Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: Easy Day Studios
Developer: Easy Day Studios
Medium: Blu-ray / Digital
Skater XL from developer Easy Day Studios recently saw it?s full release on Xbox One, PS4, and PC after a decent Early Access period that garnered the attention of skateboarding fans hungry for a possible replacement to EA?s dormant Skate series. Personally I had not played Skater XL prior to launch but had a rough idea of what the game was attempting to do, and by and large, I think Easy Day Studio?s nailed their approach.
Abandoning the idea of a dedicated button combo system for tricks programmed into the game, Easy Day Studios instead took the approach of a physics-based skateboarding experience, giving players direct control over both of the feet of the onscreen avatar in order to affect the board?s placement, movement, and so on. It?s a pretty unique system overall that does take some getting used to, but as you adapt to the controls you can certainly see the appeal and a sense of accomplishment in being able to pull off a series of tricks or grinds even in short runs.
This is very much a find your own fun type of experience though, and while priced at $39.99, it does feel a little light on content out of the gate. PC players will have access to an already growing mod community but for console players, you?ll at least need to be aware of a somewhat small number of maps going in, with the hopes that additional content will roll out gradually. At the onset of the release, there are 5 maps available with a few community maps included. Each map has a series of objectives that end up working more as a tutorial, teaching you grinds, grabs, and other tricks across each map. The objectives are a great way of learning the overall mechanics of the control system though, and helpfully show you each trick played out before each try, making it easy enough to learn.
Probably the biggest appeal in Skater XL comes from the ability to create your own videos to show off your skateboarding skills, and even in the early days of the full launch, there?s already some stellar work being done by the community with the tools available. I will say I?d have loved to see a dedicated tutorial for the video editing tools built into the game, similar in fashion to the way the trick tutorials work. It?s not that hard to suss out the process, especially if you have any experience with similar features in other games, but it?d be nice to see something that could help generate ideas and get new players started.
The map designs in Skater XL offer up a lot of opportunities though, so you?ll have little trouble mapping out some interesting locations to film in-game. The Big Ramp map is certainly a favorite of mine, but even the city and school-based locations have interesting layouts with plenty of gaps, rails, and ramps to run through. I also enjoyed the soundtrack selection in Skater XL, which nails the overall chill vibe that the game exudes. It?s a pretty calm experience and something that I think a lot of people can appreciate right now.
I definitely think Skater XL is worth checking out, more so on the PC for the mod side of things than the console version at the moment. But if you?re not opposed to challenging yourself and seeking out your own fun with a responsive, unique physics-based control system, then I think you?ll still get some enjoyment with the current release of the game. Ideally, future updates will flesh out the experience even more, and based on the early access process prior to release, it does seem as if developer Easy Day Studios is committed to Skater XL for the long haul.
Note: Easy Day Studios provided us with a Skater XL code for review purposes.