EA’s early skating game gameplay looks sick
There are so many pre-release footage from Skate 4 out in the wild right now, it looks like it’s my kitchen sink! Yes, gameplay clips for the next entry in EA’s skateboarding series, which has no release window, seem to have leaked yet again. The game so far looks amazing – like “Oh no, this is going to eat up all my time” amazing.
At the end of the 2000s, Skate dominated the skateboard gaming scene with its commitment to realistic tricks, controls, and physics. For a decade, the series lay dormant, with its main development studio, Black Box, shut down by EA a few years after its 2010s release. Skate 3. Then, during non-E3 2020, EA has announced a revival of the series.
By officially announcing the next Skate game – which is colloquially called Skate 4 but damn better be titled Sk4te or my colleague Jeremy Winslow and I will cry real tears – EA has not revealed any footage or details. Earlier this year, however, a 30-second clip from extremely raw footage made the rounds. EA tried to stop the buzz in its tracks, so obviously it did some more laps. (Side note: Who here has heard of Barbara Streisand?) EA has finally, officially this time, released a few minutes of “pre-pre-pre-alpha” gameplay footage last month, intended to entice gamers to sign up for Sk4tenext technical tests.
All that pales in comparison to this week’s leaks. Yesterday, an anonymous individual uploaded four videos to Google Drive (via Reddit). They appear to show gameplay footage from an earlier version of the game, rougher than the moments shown in EA’s official trailer. It’s also important to keep in mind that these images have not been officially verified, so everything is subject to change. EA representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
But as a die-hard fan of the show for hundreds of hours, this new footage is extremely exciting. Here are some takeaways:
- The first video shows a fictional metropolis, clearly inspired by California, called “Fun City”. (I bet they have great policies for outdoor dining and pedestrians.) However, EA’s official trailer mentions “San Amsterdam”, so the name of the setting might have changed over the course of of development. In both cases, Sk4te seems to take place in another California cityscape. Although all assets are still fictional, it clearly resembles the sunny Port Carverton setting in Skate 3.
- Sk4te won’t be alone. The massively multiplayer component seen in the official trailer definitely looks like a mainstay in development; in several leaked clips you can see large crowds of action sports athletes all shredding and crashing together – not quite Republic of Horsemen figures, but certainly more than all previous Skate Game.
- The outboard crossing has been much improved over the shoddy and imprecise controls of Skate 3. You can slide, for example, and somersault endlessly. In general, it feels like you’re actually controlling a human avatar who listens to you, rather than a jumble of members who check in inputs five seconds after you deliver them.
- The player in the clip doesn’t seem to have a very good command of the controls (sorry!), but the tricks definitely seem harder to pull off than in the more casual Skate 2 and Skate 3. One moment showed the skater lining up a heelflip that I would have likened to “bolts,” the common skateboarding term for perfectly smashing a trick. They fell.
- There are two control schemes. “Classic” is the traditional control scheme, which requires you to press the right thumbstick to perform ollies, flip tricks, etc. “Simplified” allows you to do ollies by simply pressing a button on the face, THPS-style. If this feature makes it to the full release, prepare for a community commotion!
- Don’t worry, the main part of the series “seeing yourself from the point of view of a friend filming your sickest line” Skate the camera angle is still there.
In all the new leaked images, one thing is undeniable: this version of Skate seems to really understand what makes the series work. It’s been 12 long years. If that means developers staying happy and being treated fairly, I’m happy to expect 12 more. But from what I’ve seen this week, I don’t think I need it.