It has long been known that 2020 is the year of the skateboarding game. Tony Hawk will soon be back with remastered and reworked versions of his classics, EA have teased that Skate is on the cards, and the highly intriguing Session has recently released via Xbox Game Preview, allowing the team at crea-ture Studios the chance to work with the fans to create a skateboarding masterpiece. But then there is also Skater XL, a game that has been in development for a good few years and previously pushed out via Early Access on Steam by the team behind it, Easy Day Studios.
We have recently been invited to spend some hands-off time with Skater XL, as Easy Day took us through the ins, the outs, the flips, and the tricks of how they are attempting to bring something slightly different to the experiences promised by Tony Hawk and Skate. And chances are if you’re down with the scene, or love spending time on a board nailing the latest tricks, Skater XL could well be for you.
Launching in full on Xbox One, PS4 and PC come July 28th, with a Nintendo Switch edition promised for later down the line, Skater XL tries a slightly different line from the usual skating options that are out there. Easy Day are focusing their time and efforts on creating a control scheme that is pretty unique, with no animation-driven tricks system in place, instead allowing the player to create what they want, when they want by combining thumbstick movements. You see, in Skater XL the left thumbstick will directly control your skater’s left foot, whilst the right will dictate what happens to the right. Flipping the stick, rolling it from point A to point B, or pushing it in a specific direction and combining it with the other stick will allow you to pull off all manner of delicacies, popping and shuvit-ing as you go.
This will see Skater XL play out like a musical instrument as the expressive control design lets you pick up and attempt things how you see fit. And should you fail, a quick whizz back to the same spot in order to try – and try – again is more than doable.
Those spots are a huge part of Skater XL too, with Easy Day drawing on many of the most iconic skating spots from around the globe. Five maps will be in place upon launch – three of which will be community-based efforts – with those that Easy Day include having been created and worked to deliver some epic grinding areas, flipping spaces and structures to trick off. These include the likes of the LA Car Wash, the Staple Centre and more. If you have ever watched a playlist of YouTube skate videos that cover the most famous spots from the scene, you can expect to see them in Skater XL, albeit with slight amendments to ensure that what you are playing is ultimately fun.
This is where the challenge of Skater XL comes to the fore too, with multiple tests thrown in. Whilst you’ll be free to find your own lines, pull off your own tricks and pretty much skate around doing what you want wherever, the opportunity to nail specific tricks at certain points in Challenges will ensure there is more than a reason to return for more. And when you include the opportunity to take your own character or to jump onto the board of some of the most famous pros – Tiago Lemos, Evan Smith, Tom Asta or Brandon Westgate are all confirmed for launch – again Skater XL looks set to deliver.
In fact, this is certainly gearing up to be a skateboarding title by skaters, for skaters, running a slightly different avenue to what Tony Hawk and Skate will look to provide. Promising to be easy to pick up, but hard to ultimate master, again if you think of nothing more than hopping on a board and looking for a new line then this could well be the game to provide it.
Away from the tricks though, Skater XL is going big in terms of the gear included. As we all know, skate culture is massive, and whether it be in terms of new decks, new trucks, new grip tapes options or new clothing styles, there are all manner thrown in here. We’ll be seeing the biggest of brands included, with DC Shoes, Enjoi, Element and more all having their most famous bits of clothing included from the get-go. And then if you’re on PC the modding scene looks to take that on another step, with community created designs front and centre of the action. Easy Day have been clear that this is going to play a huge part in the success of Skater XL, and so it’ll be interesting how and when those additional designs worm their way into the base game, particularly that of the console version. Only time will tell how that works.
Whatever format you are looking to play Skater XL on though, one thing is for sure – the soundtrack is looking immense. For many, the whole vibe that was delivered back in the day with the original Tony Hawk titles ensures that one listen to any of the tunes from the classics will see great memories flooding back. I mean, can you listen to Superman from Goldfinger without fondly remembering the numerous flips, tricks and bails that accompanied that song?
With Skater XL we’ll be hearing a soundtrack that looks set to provide the same kind of pulsing, free-flowing gameplay. Whilst the full track listing is still to be confirmed, we do know that Band of Horses will be bringing their mid-tempo rock, Interpol will kick on the post-punk revival, Silversun Pickups and Cende will deliver some alternative rock and Modest Mouse will be dropping some volatile raw punk. Throw in The Shivas, Westkust, Kratos Himself and more, and you should find yourself being able to skate around with some of the best tunes flowing.
So, have Easy Day Studios pulled out the stops with Skater XL, and will it really be the rebirth of authentic skateboarding like promised? Only time will really tell how this fares against the bigger dogs as the weeks and months progress, but from our hands-off time with the game, chances are there will be more than just Tony Hawk and Skate keeping the skateboarding scene alive and kicking. I guess confirmation will only really occur as and when Skater XL releases on Xbox One, PS4 and PC on July 28th, and whether or not the modding community can see their magic replicated across all formats.
Huge thanks go out to Easy Day Studios for inviting us to their presentation and for allowing insight and question in regards to Skater XL. Keep an eye out for our full review of the game on Xbox One, and remember, if you’re looking for kicking on with some skateboarding, July 28th will allow it.