REVIEW: ‘Skater XL’ Is Not For Everyone and That’s Okay (Xbox One)

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Skater XL - But Why Tho

Skater XL is a physics-based skateboarding simulator from developer and publisher Easy Day Studios Pty Ltd.  Long-awaited by dedicated fans after two years in beta, the final product is now available on consoles and PC. Skater XL is an impressive skateboarding simulator. Unlike most arcade-style skateboarding games such as the Tony Hawk games or Skate series, you don’t just mash buttons and tilt your stick to keep balanced. Skater XL uses the left and right stick to control your left and right feet and your tricks are based on manipulating the joysticks to simulate the way a skater would move their feet. In general, the novel mechanic works pretty well and offers a unique skating experience.

It isn’t easy to learn how to pull off tricks smoothly, but the game is forgiving, letting you land really sloppy tricks rather than throwing you off your skateboard every time you don’t get your timing perfect. There is also a nice little mechanic setting a respawn point allows you to retry tricks and gaps repeatedly without delay. Skater XL also offers a pretty robust set of customization options for your player and skateboard, definitely more in-depth than typical skateboarding games. The graphics aren’t spectacular, but for an indie game it’s pretty impressive. The maps aren’t exactly small, and there are also community-made maps and plenty of mods in the PC version.

That’s pretty much it though. For a whopping US$40, you can skate around and do kickflips to your heart’s content. The only thing there is to do in Skater XL after pressing start and customizing is to complete challenges—a seemingly endless list of mundane tricks and gaps that are repetitive and unchallenging. But, you can also free roam all you like.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a small, simple experience innovating on a beloved genre. In fact, if you take Skater XL just for what it is, a simulator rather than a traditional skateboarding game, and perhaps ignore the hefty price tag, it’s really impressive. The controls are very tight, even if sometimes a tad unrealistic with how well your feet stick to the board. But ultimately, it captures the exact feeling of what skateboarding is actually about.

Skateboarding isn’t about graffiti, running from cops, cursing out old ladies, and being chased by scantily clad women like many classic skateboarding games would have you think, including some of my favorites. The most quintessential thing about skateboarding is rolling around with your friends and trying to land tricks in a cool spot over and over again until you capture it on video. And that is exactly what Skater XL lets you do throughout real-life and simulated maps.

Skater XL doesn’t have to be for you. It’s a simulator with innovative physics-based mechanics in a genre that has long been built around arcade-style unrealistic tricks, racking up points, and nailing huge combos. If you’re looking for that classic experience, you’re best waiting for Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2. But, if you’re somebody who loves customizing and living your best-simulated life with no need for objectives to complete, this is absolutely the game for you.

Skater XL is available now on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Skater XL
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Skater XL doesn’t have to be for you. It’s a simulator with innovative physics-based mechanics in a genre that has long been built around arcade-style unrealistic tricks, racking up points, and nailing huge combos. If you’re looking for that classic experience, you’re best waiting for Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2. But, if you’re somebody who loves customizing and living your best-simulated life with no need for objectives to complete, this is absolutely the game for you.