Mid 2000’s Avril Lavigne skate park memories aside, Skater XL first began in 2015 with the mobile game Skater, and then Skater gave birth to Skater XL, a Steam Early Access title originally released in December 2018, and now, a year and a half later, Skater XL is dropping in as a full game on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.
The year and a half of Steam Early Access allowed Easy Day Studios to focus on refining Skater XL’s core mechanic: the left foot/right foot control that we’ve seen in modern skate games, now translated from mobile touch screens to joysticks. The experience that Easy Day Studios have with the skateboarding genre really does show through, as Skater XL boasts authentic gameplay, which is heavily based around physics.
The controls do take some getting used to, as the board is mapped to the left and right analog sticks and responds accordingly. Swipe the right analog stick, and your right foot will spin the back of the board. Pull down on both analog sticks and both your feet will leave the board, popping an ollie.
This system will suit real life skaters and players who have only dreamt of mastering the sport, as this control system is extremely intuitive it is. Gone are the days of memorizing button combinations to pull off a trick, or having to pause the game to check a guide. In Skater XL, just think about what you want the board to do and replicate it with the analog sticks.
Skater XL also does a great job of balancing both realism and gameplay, as the controls are partnered with the realism of the environments. The new Downtown Los Angeles map, displaying iconic skate locations such as the Staples Center, One California Plaza, and the Downtown LA carwash are all present, albeit with some slight tweaks.
Easy Day Studios wanted to make sure that players had the chance to string multiple tricks together, something that can be hard to chain in the real world, so in the locations, benches have been moved around, added railings and done whatever necessary to change an outside area to a skate arena.
Although, and here comes the downside, even though the world has been wonderfully crafted – it is completely void of any life. No pedestrians or cars come along the roads, making it all seem a bit eerie.
On very first impressions, Skater XL does seem to be the skating game needed to revive the genre – at least until Session drops. Players that aren’t sure about the game need to go into the experience thinking this is more of a playground, than a story driven skater story.
For those who have played physics-based games before, strange collision issues are to be expected, during the opening hours of playing, there were a few strange clipping issues involving the board and the player’s feet.
Most people who are interested in Skater XL probably grew up with the Tony Hawk games before moving into the Skate series. Even in its current form, fans of both will find much to enjoy in Skater XL, as it clearly uses Skate 3 as a jumping point, so it would be sure to be a hit with all fans alike.
Skater XL is a game aimed towards gamers who are happy to make their own fun, but the lack of story and challenge could really put other players off. The physics engine really is an aspect to be admired as rightly so, it is Skater Xl’s main selling point.
- Attention to detail in environment
- Physics engine
- Intelligent control system
- No life in the world
- Lack of story
- Prone to clipping and glitches
- Graphics 0
- Gameplay 0
- Narrative 0
- Audio 0
- Technical 0