Perfectly suited to Nintendo Switch.
I will definitely be playing Trials Rising on Switch. The short burst levels and new comprehensive level creator are perfect for Nintendo’s handheld, and I’m even willing to snap off half a JoyCon to let a mate jump on the back of a tandem bike (but based on his E3 preview, that mate won’t be Steve).
Despite my preference for portable crashes, that is all theoretical as my Gamescom preview of Trials Rising was actually played using an Xbox One controller, which is good too. Having already demonstrated tandem bikes, and without the level creator playable at Gamescom – although we did learn it provides exactly the same tools the developers use to craft levels – the focus was on spectacular crashes, which RedLynx knows is key to the Trials DNA.
I narrowed my focus to the new Stadium Finals mode, which pits eight riders against each other in a tight race to the finish, on more conventional racetracks in contrast to the explosion-laden courses, and keeps eliminating 50% of the field until the final two face off in the grand final. If you fail in the third of four legs, that’s it; there’s no do-over from that position, and you are back to the very beginning. In a game that’s built upon accepting failure and trying, trying, and trying again, it introduces an element of a final chance, without room for error.
That classic Trials experience is still the backbone of Rising, and I was able to dabble across a selection of courses from beginner to extreme. I used an easy stage to reacquaint myself with the critical balance physics that make Trials possible, before finding my zone in the medium tracks.
That’s the point where Trials really clicks and I feel a grand sense of satisfaction as I perilously stick a landing just ahead of a checkpoint and blast to the finish line, fireballs in tow, with hardly any horrifying crashes to my name. The hard courses are where it all flips. There are where you really have to focus on getting the balance, speed and positioning of the bike just right, and while I’m glad to say I passed all of the hard courses on offer at Gamescom, they chewed up a considerable portion of the hour preview.
For many players these are what make Trails so addictive. They are punishing and you will be quick to hit the reset button dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times during a single course. Often too quickly, actually, as the next checkpoint can be a lucky fall (with style) away if you let the chaos ride. The more I played, the more it came back to me, and it’s gratifying to overcome an obstacle mere minutes after believing it to be impossible, as you continuously learn the subtleties between the bike and its environment. Yet another reason why I think Trials Rising is so perfectly suited to Switch.
I must confess I couldn’t conquer the extreme stage included in the demo build. I am committed to getting there in the final game, but it’s clearly meant to be worked towards, without skipping ahead. However, I did get further than I had expected due to the improved ghosts system. You can now see the full ghost rider of past attempts or your friends, and with a bunch of (possibly) successful players who had gone before me, I was able to learn from their mistakes, as much as my own, and try to imitate their successes. On less insane difficulties, being able to see how a player tilts their bike, and their speed, which is equally as important (note to Jeremy Clarkson: speed and power aren’t always the answer), allows you to see how a friend/acquaintance/rival achieved a certain time. That’s the key to beating it to send them into a fury when the leaderboard notification comes through they are no longer top dog, and the pattern repeats itself.
Also at Gamescom, we discovered a closed beta will be running between 13 September – 17 September kicking off at 6:00pm AEST (10:00am CEST). You can sign up for that on the Trails website for PC, Xbox One or PS4, and can preload the beta from 12 September.
Trials Rising will launch on 12 February 2019 for Windows PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
Ben Salter travelled to Cologne, Germany as a guest of Ubisoft. The arrangement does not impact our Ubisoft coverage, nor limit additional Gamescom coverage. Ubisoft covered flights, accommodation and meals.