Trials has been one of those franchises recommended to me a few times but one I never really paid attention to. With the newest entry coming to Switch (which is great for the “one more try” style games), I decided to give it a shot. I’ve put in close to 50 hours across the Switch and Xbox One X versions of Trials rising since release so far and RedLynx’s physics racer experience is very good but has a few frustrations.
After an initial tutorial segment, you’re thrown into the world map where you get to access each level and also the University of Trials which is very useful. This map is sprinkled with various kinds of levels across different difficulties as you progress but it feels a little poorly thought out. Forza Horizon handles both this aspect and the customisation (which is another area Trials falters) a lot better. Level requirements range from finishing within a certain time to beating another racer and even finishing without too many faults. Thankfully, restarting a level is super fast and you will end up doing this often to improve your performance.
The customisation involves crates or loot boxes that you earn with each level. Some bikes are unlocked on reaching certain levels but the cosmetics are mostly not great. You’d think opening crates early on would get you more new stuff but across both Switch and Xbox, I ended up with duplicates as early as the second or third crate. The opening animation for crates is also very slow which made me not bother with them until I had about 8 or 10 to open one after the other.
Trials Rising’s visuals are a mixed bag. Even on Xbox One X, there is loads of popin and some low resolution textures. You’d think this stuff won’t matter much since you’re focussed on making sure you don’t crash and doing tricks but it is very noticeable in many of the levels. The levels themselves are mostly all very nicely designed and some of them look pretty gorgeous.
When it comes to the licensed music, there are loads of great tracks from Airbourne, Sum 41, and more. There are also some weak tracks that sort of dampen the experience. I wish there was a genre select for music. The sound effects are good overall but the mixing could use some work. Make sure you tweak the audio levels when you play to your liking.
Barring the customisation that feels like an afterthought in an otherwise great game, performance issues are annoying. The Xbox One X version has random frame drops or super short freezing in levels. This isn’t even consistent because some levels can go smooth for 2 or 3 attempts but the 4th one will have a freeze when you’re mid air doing a trick.
Barring the Xbox One X version, the Switch version is pretty competent. The biggest downgrade isn’t the framerate dropping to a target of 30fps versus 60fps on other consoles but the visuals. If you’ve not played Trials on any other console but the Switch, it might not seem like a big deal but in comparison to the Xbox One version, a lot of the environment is barren on Switch. Given the visual cutbacks, I was hoping the frame rate would be the same but that had to be cutback as well. I still enjoy playing Trials Rising on the Switch when portable but if you want to play it on TV, get it on another system for sure.
Overall, Trials Rising has nailed the core gameplay and even with the customisation feeling tacked on, it still is a fine experience overall. Hopefully Ubisoft can address the random stutter and freezing that happens on Xbox One X.