Where has the time gone? It’s hard to believe that nearly five years have passed since 2014’s release of Trials Fusion. Yet here we are, and RedLynx and Ubisoft Kiev have graced us with more of their side-scrolling Trials franchise. Is Trials Rising the definitive game in a long-running series of arcade racing titles? Or did the series reach its peak with Trials Fusion? Find out in our Trials Rising PS4 review.
Point A to Point B
In case you’ve somehow never played a Trials game, the concept is simple: ride a motorcycle from start to finish of a level, as quickly as you can. The action takes place in a 2.5D perspective, whereby the environment and characters are all rendered in 3D, but your movement is limited to forwards, backwards, up and down – you cannot turn the motorcycle, however you can rotate to perform flips or adjust your angle as you land. The controls are tight, and Trials Rising mostly stays out of your way, such that your failures (and they will be many!) are usually your own damn fault. Some tracks may cause you to crash dozens of times, before you finally get a good rhythm going and complete it. The feeling of elation that you achieve when this happens is hard to duplicate in other games. For those who can’t quite get it, there’s a full set of tutorials by Professor FatShady—a YouTuber popular in the Trials community—to help you learn the ropes and understand even more advanced concepts such as the bunny hop.
Where things get interesting is in the level design of Trials Rising. Whereas Trials Fusion focused on a futuristic setting, Rising takes players on a globetrotting adventure around the world. Starting out in North America, courses get progressively harder in each league. Famous locations such as Hollywood, the Great Wall of China, Mount Everest, and more are all represented with a stylized version of the location. Some levels even get perspective shifts, whereby the camera points straight-on at the action, as opposed to the usual isometric viewpoint, and then reverts back again. This is only considering the numerous levels the game ships with – there’s going to be a whole world of user-generated content (UGC) for players to explore before long.
Make Whatever You Desire
A full-blown level editor is available for players to make whatever sort of level they can come up with. These can be basic point-to-point tracks using a handful of pre-built game assets, or sprawling levels that span much bigger areas. Considering first-person shooters and even a rudimentary Minecraft clone was created with this editor some five years ago, it’s hard to imagine what crazy creations we will write about as the game lies in the public’s hands for some time. All levels come with their own leaderboards built in, which includes ghost data to play against as well.
Trials looks better than it ever has in Trials Rising. While HDR isn’t supported, the assets do look great in 4K (if you’ve got a PS4 Pro to support the resolution). The engine running things appears to target 60 frames per second, and on the PS4 Pro at least, appears to hit that a vast majority of the time. An occasional stutter kicks in as races with multiple opponents load up, and if a particularly explosive or effects-laden section of a course gets triggered, the game will also stutter for a few moments. These are rare instances, but are noticeable and reliably occur only the first time the effects are fired off when a level is played – restarting the level without loading others first does not present the same issue, and the effect or sequence plays subsequently without issue.
The soundtrack in Trials Rising is a hard-bumping infusion of rock, rap, hip-hop, metal, and EDM, mixed with the occasional track to suit the location. Each bike has a different sound, as well. Characters occasionally shout as they get airborne, and even spectator NPCs hoot as you ride past them. It’s all befitting an arcade racer, and will have some players bobbing their head as they flip over courses.
Odd and rare stuttering aside, there is nothing to fault Trials Rising with. Gone are the other unbalanced vehicles, with only two-wheelers at the player’s disposal. Gameplay is somehow more down-to-earth than Trials Fusion, and yet still outlandish as you’ll find yourself doing flips in all sorts of strange or hilarious locations. The focus is on enjoyable riding, and Trials Rising has mastered the trial bike look and feel. There’s a physicality to the bikes that is hard to describe, but being able to string together a series of jumps, flips, and stops can really bring players into the zone of a trial biker.
Customization is a huge part of Trials Rising. Every time a player levels up by earning enough fame (in-game experience points), they earn a gear crate. These contain three items of varying rarity, from common to legendary. Items can be stickers, new parts for bikes, or clothing for the player’s character. Most clothing and parts can be decorated with stickers, to create a look that is as unique as the player. Up to 200 stickers can be placed on a single item out of over 2,000 total, and even the thumbnail of the item is updated as stickers are added or removed. These customized items can even be sold in the in-game store, for in-game currency, which can then be used to purchased other in-game items. There is also a premium currency called Acorns, but they can only be used to purchase premium cosmetic items. No gameplay advantages can be purchased in Trials Rising.
Challenges are set to launch when the game does (i.e. most likely as you’re reading this review), and will present their own set of rewards for those who take them on. Players will be given three chances to defeat three different online opponents on a course. Doing so will bestow upon them a special crate, which has higher-tier loot. This should make for some friendly competition. There are also multiplayer matches for up to eight players. No players can affect the track of another, though that would have been an interesting mechanic. Nonetheless, this means that whether you win or lose the course is all up to your own skills. Custom matches can also be set up offline for up to four players, with a gambling aspect whereby the loser must perform some real-life action, such as dancing or buying someone pizza. It’s a fun social aspect that many will get a laugh out of. Local multiplayer is called “shared screen,” whereby the camera followed the lead bike. Others who fall too far behind or crash must wait until a checkpoint is crossed, at which point they will respawn. It’s a fun mode that anyone can get into.
A Bicycle Built for Laughs
The new tandem mode is as funny as you would imagine. Two players are put on the same bike, an elongated motorcycle, and tasked with completing a course. One player controls only the throttle and brakes, while the other can only control the rotation of the bike. Both players can shift their weight, however, which adds another aspect to this. It’s hilarious trying to coordinate even the smallest obstacles at first, but eventually most pairs of players will come up with a system. Or they’ll end up as mortal enemies. Either way, Trials Rising’s tandem mode is chock-full of hilarity.
Trials Rising is pure, unadulterated, arcade fun at its finest. The mechanics are simple, and indeed anyone can play. But mastering the techniques to get ever faster times can take countless hours. The extreme levels will really test players’ resolve, but the payoff of finally finishing the Everest level, for instance, is worth the obstacle-filled journey. There’s so much content packed into Trials Rising, it’s hard to believe the game is launching at $24.99.
Trials Rising review code provided by the publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.