Are you wondering what it would be like to go skateboarding and hit some ramps? But are you too afraid to just head out IRL? Then the logical step is normally buying an accurate simulator to just go ahead and try things. Well, that’s exactly what you will get here: Easy Day Studios released Skater XL, an accurate (for the most part) skate simulator that’s all about Skating, and less about gaming. But why would that make it better than EA Skate? Find out below!
What we liked!
- Sound and atmosphere: The whole skater image does come with this groovy idea of guys with big speakers, long hair, and baggy clothes. Well, I must inform you that that’s exactly what you will get. Once you spawn into the simulator, you are welcomed by a fitting song, that swaps from time to time, based on how long you spend in the simulator. Nothing special, but it’s better than having to find your own music on the background. After pressing the buttons in the options menu, you get to customize your baggy skater all the way! Custom shirt, other clothing, board, … the whole deal.
- Flow: During your time in the simulator, you will start to notice that Easy Day Studios focused on their own name: give you an easy day. All right, cheesy lines aside, the game does feel smooth. You get the option to set spawn points in the map, and with a single press of a button, you are teleported right back to that point, which allows you to try that one trick over and over, as fast as possible, without the issues that you would encounter IRL, like having to grab your board again, and then walking/climbing back to that spot.
- Tricks: In the game, you have the ability to go to a specific menu which I like to call “How to trick”. Skating is, besides a way of transport, about expressing yourself and doing certain tricks. One day I bought a different simulator, for FPV drones, which allowed me to try stuff in a realistic way, with my controller, without the risk of me breaking things. The downside there was that I had to manually google what tricks were out there and how to do them, in order to practice them on the simulator. Here, you have a full library that is neatly categorized, trick by trick, with a guide on how to perform the trick. You even get a controller on the screen that shows what buttons to press! The downside here is rather obvious though. You know how the trick goes, and the only way to implement this into real skating is to look how the skater holds his board / pulls his legs to do certain tricks and remembering that for your real skate lessons. Fun nonetheless though!
- Controls: In general, a short point, the controls just feel great. Maybe that could come from the part that they focussed on controller support, or because they have this excellent HUD element which is an Xbox controller that shows your keypresses the whole time, and advises you if you are doing tutorials. Or maybe it’s something else, but it just felt the way it should: Polished.
- Remote play: Something I usually don’t talk about, and only recently started to check out, but listen! Cloud gaming is more and more coming up, and not everyone has the cash to burn. But we all have an amazing pc or console. And someday, we just don’t want to game in our room in our chair. Nah, we just want to sit on the couch, on the toilet, and just play some games. Well, if you open up Steam, and install steam link while pairing your Xbox controller via Bluetooth to eighter your phone, or Apple tv (how I tested it), then you can just Jam and skate to your hearts consent on the couch on the big screen! Pair that with the amazing in music, and a good set of tv speakers/stereo, and time can fly!
- Graphics: I mean, the game just looks great. It supports full ultrawide, supports small screens for remote play, and supports the full resolution of my 4k tv. All whilst looking amazing and detailed. Nothing to complain here.
- Controller only: I am inclined to place this here, even though I can see how this would be a plus for some people, or even just completely normal. The game only allows a controller. That’s it, no mouse and keyboard. In my honest opinion, it’s normal. You can never simulate the smooth and omnidirectional things you do with a controller whilst using a mouse and keyboard. These days, simulators that focus on flying or driving, or in this case skating, tend to always require a controller. For your own interest, I highly advise an Xbox controller, since it just mixes insanely well with windows, but in the end, this is a personal preference. This also brings up the price for some people, but most of us have at least one controller laying around which (with some tweaking) can be used for this (yes, I’m looking at you PS3 controllers. Someone needs to make a better driver tool for these on pc…).
- The lack of achievements/progression: This “game” has no real achievement or progression tied to it. If you look at it from a simulator perspective, this would be completely normal, but this can be a huge let down for quite a few gamers I assume. The progression you get in this game is watching yourself improve trick by trick, and watching the replay of a whole list of tricks you did in tandem whilst descending on a ramp for example. And just having the ability to share that clip with friends and show them how good you are.
- Maps: The game could use a few more maps, since 5 maps, although big, can get stale after a while. Something that can be addressed. But you would have to be picky to actually complain here. Also, they could add some fillings to certain maps: some NPCs to hit in to, or birds on poles to attempt to skate into, just to see them fly away with fear, would be a neat addition to the game.
What we disliked
- The price: The game feels rather expensive at this point. 34 Euros for 5 maps and no progression system can be a turn off for most people, since it’s placed on Steam as a GAME and a simulator; whilst it is actually 95% Simulator, and 5% game. Add to this the price of a controller to use, and you have a pricy experience. Worthwhile for me, but you have been warned.
For a simulator, I HIGHLY recommend this game. Easy Day Studios just made a complete package that’s fun to play and mess around in. Even on the go, with the right settings and automatic PC waking, you can skate around on your phone (without your pc being on, this is not possible, but this counts for all steam link applications). If you are just looking to fill some time between queue timers of other games, and just jam out whilst riding your board, then Skate XL is just a perfect fit. Just be warned! Don’t try this at home without safety measurements! You won’t respawn if you actually face plant from 10 feet! That being said, solid game, great addition to my library.