Skating is back, and it’s trying to make a big impact. I don’t know if the timing is coincidental, but Skater XL has released just ahead of the release of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2. Does the game have what it takes to go against what is arguably the best video game skating franchise of all time? History has definitely shown us a number of superb skateboarding games, but none more promising to do the job than Skater XL, in my opinion. Developed by Easy Day Studios, Skater XL is more of sim than any skating game I have had experience with in the past.
Skater XL had been available to play in early access for a while with many updates along the way, and now it’s officially released on Xbox One, PS4 and PC (Steam). These updates included fine tuning the one thing that stands out from every other game, and truly gives it a sim feel, the controls. Skater XL has an independent foot control system where each foot is controlled by one thumbstick. It requires a ton of patience and lots of practice time to really start getting it, but once (if) you can manage, it’s one of the best skating experiences I have ever felt in a video game.
You have control over where you put your feet on the board, how to flip/spin the board, and even the way your body is balanced. I think early access on Steam did Skater XL really well as it helped to emulate the experience of really skating to almost perfection. Many people who lost interest in the aforementioned reigning champion over the control scheme and direction of the franchise will be enamored with Skater XL and its hyper-realistic experience in the world of skateboarding. Coming out of early access also brings with it a plethora of locales and popular skaters available as playable characters. Of course I, as I am sure many others, ended up using the create-a-skater. It’s the thing these days.
Skater XL is a big step in the world of digital skating, the biggest since the Skate franchise. Skate was largely popular and the biggest contender against Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for many years, thanks in no small part to its authentic mechanics. With Skater XL out now, and THPS1+2 coming in just over a week, and a new Skate game on the horizon, we could see a resurgence in the genre, hopefully bringing with it more innovations like the excellent control scheme we see in XL.
That being said, this game will definitely not be for everyone. If you are looking for a more casual experience, I would suggest waiting for Tony Hawk to come out on 09/04/2020. But if you are a fan of simulations games, or the authentic skateboarding experience, or even the Skate franchise, then you will definitely be a fan of Skater XL. Just like learning to skateboard in real life, it’s going to take a lot of time and patience to really get the game down. I nearly walked away from the game when it was in early release, but I am so glad that I did not. It’s now one of the games I turn on daily, even if only for 15 minutes, just to practice my tricks.
4 out of 5 stars