Skater XL is one of the many new contenders aiming to revitalize the skating genre to its former glory. Is it able to pull off the victory or does it fail harder than my bails in the video footage?
Skater XL is a simulation skateboarding game focused on the more realistic aspects of the hobby that ditches pulling off ludicrous combos in favour of a more grounded approach. It is clearly more “Skate” than “Tony Hawk”, although being from a small studio it lacks the polish present in both. This does not mean the game is not fun, though.
Adopting a more realistic approach over an arcade one, you’ll often be setting up repeatedly to nail that perfect trick or that clean line instead of collecting secret tapes and such. Setting up is easy and addicting, since creating a spawn point and returning to it are done instantly in game. You can also teleport yourself around the map easily. The controls are extremely satisfying, albeit they do come with a fairly steep learning curve. This is because your feet are controlled 1:1 with the analog sticks – your right foot with the right stick, your left with the left stick. For many seasoned skateboarders in real life, this control scheme will feel intuitive and natural. For the less fortunate, it will take some time to adapt, but it shouldn’t be a huge roadblock for most.
Easy Day Studios is a small team, so don’t expect a AAA experience. The graphics appear a bit dated at times, and problems like frame drops, pop-in, falling through the floor, and other glitches happen fairly frequently. If these types of things typically bother you in your video games, I would consider waiting for a patch. For what it’s worth, although these issues are noticeable, they didn’t severely detract from the enjoyment of the game.
Unfortunately, where Skater XL comes up short is in its content department. At the time of review, there are only five developer created maps, and three user created ones from PC. The user created levels have been touched up by the team at Easy Day Studios, so the graphics are on par with the five main levels. These levels all vary in size, from tiny to sprawling (huge shout out to the Downtown Los Angeles map, it is gargantuan compared to the rest). Aside from developer created challenges, which basically amount to “Do X trick here”, there is no content to be found other than the fun you inevitably have creating lines yourself.
Further, when doing these challenges, you’ll learn that they don’t always have to be completed the way they intended you to. For example, in many tasks where you have to “ollie over X”, you can literally just perform an ollie on flat ground and it will count that as a pass. This needs to be patched immediately, as it majorly limits the only developer created challenges present in the entire game.
A little more content could have gone a long way in this. I get that a full story mode probably isn’t what Easy Day Studios wanted from their game, but, especially on consoles, Skater XL is in desperate need of content. Mods found on the PC version that allow you to create custom maps, play multiplayer, and more are not currently present on the console versions of the game, severely limiting its replay value. Currently, you have 8 maps of varying sizes with little in the way of objectives.
A video replay editor is also present in the game, for those of you who want to edit together some of your awesome lines. It’s nothing special but gets the job done for those who want to add a bit more flair to their virtual skating clips.
There really isn’t a lot else to say about Skater XL, unfortunately. The skating gameplay that is there is a solid foundation that I could see providing a base for a more substantial package down the road, but at the time of review, the content that is included simply does not warrant the price point. Even if you are a die-hard fan of skateboarding who is clamouring for the return of realistic skateboarding sims, I would still recommend you wait for a sale on console, or check it out on PC.