is the latest in a series of updates to the Steep game from Ubisoft. Not only is it a huge expansion to the map size, but also brings with it new costumes and a new type of event called the branded challenge.
NOTE: This review is based on playing the Alaska region in March 2017. The notables listed are my personal observations of changes that occurred between January (when I originally played Steep) and when I returned to the game in March.
The Alaska Region
Alaska is not only beautiful to look at, with lovely flowers sprouting up through the snow and colorful cities on the mountainside, but also an extremely different environment than that of the Alps. The snow-covered trees are massive, causing players to lose their line of sight when passing through them. A lot less rocky areas exist which makes it even tougher to get enough air to trick and score points. Some of the snowy areas are so deep that you have to stay high and ride the snowlines to continue your forward momentum.
When first exploring the new region, you’ll have at least 3 snowboarding/skiing challenges that await. One gives you experience riding the snowline, one introduces you to a new urban area, and the Salomon Orientation challenge gives you a long ride which helps get you accustomed to the region’s landscape. As you begin to unlock more of the 21 new challenges, you will feel a familiarity wash over you as most are similar in set-up to those found in the Alps. The good news is that the new terrain allows these additional challenges to still feel fresh and new.
It’s obvious that Alaska has been built to incentive players who’ve maxed out at level 25 to keep playing (or come back to play). Not only has the overall rank been increased to level 30, but some of the challenges require you to be at level 26 or above to access them. This isn’t to say you can’t play some of Alaska if you’re at a lower level, you’ll just have many more choices of challenges to choose from (especially in snowboarding/skiing) if you’re level 25 or above.
Earning enough units to purchase a costume is most certainly one of the highlights of the game. With the latest update, a few more have been added including some colorful Yetis, monsters, and a black/red spider. Season pass owners can also access (for free) the Sasquatch and Dollar proximity (wingsuit) costumes. Ubisoft has promised even more costumes down the road including the two exclusive wingsuits eventually being available to all players (for purchase).
This is a new type of challenge which will be updated every 2 weeks. The Branded Challenges will vary in location, some being in Alaska and others in the Alps. Some will be based on points, others on timing. They will also vary in difficulty.
In my brief experience with 2 of these challenges so far, they are basically just another opportunity to compete with others on-line. The biggest difference is that these happen to be sponsored (like in real life sports) by a company.
There are now 8 challenges in total; 4 in Alaska and 4 in the Alps. These have also been updated to allow you to earn XP with each one you beat.
If, like me, you haven’t played Steep since January there have been several enhancements/ updates since then. These are some of the ones that stood out to me the most when I returned to the game:
- New songs have been added to the music selections
- Clothing items are sometimes on sale
- You can now win clothing items by medaling in certain events/ completing mountain stories
- Sending / Accepting invites to be a part of a group is no longer glitchy
- Transporting to a friend now works
- The G-Force factor is much more consistent
- There are more opportunities to earn Bone Collector points
- The Ubisoft Club area has a whole new look and a very detailed listing of stats
- The Live area advertises new gear/clothing, challenges, developer livestreams, and more.
Another area that was in transition when I last played was the Freeride World Tour. Originally it was only open to higher level players (which left me out at first), and then later was in transition as I was moving on to play other games.
I’m excited to report that it’s now up and running and my first experience with it was a lot of fun. There are 3 rounds to the competition. They go as follows:
- Find the Freeride World Tour challenge, beat the qualifying score and move onto the next round.
- Take on challenge #2 where you’ll have 10 attempts to make it into one of the top 32 spots. If successful, you move to the finals.
- Compete in the final challenge for Steep credits/ reputation (rank) points.
From my personal experience, the first round is only moderately difficult where most people can probably pass the test. You can run it as many times as needed and you have the opportunity to win medals and units if successful.
Round 2 is where the difficulty really amps up. It’s understandable if you can’t make it past this step. Personally, I failed miserably and wasn’t even close to having enough points to go to the finals. The good news is that even if you don’t make it but want to continue to try and test yourself on the new course, you can play it as many times as you want. After attempt 10, it won’t help you get to the finals, but you can still do it for fun and to earn medals and XP.
Basically, Ubisoft has done what any smart on-line game developer should do which is incentive people to continue (or come back to) playing their product. They’ve fixed a huge amount of bugs, given us more territory to explore, a new type of challenge, a higher level cap (30), more events, and more costumes. This is definitely an update to be excited about and one that will keep us all busy for a while to come.
GC Rating: 8.5