Trials Rising review: No pain, no gain

Trials Rising is fun, challenging, and infuriating in the best possible way, but suffers from poor presentation on PC.

10

It would be easy to think that Trials Rising is all about crazy jumps and having casual fun, but at its heart it’s a multiplayer motorcycle platformer that will test the skill and will of those who dare push beyond their comfort zone. It is equal parts infuriating and rewarding in the best possible way and gives players a surprising number of tracks and modes to keep them busy. However, it isn’t without a few bumps in the road on the presentation side.

Dusting off the old bike

The default mode for Trials Rising is called Race and that’s where I began my journey. It’s a map of the entire globe with tracks from nine leagues unlocking as players progress. To do that, riders must complete courses in a league, then take on the Stadium Final. Should they come out of the three-part Stadium Final on top, a new league more difficult than the last will open.

While that may seem straightforward and boring, Trials Rising infuses multiplayer into all aspects of the game. Any time I started a new track I was faced with a ghost rider who was another person that had completed it before me, and I would quickly become obsessed with besting them. There were few things as satisfying in Trials Rising as seeing my name at the top of the leaderboards, but this never lasted. Soon after I’d take top spot, someone would come along and beat my time, then I’d be back on that same track trying to reach the top again. This was fun with random players, but Trials Rising also allows you to compete against friends. I can see absolute wars taking place between the Shacknews staff.

If the tracks in the nine leagues aren’t doing it for you, there’s also the Track Editor where players can build their own. The game also includes a Party Mode, Private Multiplayer, Global Multiplayer, and a co-op mode called Tandem that will see two friends share the same bike. If you know how hard Trials Rising can be riding a bike solo, imagine what it’s like with two players shifting their weight around.

Getting schooled on the track

As players work their way through the Race mode they’ll be introduced to University of Trials, an in-game tutorial that taught me the skills and concepts I’d need as I moved to new leagues and harder challenges. As the tracks ticked by, I began to realize that, without this resource, I would have stalled in the first few leagues. Like any good tutorial, it started with the basics and slowly upped the difficulty. Before too long, I was bunny hopping over large gaps, a seemingly impossible task a few hours earlier.

The lessons and courses slowly became more difficult, and soon I was spending upwards of 20 runs on a single track as I tried to complete a contract or earn a gold rating. That’s not bad, though, as I failed some of the University of Trials courses more than 100 times without ever getting the A+ I was after. Luckily, players can start any activity over or continue from the last checkpoint with the touch of a button.

By completing tracks and contracts players will also earn XP, climbing through the ranks and earning a loot box each time they level up. These Gear Crates come with various items to customize your avatar and motorcycle, and although you can buy them with real money, I never felt the need. Not only do you earn them quickly, there just wasn’t much there that appealed to me.

Luckily, leveling up serves more purpose than just getting bland cosmetics. As players level up, University of Trials will offer new courses, and every so often players will get a new motorcycle with characteristics that will not only help with future tracks, but also give them a reason to replay old ones. It’s almost not the same track when you visit it again on a new bike.

Covered in mud

Where Trials Rising falls off is with its presentation. While the tracks are all unique in appearance and boast expert level design, the visuals on PC felt dated. I’m not looking for realism, but I was disappointed to find low-quality textures and an overall lack of polish. Console players might not share that view, but it was noticeable in my experience.

That disappointment continued with most of the sound design. I was fine with the soundtrack, a wide mix of music from different genres. Some of it you’ll likely recognize and some you likely won’t. Like most sports games, the playlist gets old fast, so I turned it off several hours in. This just amplified the problems with the rest of the audio. While I get that the crowd would be sparse in some of the track locations, there wasn’t much more than the odd “Woohoo” as I caught some air. It generally felt quite empty, with the engine sounds from the motorcycles being the only passable part, screaming every time I’d hammer down the gas.

Rising to the occasion

Trials Rising hits all the right gameplay points for an experience that needs to balance entertainment with challenge. There’s a lot here for players to enjoy whether they want casual fun or a hardcore motorcycle platformer. While the audio and visual presentations of Trials Rising are lacking, the gameplay is fluid and rewarding. Players will experience unmatched frustration when they can’t hit a specific trick or skill, but that quickly gives way to pure joy and a sense of pride when an obstacle is bested. Trials Rising walks the line between challenging and fun, and it does so expertly.


This review is based on a game code provided by the game's publisher. Trials Rising will be available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Windows 10 on February 26.

Managing Editor

Bill, who is also known as Rumpo, is a lifelong gamer and Toronto Maple Leafs fan. He is known for his guide writing and, unsettlingly enough, enjoys grinding out in-depth collectible articles. Tweet him @RumpoPlays if you have a question or comment about one of his guides.

Review for
Trials Rising
7
Pros
  • Excellent tutorial that trains riders properly
  • Wide range of tracks that all feel unique
  • Sense of pride when overcoming a tough jump
  • Makes you want to beat your friends' best time
  • Track Editor will keep the game fresh for months
  • Replaying tracks is not only encouraged, but a must
Cons
  • Low-quality PC graphics look dated
  • Soundtrack gets old rather quickly
  • Sound design feels empty overall
  • Cosmetic items feel boring and bland
From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 25, 2019 3:30 AM

    Bill Lavoy posted a new article, Trials Rising review: No pain, no gain

    • reply
      February 25, 2019 9:41 AM

      How is the frame rate? Is it locked? I tried playing the beta on the Switch and stopped playing pretty quickly because of the poor frame rate.

      • reply
        February 25, 2019 10:06 AM

        You can toggle Vsync on and off in the PC video settings. I left mine on, which is normal for me. I was getting a solid 60fps on PC at 2560x1440.

    • reply
      February 25, 2019 9:51 AM

      So is there any “big air” like level from Fusion?

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        February 25, 2019 10:11 AM

        There are similar activities and challenges, yes.

        • reply
          February 25, 2019 12:10 PM

          No no I’m very specifically looking for a challenge where I need to go down a big ramp and bail as far as possible.

          Like exactly what bigair was in Fusion.

          • reply
            February 25, 2019 1:25 PM

            x-Rumpo-x ^^^^^^

          • reply
            February 25, 2019 11:33 PM

            I have not seen this, no. There are skill tests in the game (which is where I'd expect to find this), as well as challenges, but I've yet to find anything exactly like that particular challenge. That said, I may just not have unlocked it or seen it.