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Trials Review – Back In Track

Trials Rising is a game that kind of snuck up on me (probably because I was slogging my way through Anthem leading up to it) but it is also a game that I have been very eager to play. I’ve always had a fondness for the Trials game even though I’m fairly average at them. Trials Fusion was pretty rad (I went back and played it a bit more, loved the Awesomeness Level MAX DLC), and Rising improves on Fusion’s brilliance in a number of ways, but also falls short in a few aspects at the same time.

Trials Rising is the sixth mainline entry into the Trials series and sees the player travelling all over the world to complete obstacle course tracks and put Travis Pastrana to shame (this isn’t the actual plot, Mr Pastrami has no affiliation with this game). The player sees their character complete a number of increasingly perilous courses in the hopes of getting the best time with as little faults as possible. If you play this game for a plot, you’ll be sorely disappointed (there isn’t really one), Trials Rising is a game that focuses on gameplay and fun and nothing else. If the idea is crazy and ridiculous, you better believe there will be a way to implement it into Trials.

In terms of general gameplay, Trials is as good as it has always been. The controls are responsive and weighty and the game is still very much about relying on your reactions as a player. The physics are still on point and very rarely did I feel like I was robbed of a landing or a run in a track. For newer players, there is a tutorial and I would highly recommend going through it as they are perfectly placed to teach you techniques as you need them. Even as someone who has spent a fair while playing the game and has a firm grasp on the mechanics and techniques, I still found myself learning from the tutorials and improving as a player. YouTuber and Head of The University of Trials, Professor Fatshady, has done an impeccable job at writing and crafting tutorials that are not overbearing but are still incredibly helpful and informative. The best part about it is that they are non-intrusive. Newer players can access the University of Trials as they make their way through the different tracks on offer, whenever they feel stuck or feel like they might encounter something that they may not be ready for yet they can just head to the tutorials and see if there are any techniques that are yet to be taught.

Trials 2

Rising’s flashy new addition is the Tandem Bike. A bike created to answer the call for cooperative play in a Trials game. Players can have their friends locally play with them and try to conquer the various tracks of Trials Rising. Fear not, however, as the game will not allow you to attempt a track with the Tandem bike if it is impossible (or if a contract stipulates you need to beat an NPC). The two players on the Tandem bike need to communicate with each other to beat the various obstacles that the game throws at you. Even throttling the bike is a team effort, as one player can only put in about 60% of the speed (meaning when both players do it, it is 120%). There is really nothing to hate about the Tandem Bike, to be perfectly honest. If you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to. Players that do want the challenge of cooperatively making your way through most of the tracks have it there. It increases the replay value and it is by far my favourite addition to the game.

Trials Rising’s difficulty curve is a very, very smooth one. The game paces itself in a very user-friendly manner for the most part. You start with your easy beginner tracks and make your way to the extreme tracks. Where Rising differs from previous games is with contracts. These are like additional objectives or challenges to do within a given that track reward players with a number of things, including cosmetics and experience. While, in theory, these are excellent. In practice, they are a bit of an annoyance. While the contracts themselves do nothing wrong, the game’s design very quickly pivots you to a point where you are repeating tracks to complete new contracts in order to get enough experience to progress to the next chunk of tracks. The idea that a player has to repeatedly grind tracks, not out of will but out of necessity, is not a good one. Players should feel encouraged to complete these contracts, whether it be because of what they offer or because they find the challenge interesting, not because they cannot go any further without doing them. It’s a poor design choice that isn’t very cohesive to a smooth level of progression. It also gets in the way of people, like me, who want to get to the extreme tracks sooner rather than later.

Trials Rising features some insanely beautiful art and visuals. They’re not really pushing the boundary, but they’re great enough to make the game gorgeous. One of my favourite parts about Rising’s visual set is that they aren’t incredibly demanding, so even the Switch can run the game fairly well, all things considered. There isn’t really much else to say outside of the fact that Trials’ artists’ talents are pretty much all on display in Rising due to the fact that the level editor features all the assets from previous games as far back as Evolution (that’s a long time ago).

Trials 1

One of Trials Rising’s more notable changes is the shift in design to accommodate lootboxes and cosmetics, more so than Fusion (which had them added three months after release). While in essence, it’s okay, Trials Rising’s monetisation is a lot more aggressive and in-your-face than its predecessor. But we will get to that later. Trials Rising has a character/bike customiser similar to that of Forza Horizon 4’s, whereby you have the ability to change what your character is wearing and you can create custom paint jobs and designs for your bike through the use of decals and stickers. I really like this, as it is another avenue for the Trials players to express their creativity, something which they have done repeatedly for a very long time with the level editor. If you are someone who likes to express themselves through the customisation of your character and or/equipment, Trials Rising is great. However, you will need to spend quite a long time getting any of the decent cosmetics as the game’s lootboxes are generally filled with garbage, a tact that has no doubt been implemented to increase the allure of purchasing additional lootboxes or rerolling them with the in-game currency (but not the premium currency).

In addition to this, players can enter the market themselves and choose to purchase a variety of cosmetics, ranging from emotes for your character to stickers for your bike. These cosmetics can either be purchased by the in-game currency or with the premium currency called ‘Acorns’, and which currency you use is dependent on the item. Naturally, most of the really cool looking stuff is tied to Acorns, and some contracts can reward you with Acorns if you want to put in the time and not give in to the microtransactions (which I completely understand), but buying them with real-world cash is heavily incentivised by their relative rarity. I don’t agree with this practice, especially with how in-your-face it is, but the game doesn’t lose any value without it.

Trials 3

The track editor is by far one of the more notable features of a Trials game. I’ve never really been one for making a track, but I decided that I’d actually give it a go this time to truly feel how great it is. The Trials community has repeatedly outdone itself, creating some incredible tracks, challenges and even creating entire games within the track editor. One of the greatest parts about it is that the tools that that developers use to create tracks are also given to the players. The amount of items available to use when creating a track and the depth in which you can go into when creating a track is just astounding. Featuring the assets from a number of previous Trials games, the Track Editor within Trials Rising is easily the strongest form of the editor the series has ever seen.

I played Rising on the Nintendo Switch, which was a really cool and unique experience as it was a familiar Trials experience with the flexibility of Nintendo’s hybrid console. The game still calculates its physics at 60 frames per second, however, all of what you see is all rendered at 30 frames per second, something which was explained by Brad Hill (Professor Fatshady). It is something which has allowed the game to behave as similarly as possible, but it isn’t flawless. Through my entire time playing Rising on my Switch, I repeatedly encountered frame drops during a number of tracks, something which is not very good in a game that requires your precise and agile reflexes. I also encountered a few crashes, but they were quite infrequent. I can’t really speak for the other versions, but I can’t imagine the game being unstable on the other platforms.

Final Thoughts

Trials Rising is easily the best entry in the Trials series yet. Capturing what has always made Trials great with its addicting gameplay, gorgeous art, additions like the Tandem Bike and the vastly expanded track editor, the game does a great job at keeping things interesting and rewards the player for their perseverance and adaptability. Even the things like pace-breaking contracts, aggressive monetisation and slightly less-than-stellar performance (on the Switch) aren’t enough to overshadow everything that the game does right. I would highly recommend picking this game up.

Reviewed on Switch | Review code supplied by publisher

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