Trials Rising is a smaller but significant step towards improving a winning formula. If you're expecting more of the same old dirt bike action, you're in the right place. There's certainly nothing wrong with that because if the bike isn't broken, why fix it?
If you're completely unaware, Trials Rising is a physics puzzle game where you ride on ludicrously over-the-top tracks with a dirt bike. It's a mostly side-scrolling experience, with it being much more intimate and methodical than other racing games. Your job isn't just to make it to the finish line, but to do it in a strategic and cautious manner.
Like previous Trials games, manipulating the physics of your bike in Trials Rising is the key to success. Launching off of a ramp across a large gap at full speed has the exact results as it should. Finding the balance between accelerating and braking is the key to completing a course as fast as possible and with as few crashes as possible.
Trials Rising Preview: Ramp Up the Difficulty
The preview demo took me through a portion of the Trials Rising single-player campaign. The campaign has you traveling across the world to many different maps of increasing difficulty in order to raise your fame level. Sponsors are more central to the single-player campaign than ever before, playing a role in many of the levels you can race on.
Sponsors will offer you a contract before the start of each course, tasking you with completing specific objectives during the race. These objectives range from achieving a bronze medal to doing a certain number of flips. Successfully completing the contract will reward you with a currency that can be used in the improved customization store.
You can use your hard-earned cash to purchase outfits, poses, and so on to make your racer your own. Many of those items can even be customized to look a certain color, so you're always matching and looking fly when you faceplant in the dirt. I had the opportunity to faceplant in over half a dozen of the levels in the single-player campaign, and while my experience with the series is limited the easier levels worked well as a refresher.
This is a great starting point for anyone who wants to jump in for the first time. Trials Rising does a great job of teaching you everything you need to know about its gameplay without using lame tutorials. The puzzles and setpieces are designed in such a way that you can figure out the basics with ease. Though that doesn't mean Trials Rising isn't without its challenge; each level I played gradually grew more challenging until I reached the medium and hard levels, which were absolute doozies. The challenge was most interesting, though, when other players were involved.
Trials Rising Preview: Tandem is Glorious Mayhem
The developers assured me that the multiplayer features are even more robust than ever before, allowing you to automatically match up against another player of similar skill level in Challenger Mode. The most welcome new multiplayer mode was Tandem in which you and a co-op partner work in — ahem — tandem to complete a course.
No, I'm not talking about taking turns or racing at the same time in two different bikes. You literally control the exact same bike together at the exact same time. It is just as bizarre, wacky, and amazing as it sounds. Tandem was easily the most fun I had with Trials Rising, as myself and one of the developers played a level together.
I was controlling the front of the bike, while my partner was controlling the back. Weirdly enough, you both control acceleration and braking at the same time. Tandem requires you and your partner to communicate constantly for what to do next. If one player accelerates while the other is braking, you'll find yourselves getting nowhere real fast. Even then, it remains a hilarious adventure. My partner and I found ourselves constantly cracking up and smiling the entire time. Trials Rising's co-op is pure joy, and it's all but guaranteed to be one of the highlights of the package when the game releases next February.
Trials Rising doesn't reinvent the wheel at all, and that's totally fine. Everything from customization to multiplayer has been improved in some way. With the series making its first appearance on Switch and including a hilariously awesome co-op mode, this looks to be a great entry for both new and old fans alike.