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The best new addition to Trials Rising is the University of Trials

After playing Trials Rising’s first few tracks, which send you careening wildly down huge ramps, backflipping through the air and revving enthusiastically on an agile motorbike, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a high-thrills racing game. In fact, it’s as much a puzzle game as a racer, requiring careful, precise control of the throttle, your rider’s weight and your own temper to bunny-hop through tricksy obstacle courses without flipping the bike over or touching an explosive barrel.

The series took a different path in 2014 with Trials Fusion and a futuristic setting. Trials Fusion curbs the silliness of the franchise, apart from some occasional laser gunships and hover cars. I noted its “dull presentation” and “generic, neon-infused future” in my review. It’s a disappointing game.

It's a particular shame in the case of Trials Rising. Mechanically speaking, this is arguably the best Trials game ever. The core gameplay, of physics-based balancing and a palpable sense of speed while navigating a complex obstacle course, is as perfect as it's ever been. The tracks, set in locations around the world, are gorgeous, with incredible lighting and tons of background action offering a total feast for the eyes. Some courses mix things up with fun hooks like jump pads and perspective changes, creating visually engaging moments that also change up the gameplay. Plus, as has long been true, even the most disastrous runs are saved by the ridiculously brutal wipeouts, which see riders get thrown about in glorious ragdoll physics. Adding to this, pretty much every level ends with the rider getting wrecked in any number of hilarious ways.

The one thing a Trials Rising sequel needs to work is fun new courses, and RedLynx has nailed this. These tracks are wild both in terms of their themes and their obstacles. They are also jam packed with alternate routes that make the levels very replayable.

Every track in Trials Rising has at least one unexpected or outlandish moment. I’m chasing after a runaway train in one level. I ride through the middle of a demonic summoning ceremony in another. There doesn’t seem to be a consistent theme across the whole game, which makes every level a total surprise.

On PS4, Xbox and PC, Trials Rising looks breathtaking, but on Switch it is unfortunately unimpressive – fog and dust disguise the vistas, and drops in frame rate make precise racing difficult. The vertiginous views are a significant component of Trials’ thrill, so Switch players are missing out.

The best new addition to Trials Rising is the University of Trials. The gameplay of the Trials series is iconic (or perhaps infamous) for being the epitome of "easy to learn, difficult to master." Up until now, players with aspirations of greatness have had to peruse reddit or YouTube channels like Professor FatShady's University of Trials. In a wise and community-focused move, Professor FatShady himself has become part of the Trials canon, with University of Trials appearing as a strong series of advanced tutorials teaching players tough techniques like throttle control, bunny hopping, and scaling vertical walls.

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