Riders Republic: Extreme open-world mayhem

Riders Republic scratches the itch left from extreme sports games of yore like Ubisoft’s Steep and EA’s SSX.

In fact, Riders Republic comes from developer Ubisoft Annecy, the same studio behind Steep so they share a lot of commonalities but whereas Steep focused on winter sports with snowboarding and extreme skiing, Riders Republic adds a variety of extreme sports to the mix, such as mountain biking and rocket backpacks, creating a world full of unbridled craziness and it’s the perfect pick-up-and-play for a little bit game.

Set in a sprawling American landscape full of snowy mountains, woodland trails and clear blue skies, Riders Republic drops you in an extreme sports paradise with a central hub area that acts as a base. The tutorial is close to an hour but stick with it as the game opens up once that is out of the way and you get much more freedom.

Like all open world games, you complete events to unlock more events and progress through the ranks and performing tricks and stunts earn more experience points which helps unlock more equipment and gear.

As a cycling fan, I tended to take part in a lot of biking events – both downhill mountain biking and road – and there are a lot of nice well-known brand mountain bikes to unlock (the vast majority from brands I’ll never afford) and the events are a lot of fun, although quite unforgiving at first as you get to grips with the trails and the control scheme, which proves a little unwieldy at times.

Probably the biggest draw card for Riders Republic, though, is once you’ve gained access to several sports and get to the real meat of the game, you can switch disciples on the fly.

It works like this: You’re bombing it down down a mountain trail on your mountain bike. You back flip off a cliff face – then mid-free fall bring up the sports menu, select the rocket pack then bammo, roar off through a nearby canyon.

That’s where the real fun in Riders Republic lies and it’s seamless (the game also has a rewind function that will let you correct mistakes as you an see from the video below after I initially crashed into the ground while trying to transition from jet pack to mountain bike).

Being able to change disciplines instantly brings a new dimension to the game and it means you can mix up the game play, keeping things fresh. You can also race around a track riding an ice cream bike as well, if you like!

There are also things called mass events where the online avatars of other players all take part in one event and I can’t say I am a fan. I’d describe them as chaotic and messy. It’s you and the avatars of 63 other competitors (think ghosts rather than real-life people) battling it out for position as you compete a variety of disciplines.

I got frustrated most times I took part in a mass event as my rider was jostled and bumped from the middle of the pack to the end because there were just so many participants in such a tight space. I really didn’t have a lot of fun with them so generally stuck to the solo play

Look, Riders Republic isn’t perfect but it’s sure to scratch that itch for those extreme sports fans looking for something to fill the void left by Steep and SSX.

Lazer Coyote helmet review

This product review is something of a departure for the blog so hear me out.

Up until now, this blog has been a catalogue of video game and hardware thoughts and reviews but I’ve decided to expand on the usual theme every once and a while and write about one of my other passions: Mountain biking.

Now, I’m not as good as I think I am at mountain biking and I’ve only really being doing it for the past five years after what seems a lifetime of road bike riding, but for me, it’s quite a stress release to get out on two wheels and hit some dirt trails after a mentally exhausting week in the office. For me, there’s nothing quite like zipping through forested tracks to bring a little calm to things.

So, every now and then, I’ll post about mountain bike-related things: It might be a new piece of clothing or a new piece of kit for my bike but it’ll mix up the gaming and tech content, hopefully broadening the appeal of the blog. First up is a new helmet that I got last Christmas: Lazer’s LZB-23 Coyote MIPS helmet.

Lazer was founded in Belgium in 1919 and note, this blog post isn’t sponsored by Lazer or a local bike shop: This is me, an average bike rider, doing a review of a helmet I own and I have found a great product.

MIPS and the technology behind it

MIPS – or multi-directional impact protection system – is protection built into the helmet that helps reduce rotational forces that can occur during certain impacts. Essentially, there’s a layer of protection inside the helmet that is designed to mimic the brain’s own protection system that will reduce the strain of rotational forces, thus lessening the risk and severity of brain injury if you have a crash.

The good thing about MIPS is that a MIPS-equipped helmet looks almost identical to a non-MIPS-equipped helmet except for when you look inside, there will a thin liner beneath the pads. The only indicator that the helmet is any different to one without MIPS is that some brands have a small yellow MIPS logo on there – or in the case of Lazer’s Coyote helmet lots of little MIPS logos dotted all over the liner.

Lazer’s Coyote helmet is MIPS equipped and the yellow dots on the inner liner confirm that.

My dear wife bought me the Coyote as a Christmas present (I don’t know what it cost her but it ranges at retail for around $NZ180) and it’s probably the best mountain biking helmet I’ve used since I picked up the sport. My previous helmet was a Giro Phase which I picked up during a well-know New Zealand outdoor pursuits retailer’s regular online sales. I’ve been a long-time Giro wearer – my current road bike helmet is a Giro – and the Phase is a good entry level helmet but it’s pretty much an entry level helmet that does the job and that’s it.

Before settling on the Coyote, I tried several helmets on, at several bike shops, over several weekends and eventually settled on the Coyote after chatting to the helpful staff at Evo Cycle’s in Christchurch. Helmets can be weird things: The fit and comfort is all dependent on the peculiarities of your nonce and I ended up with a medium (55-59cm) Coyote, tipping the scales at 370 grams.

What I like about the Coyote over my previous Phase is that back-of-the-head protection that the Coyote offers: It extends further down the back of my head, offering more protection. Like with all new helmets, it took me a couple of rides to adjust to the feel and added weight compared to the Phase which comes in a 342 grams but soon enough the Coyote felt comfortable on my head.

The Lazer Coyote offers more back-of-the-head protection than my Giro Phase helmet.

The Coyote’s chin strap is comfortable enough and as is the norm these days the helmet’s “tightness” on your head is adjusted by a ratchet know at the back: turn clockwise to tighten the internal liner, turn counter clockwise to loosen it. Simple enough.

The Coyote has 19 vents across the surface of the helmet – the widest being across the top and at the back – and not once have I suffered “hot helmet head” while out riding, even on hot days. The helmet has remained secure and and my head cool every time.

The Coyote has 19 vents across the surface of the helmet, ensuring plenty of air flows across your head.

Perhaps the only gripe that some riders might have with the Lazer Coyote is that the front visor isn’t detachable (as it is on the Giro Phase via two velcro dots). Personally, I haven’t had any vision issues with the fixed visor on the Coyote but then again, I’m not going 6000km/h down black trails at the Christchurch Adventure Park or advanced grade tracks where perhaps an adjustable visor might prove useful.

The front view of the Lazer Coyote (apologies for the glass: I needed to prop it up with something).

For me, Lazer’s Coyote is the best mountain biking helmet that I’ve used: It’s comfortable, offers excellent protection and is stylish, and I can see myself hitting the trails with it on my head for a long time to come. Luckily, I haven’t had to test out the MIPS protection – touch wood – in a real-world setting.

Long may that continue.

Do you want to see more mountain biking related content on the site? Let me know.

Lonely Mountains: Mountain biking, low-poly styles

No doubt I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a keen cyclist, both mountain and road, so when a Twitter friend (thanks @museste) let me know about Lonely Mountains, my interest was piqued.

Lonely Mountains describes itself as a “downhill mountain biking game for PC focusing on responsive and fun controls, an open level design and an untouched nature in a beautiful low poly style”.

I’m digging the art style and simplistic nature of Lonely Mountains, but apart from the trailer I don’t know much more about it, like how big will it be, how does progression through the game work and is there an online aspect .The game is being worked on my Berlin, Germany indie studio Megagon Industries founded in 2013. Two of the three-man team are working on Lonely Mountains, which is tentatively aiming for a 2018 release.

Lonely Mountains reminds me a lot of the game Trials HD, mainly because it’s a game where you ride a trials motorbike through a variety of courses, aiming to beat times and do tricks to earn points. Megagon says the game will feature custom bike physics, secret locations, tracks that you can ride from top to bottom without encountering a loading screen and open-world game play, meaning you can follow tracks or find your own way to the end point. All the screen shots show the game in a pre-Alpha state so there’s still a fair bit of work to go.

The developers say other potential features will include weather systems (snow, rain, wind), a dynamic day and night system, a replay & share system, and rider and bike customisation. As I said earlier, my interest is piqued and I’m going to follow the progress of Lonely Mountains closely.

Now, if I could only be as skilled on my mountain bike as the low-poly rider featured in the trailer …