Ubisoft RedLynx’s Trials series has long been a favorite franchise for players looking to experience a deft mixture of zany, over-the-top motorcycle trial racing and lavish, elaborately designed set pieces. Thankfully, Trials Rising continues this tradition with aplomb, by offering some of the most gorgeous and challenging 2.5D tracks to date, and by providing a deceptively simple set of physics-based controls that are easy to grasp, but difficult to master. Truly, based on everything that Trials Rising serves up, whether it be the smooth and addictive gameplay that will have players constantly telling themselves “just one one more try”, or even the new, albeit clunky experimentation with customization and loot boxes, the game is obviously a labor of love, and it shows.
From the get-go, Trials Rising proves itself to be a game that basically anyone can pick up and play, as it slowly reveals more of itself over time so as to not overwhelm potential newcomers. Thanks to its deliberate pacing, players are constantly learning newer, more efficient ways to ride without being forced to encounter some of the more seemingly impossible tracks and obstacle courses right up front. Ubisoft RedLynx eases players in by starting with a set of Beginner tracks before ramping up the difficulty to Easy, then Medium, then Hard, and then Extreme. Supplementing the game’s learning curve is a generally solid tutorial system led by Professor FatShady at University of Trials, who guides players through various practice courses that cover the likes of throttle control, leaning, mid-air rotation, and more. Leveling up unlocks more trying tutorials on lessons such as dealing with uphill obstacles, pulling off consecutive bunny hops, and working on rear wheel bounce.
The meat of Trials Rising can be found in its huge amount of levels – upwards of 100, in fact – set in different spots around the globe. There are track locations in the US, Europe, China, and Russia just to name a few, and each has its own distinctive design style and layout to test a player’s abilities. Save for a few stuttering issues that can arise from the more intricate and ambitiously designed levels, the visuals are top-notch, and many courses intentionally make it hard to pay attention to the player character due to the beautiful details and dizzying array of action going on in the background. For instance, one track called “Lights, Camera, Action!” has players racing through a Hollywood soundstage that eventually leads to two giant crustacean monsters that appear to be distant cousins to Gears of War‘s Corpser shooting energy beams from laser cannons mounted to their heads. Suffice it to say, it’s moments like these that make it tough to not just want to stop and take in the scenery sometimes.
What’s more is that the soundtrack for Trials Rising contains a decent selection of great licensed tunes including songs from hip-hop artists like Jurassic 5, punk rock bands such as The Bouncing Souls, and even heavy metal outfits like In Flames. However, the high replayability of the game itself can occasionally cause these songs to become repetitive and overplayed. So, in case that occurs, players can always tackle races with the music off or with their own Spotify playlists on-hand should they choose to do so.
The levels in Trials Rising are divided across nine main leagues, with most of the leagues containing around eight tracks in total. New leagues become available upon beating the previous one’s Stadium Finals, which is often a fun and stimulating series of three shorter, multi-lane races. Overall, the levels typically range from simple races which require players to beat a given track within a specific amount of time to Contracts that set completion stipulations such as not being able to go over a certain number of crashes.
Similar to Trials Fusion‘s Challenges, Rising‘s Contracts also contain variables in the way of goals, like charging players with nailing a required number of tricks like front flips and back flips, or pulling off a wheelie for a given length before the completion of a course. The more one levels up and progresses, the more sponsors become unlocked, with brands like Fox, KTM, and RedLynx doling out cosmetic items in the way of customization stickers, as well as XP incentives of differing degrees that push players to finish their sets of challenges. It must be stressed, though, that while Rising‘s tracks and courses start off easy enough, beating levels gets extremely hard once players start to reach the late game phase. This, of course, is to be expected of a title from the racing series, and it will surely please the more hardcore Trials fans out there.
One motorbike is available at first, but more become unlocked as players continue to level up throughout the course of the game. There are six bikes, and each one has its own handling style and contrasting features that causes it to stand out from the others. Trials Rising starts players out with the Squid–an all-purpose motorbike with a good balance for its handling and speed. The Rhino becomes unlocked pretty soon thereafter, and it caters to those who want more control and power instead of acceleration. Meanwhile, the Mantis is available later on, and it moves fluidly, but is harder to control. Then there’s the Helium and the Donkey, both of which can be bought with in-game currency. Finally, the Tandem is a bike that a player and their friend can try to control simultaneously, and playing with it is just about as silly as one would imagine. Also, while each track can be played through with any of the aforementioned bikes, Trials Rising does a good job of recommending which one would be best suited for the task at hand.
Should one want to take a break from completing levels in a straightforward manner, Trials Rising also has a bunch of fun mini-games under the banner of the Skill Game Festival. For example, one that’s initially available is called Bomb Bouncer, and players are tasked with bailing from their bike to hit explosive barrels that send them flying down a dirt track in an hilarious slapstick effect, as their body flails through the air with rag doll physics. The farther one goes in this instance, the closer they are to achieving a more successful run. Akin to the regular stages, more Skill Game Festival events become unlocked upon reaching a certain level, with there being one that has players riding on a flaming bike that explodes if they go too slow, and another having them try to stay on a rotating platform for as long as possible.
Also outside of Trials Rising‘s main portion is Ubisoft RedLynx’s inclusion of a magnificently robust and powerful level editor. Should the game itself not offer players difficult-enough courses, one can conceivably create the most incredibly complex level capable of being dreamed up. The only drawback to the level editor is that it’s not particularly accessible to novices, so it will definitely demand a lot of time and patience for newbies to get the hang of it. Fortunately enough, more skilled users will undoubtedly be able to conjure up a bevy of brutal and wacky tracks to keep the game flush with extra content.
While Trials Rising more often than not provides players with fantastic gameplay and high levels of replayability, one glaring misstep is found in the game’s custom character creation and loot box mechanics. Although it’s a simple pleasure at first to turn one’s character blue, tweak a bike’s look, and deck them both out in a bunch of goofy stickers and accessories, unlocking and using the items from “gear crates”–that is, Rising‘s take on loot boxes–becomes tedious over time. It must be noted, though, that absolutely none of the items acquired through gear crates affect gameplay, so players can completely ignore them if they want.
By and large, Trials Rising doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it maintains a high level of quality with the vast majority of its content by fine-tuning the series’ strengths with a bevy of well-designed tracks, tight controls, physics-focused gameplay, and its offbeat sense of humor. Should players never even get around to trying out the online multiplayer, local co-op, or level editor, Trials Rising is densely packed with enough features to keep their palms glued to the handlebars for the foreseeable future.
Trials Rising releases on February 26, 2019 for PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided with a PS4 code for this review.