Preview: Trials Rising (Closed Beta)
I loved Trials HD and Trials Evolution but got lost after Trials Fusion. It lost the “fun” factor for me but I am always down to try a new one. (Yes, I skipped Trials of the Blood Dragon.) So when the closed beta came up I jumped at the chance to see if the newest iteration recaptured what Trials HD had. Trials HD was a game that my friends, co-workers, and I would constantly compete over. I would run into a random person at work who would be upset that I kept beating their times by fractions of a second. It made me late on many occasions because I just “had” to beat my brother’s time. It was fantastic and it holds a special place in my gaming heart.
The Trials series is getting back to basics with Trials Rising after the futuristic and neon soaked versions of the last few years. I like this idea, mostly because I was not a fan of Fusion and skipped Blood Dragon because it just didn’t look good. Moving back to a “real world” setting gives the game some grounding (who are we kidding, where would you ever set this all up and why would explosives be involved?). I am basing this off of the handful of levels that were available to play during the beta, so take that with a grain of salt. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty…
First, as soon as I fired Trials Rising up it looked more like an updated version of the old Road Rash or original Grand Theft Auto. You get a top down map of the world and can select tracks from there. Each one has its own challenges, of course, and some have the newly minted, sponsor challenges. Sponsors include everyone from Red Lynx to Fox and all of them offer different benefits. None of which I am sure of yet, the beta did not go into them. I actually hate the new interface, it is just one more loading screen that increases my wait time to have fun. This is a problem that seems to be growing in a lot of games. I do not want to have to wait for the game to start, then make it through the forced screens for the developers and others, then select an option to wait for the game to load again, then end up at a map screen that I have to select a level from, then it loads again before I get to actually play. I don’t mind being told who the developer, engine, and publisher are because they need to be recognized but could we at least use that time to load the rest of what I am going to have to do? Or like Trials HD just have me go to a selection screen so I can choose which difficulty. Why would I want to scroll around a map trying to find the harder levels? It's bloat for the sake of it rather than for any reason in particular. I think they were trying to shoot for an edgy/sleek level select but it just seems clunky and out dated.
Second, the gameplay and maps were great fun. I know I talked a lot of shit up there but once you are riding the maps are fun and you ride against “ghosts” (other players who have completed the level previously). The ghosts create a sense of dread as you fall behind or joy when you whoop them. The sponsor challenges seem like they will be fun too. Unfortunately in the beta they only had two challenges and one of them wouldn’t work. The description just said, “Beat.” Maybe it’s a tribute to Dwight on The Office but in that case I have no idea if I am supposed to find a bear or watch Battle Star Galactica. Either way I could not get it to work for the life of me. At first, I just thought I had to beat the ghost but about halfway through it said failed. So, I then retried it a million different ways. I tried making sure he was never on screen, that he was always on screen, not blowing up the barrels, etc. This was all to no avail. Maybe it was just locked for the beta and I was over doing it, it never said but if that was the case they should have just hid/removed it. Like I said, the layouts are fun and require a lot of finesse right out of the gate if you want to get your gold medals or the always elusive platinum. I really enjoyed that it matched you up with riders of similar skill and that as you did better it matched you against different people.
The multiplayer doesn’t just stop at playing against ghosts. You can ride a tandem bike. It seems to be a hilarious disaster. I want to try this thing on the hard levels. I don’t know what kind of telepathic link you have to have with your team mate to complete it with that thing. Maybe they will have to create a sort of sci-fi thing like in Pacific Rim because I see no way to be that in sync. It’s good for a laugh and for those that are looking for a damn near impossible challenge, this is right up your alley.
Trials Rising also offers a wide range of customization. You can choose the sex, helmet, stickers, bike color, skin color, and your outfit, really anything that is visible. I did mess with that a little bit but there wasn’t a whole lot unlocked during the beta. This is something that I know for sure people will spend hours messing with and they are going to love it. However, as I played through the maps I realized something dreadful about Trials Rising, something insidious that is seeping into every damn game these days…
Finally, there are LOOT BOXES! The all caps are not out of excitement but horror, these things are just awful and need to die. Burn them with fire! As soon as these damn things started popping up I knew this sadly was a game that I am going to have to avoid like the plague. I have been fighting pre-orders for years and today I stand to fight these damn loot boxes. Any game that has them I avoid, which makes me super sad because it killed Battlefield, Mass Effect, and now Trials for me. All games that I once loved have been ruined by these awful things. Yes I know they are only cosmetic, so far, but it’s just a slippery slope (I know that argument is terrible). This happened with the rise of pre-orders, no one believed me that this just empowered big companies to put out unfinished games. For a while it didn’t happen but then all of the sudden there were games like PUBG, Mass Effect Andromeda, and most famously Assassins Creed Unity. Luckily, due to all the backlash, most of this has died off but now we are at the edge of another big issue and people need to vote with their dollars. I know, I know this has turned into a self-righteous rant but it’s true.
Trials Rising has the chance to be a blast but just as much of a chance of being a disaster. Not due to bad gameplay but for building much of the interface around loot boxes. The multiplayer, so far, is promising and the tandem bike is a hilarious disaster. Bike and character customization is fun, it’s something my wife will spend time on and a thing that I could care less about (in a game like this anyway). Getting back to the real world is, I believe, the right move and the level design is fun. I hope that Trials Rising comes to the light and removes the loot boxes, it’s my only major gripe.