There’s something soothing about skiing on the open mountain, exploring off the beaten track and finding new areas; frozen rivers, lakes or just a set of trees to ski through – all this without having to leave my front door. That’s not to say that staying on one of SNOW’s many set slopes isn’t entertaining too. SNOW is an early access snow sports game by Poppermost Productions which they claim is “the only free-to-play, open world, winter sports game” ever.
Many roll their eyes at thought of yet another free-to-play, open-world, early access game and, like most of the others, SNOW does feel empty.
You’d think this should be a massive problem with the game, but unlike so many others SNOW’s emptiness is one of its greatest advantages. Why? The act of moving alone is enjoyable: gaining speed, jumping off cliffs, and landing tricks are among the game’s strongest moments.
SNOW gives the player options, go off-track and explore, ski from the top to the bottom or visit a snowpark to do flips, grinds, and tricks. SNOW has a level system in which points go towards leveling up – this feature isn’t fully fleshed out just yet but does allow players to amass points which can be used to unlock cosmetic items.
The elephant in the room is that, from what has been seen so far. SNOW’s free-to-play model is mostly cosmetic other than a few challenge type missions, which allow the player to compete against other players on leaderboards. Nothing the game offers in exchange for real money cannot be gained through simply playing the game. At the time of writing, the game doesn’t require a huge amount of time to gain points. Levels and in-game currency – the points – can be acquired though all means including distance traveled. It’s odd to say that a sports game accommodates all play-styles, but SNOW does.
SNOW also has VR support, offers first and third person camera options and features a large map as well as a few smaller ones. SNOW is made with CryENGINE and, although the game isn’t breaking boundaries in terms of graphical prowess, it still manages to be easy on the eyes.
Unfortunately, SNOW isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and does have some issues. SNOW has some issues with is UI; it can often get stuck, disappear or stay on screen, requiring a game restart. There are also a limited number of servers at the time of writing, without an option to host your own, which often makes SNOW very hard to play with a friend. You have to hammer the enter key until there’s a free space available. Although minor, it’s worth mentioning there are occasional physics bugs as well as odd terrain and textures in certain areas – however, these are few and far between.
SNOW shows a lot of promise right now, but it still has a long way to go in terms of tweaks and bug fixing. The core gameplay and mechanics are solid and the game is a joy to play – and once the networking issues are sorted out, and with the promise of snowboards, this game has the potential to be one of the best sports game we’ve seen in years.