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Trials Rising Hands-On Preview – Flipping Out (PS4)

On an oddly rainy day in San Francisco, Ubisoft invited select media to come and spend a half-day playing RedLynx’s upcoming Trials Rising, the fifth official game in the series and the first since 2014’s Trials Fusion. So what exactly has the developer been up to in the nearly five-year timespan since their last entry? 

Familiar Tricks

For those familiar with the Trials series, not a whole lot has changed conceptually. Then again, how could it? There’s only so much variation you can muster up in a game that’s all about going forwards, backwards, and leaning/flipping. RedLynx seems to have focused on a handful of core things in Trials Rising: nailing level design, scaling challenge properly, allowing deep personalization, and providing a suite of creation tools. 

The levels have always been a big draw in any Trials game. Expertly crafted, often times there is so much going on that players will find new details in the background as they view replays or watch others complete levels. Past games even included cryptic messages that led to the discovery of an alternate-reality game which won’t even conclude (or at least move on to the next step) until the actual, real-life year of 2113, when the vast majority of us reading this article will likely be dead (yes, really). There is no hint of something that unexpectedly outlandish in Trials Rising, though of course that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of secrets to discover.

Levels played during the preview event included all the terrain you’d expect from around the globe, from the deserts of the American Southwest, to the secluded forests of the UK, and even Mount Everest in the game’s hardest level to be revealed thus far. I’m sure there are QA members on RedLynx and/or Ubisoft Kiev who are sick and tired of the courses shown due to countless run-throughs and tests. To them, we say thank you for ironing out the kinks of some of the more difficult sections. 

Slow Down and Learn

Observed trials, the sport upon which the Trials series is loosely based, is a niche one. It’s also technically demanding, and a great challenge to even seasoned motocross athletes. So it comes as no surprise that the Trials franchise is also known for being quite a challenge. New players may feel a bit overwhelmed with how quickly the challenge can ramp up, if they don’t know what they’re doing. (Editor’s note: Hell, even experienced players can feel overwhelmed with how quickly the challenge can ramp up!) To that end, RedLynx has increased their use of tutorials.

Instructional videos will now play during tutorial levels, to demonstrate concepts beginning with the basics of throttle and brake control, and including more advanced topics such as stoppies, wheelies, and other strategies to decrease course times, or simply increase survival rate. Each video is followed by a runthrough by the player, and upon completion the player is graded on their adherence to the tutorial. This helps to ensure players are not only completing courses, but completing them properly and applying the principles as they are taught. This system did appear to allow players to simply rush through each lesson, so for those more seasoned players, the tutorial will not hold them back from getting to the meat of the campaign. 

Trials Rising hands-on preview

Customization is another area that has been ramped up in Trials Rising. Bikes and rider outfits can be customized with different materials and paint colors. But hundreds (perhaps thousands) of stickers can also be collected via loot boxes. That’s right, loot boxes have even entered the Trials franchise (even as they are leaving Fortnite). Any time a player levels up by completing events, they are automatically granted a loot box with random items inside. If the player doesn’t like what’s inside, they can spend some currency to re-roll the box.

In-game money can be used alongside a premium currency dubbed Acorns to unlock specific items from an in-game marketplace, as well. Most of these will be user creations after the game launches, and prices will vary based upon the rarity of the base item that it was built upon. While we were only shown a small sampling of the items to be offered, considering the editor allows for 200 layers to be applied per item, there is little doubt tons of unique items will be offered by the community in no time.

Make Anything You Want

Impressive level editors can help give most games a second life—LittleBigPlanet is a great example of this. Someone built a small-scale, but still functional, Minecraft clone in Trials Fusion, for instance. These sorts of levels are more done to prove that they can be done, rather than to replicate the full thing. But a robust level editor does help to ensure that a dedicated player base continues to pump out content for the game well after launch. Not too many details on enhancements were given at the preview event, however if even level capacity has simply been increased, then this is only good news for fans, as more elaborate levels can be constructed. 

Multiplayer is a good fit for Trials Rising, and we got to see it in action at the event. Asynchronous multiplayer allows for players to race against one another at any time, with the use of ghosts. Realtime multiplayer was also sampled, whereby players attempt to complete courses ahead of everyone else. No players can affect others’ worlds, although seeing a ghost fly up when your own world isn’t launching anything can be a little disorienting at first.

Trials Rising hands-on Tandem

Beyond online multiplayer options, there is also a new and fun same-screen multiplayer experience: tandem bikes! One player controls the throttle and brakes, while the other controls the lean of the bike. The result is a whole new ballgame, and this mode was a source of many laughs even during our short preview.  

Trials Rising is shaping up to be Trials as you know and perhaps love it. The addition of a tandem bike may likely destroy some friendships, but the hilarious replays will be worth the frantic screaming and flailing of both players. Meanwhile, a track editor that is improved even slightly from the impressive version that launched in Trials Fusion should provide countless hours of additional gameplay. The long, nearly five-year wait for a new entry appears to have been worth it for fans, while the inclusion of actual proper tutorials will encourage players who are new to the franchise or genre to give it a shot. Trials Rising is currently balancing for launch on February 26, 2019 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC. 

Trials Rising hands-on preview event put on by Ubisoft. Travel and accommodations were provided by Ubisoft.