You couldn't have a video game going under the Steep moniker and not have the terrain to match. So while the Steep Beta testing has been up and running this weekend, we've been out seeking some of the steepest lines that are rideable on a snowboard...
Above you'll see some of the fruits of our labour so far - largely shots of us desperately trying to hold a line while gapping massive drops without succumbing to the lower limits of the G-Force health bar, but with a few more traditional couloirs, and the odd Ultra Natural hit thrown in; and below is a bit more information on how Ubisoft Annecy have gone about crafting this creative landscape...
As the Beta testing only opens up a fraction of the map (which already encompasses three vast Alpine regions), we thought it best to ask Creative Director Igor Manceau about his favourite terrain, to find out what we should look out for in the full game when it drops next month:
"There are many places in the game that I really like, but there is one specifically in the Mont Blanc region that’s great. The reason that I like it is because of the variety that it offers.
"The area is huge, something like 256 km squared, so quite big, but we still wanted to get the best of the European Alps..."
"Its tough to describe it to you - but you start pretty much at the top of it, in huge big powder fields, and then you meet some small rocky zones, but nothing too intense, before you end up in a rocky corridor that gets steeper and steeper. And after that it’s actually open on a place where you've got rocks/ice blocks and then moving on to forests and then the lake.
It's quite a long line, and on the way you really get a variety of emotions from riding and enjoying playing - so I'd say that that is my favourite."
Unfortunately with the Mont Blanc region remaining visible but locked in the Beta, we won't get a chance to try out Igor's favourite until the 2nd of December, but with Aravis, Tyrol and Aiguille already tested, we can say that the game's makers have done an excellent job of imitating mountainous terrain.
The eagle-eyed among you may notice that although there are some famous real-life spots in place, the geography isn't exactly perfectly accurate. As Igor explains, the game makers had to make some adjustments for a better playing experience...
"So the terrain is all inspired by the actual mountains - of course at first we looked at some famous places and we tried to reproduce them, and we could have gone for GPS data and replicated the mountain the way they actually are.
We had access to that data with the precision that we would need, which is precise to about 50cm, but we didn't quite go that way because on the real mountain not everything is something that you can ride - and we wanted to maximise the size of the actual playground for the player."
"For each region we tried to replicate the kind of mountain formation that you can find, even the way the rocks are eroded by weather or water flowing"
"That's why we decided to get our inspiration from the real stuff, but took some liberty with it too... and it's different in different areas, so in Tirol for example, everything is really close to real life, whereas the Aiguille is kind of the opposite.
Nonetheless, for each region we tried to replicate the kind of mountain formation that you can find, even the way the mountain and the rocks are eroded by weather or water flowing. We took into account the kind of rocks in those regions, how steep it is, and how it actually resists weathering and so on."
Its a thought process that has worked well in the game's favour too. As much as we enjoyed wingsuiting over jagged rock faces, there's an absolute tonne of steep terrain that you can (with practice) navigate on a snowboard too - and thanks to the games' discoverable 'Drop Zones', Paragliding thermal updrafts (or Heli-passes earned with in game credit, if you're lazy), it's all pretty much accessible...
As Igor explains, this took some clever tweaking too:
"The area is huge, it's something like 256 km squared, so quite big, but we wanted to get the best of the European Alps. So we know for sure that from Mont Blanc you don't see the Matterhorn, but still it was cool to get the two of them within the play zone - so that's really the way we worked."
Makes a lot of sense if you're asking us... Give the game a go for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments.
Catch more from Igor on the making of Steep here.
Look out for Steep on PS4/Xbox One and PC, out 02/12/2016.