Skater XL will make you forget that there's no Skate 4

We got some hands-on time with a work-in-progress build of the Xbox One version of Skater XL. Does it have a shot to bring back the skateboard sim genre? Our preview.

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It’s been a long time since Tony Hawk introduced the world of indoor kids to the magical world of skateboarding with his titular Pro Skater video games. While the series slowly spun into mediocrity (remember Downhill Jam?) hope rose for a new era of digital street boarding in the form of EA’s Skate series. However, Skate was more of a sim where THPS had been an over-the-top arcade experience and had a much steeper learning curve. Now, all these years later, a new golden era of skateboarding games could be on the horizon thanks to the devs at Easy Day Studios and their game Skater XL. I recently got a chance to go hands-on with a build of the upcoming Xbox One version during PAX West.

Do a kickflip!
Do a kickflip!

The analog control mechanics of Skater XL definitely take their cue from the Skate series. Players will push off with the press of a button and use the left and right sticks to control the corresponding foot when doing tricks. The tricks themselves are rooted in reality and nothing cartoonish but it does feel satisfying to pull off even the simplest of introductory tricks, like a kickflip or a manual. But where Skater XL really begins to make itself accessible in its more forgiving physics. The game feels somewhere between THPS and Skate thanks to the ability to get big air and do some crazy transitions while still maintaining a need for skill and technique.

Skater XL’s levels are inspired heavily by the Southern California skate scene and will feature several iconic spots that should be familiar to fans of the scene. I was told by one of the devs that some San Francisco landmarks would be in the final version along with a few other noteworthy spots as well. While I personally don’t have the balance to ride a skateboard, let alone do tricks in real life, I was immediately hooked and spent a lot of time respawning at my moveable checkpoint and perfecting my trick run.

While Skater XL isn’t actually the next Skate 4 or Tony Hawk, it does initially strike me as a love letter to both titles and the skater scene in general. I think it’s got a good shot at filling a hole that’s been left by it predecessors, but I’ll have to wait until there’s a full release to declare it the heir to either series’ throne. Skater XL is already in early access on Steam and will be coming to the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch in 2020.

Reviews Editor

Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, www.cartoonviolencemusic.com. If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 9, 2019 7:00 AM

    Blake Morse posted a new article, Skater XL will make you forget that there's no Skate 4

    • reply
      September 9, 2019 8:19 AM

      Nice!! Can't wait for the Switch version. EA is so dumb for not porting the Skate games.

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      September 9, 2019 8:25 AM

      Can you reach out to the devs and ask them when they're going to update the early access version on steam with the newer stuff in these builds they've been showing to press and certain fans?

      They've not done anything of note worth EA since it first launched back in December. It's basically in the same busted tech demo state it was back then and it sucks.

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      September 10, 2019 12:36 AM

      Based on the status of their early access program on steam for the last... years(?) all I can say to this is "lol, I'll believe it when I see it"

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