Co-founder and lead writer of We Bleed Pixels. Loves fantasy, RPGs and talking about games. Hates horror, multiplayer and not talking about games.
Trials Rising, the latest iteration of RedLynx’ physics-based motorcycle game, releases one week from today. It’s my most anticipated title for 2019, that I’ve been looking forward to ever since it was announced during Ubisoft’s press conference at E3 2018. Today, I’ll be looking at the franchises history, and how Trials has become one of my favorite games over the years.
A brief history of Trials
The first Trials game that ever saw the light was a free-to-play browser-based game in 2000, simply called Trials. That game also introduced the series’ key game mechanic: controlling your bike through accelerating, braking and leaning. A simple concept – easy to learn but difficult to master – that has been perfected over the years.
In 2003, RedLynx released two new Trials games: Trials Bike Basic and Pro. In the same year, an early sign of the game’s potential made itself present. RedLynx, who are based in Finland, were contacted by one of the countries’ largest internet operators, stating they had to rethink what to with the Trials game they were hosting on their game portal. Why? Trials was attracting global attention by the millions, overloading the servers in the process. RedLynx themselves estimate that these early versions of Trials were played by 20-30 million unique players. Staggering numbers for the early 2000’s.
While many of these early Trials games can still be found online, RedLynx also took steps of their own to honor the series’ roots. In 2010, the developer gathered the best experiences from the early titles, and packaged them into one free PC game: Trials Legends. If you want to give that game a go, click here to download it.
In 2007, the original Trials game finally received an official sequel when Trials 2 was released. But RedLynx still believed they could do more. Just a few months later, they released Trials 2: Second Edition, better known and Trials 2 SE in the community. This game introduced key features that have been in every iteration ever since: ghost racing, global player ranking, automated game updates, achievements, and the now beloved quick restart feature.
After Trials 2 SE, RedLynx diverted from the series’ PC roots and turned to consoles for the first time. On August 20, 2009, Trials HD was released on Xbox LIVE Arcade.
Trials HD was no small feat to accomplish, as the developer had to essentially restart from scratch. All Trials-games so far had been a 2D game with a bike collision engine. For Trials HD, they build a proper 3D engine. The hard work paid off, as fans immediately embraced the title. Trials HD hit 300.000 sales after its first month, just over a year past the release, achieved the milestone of 1.000.000 copies sold.
Trials HD also received two DLC packs with extra tracks. The first DLC, Big Pack, released in December ‘09. The second one, Big Thrills, is more interesting though. Looking to showcase the amazing work the community did with the track editor that was included, RedLynx and Microsoft launched the Big Thrills Track Creator Contest. Users could submit their own creations, with the top ten being selected to be included besides RedLynx’ own tracks.
Trials HD is also the first Trials game I ever played. I can’t remember how I came across the game anymore, but I do remember playing the demo for weeks before ultimately buying the game in November 2010. One of the best gaming related decisions I ever made. I fell in love with the game, its physics-based gameplay and the glorious sense of accomplishment when I finally beat the next difficult track. It took me a year of playing before I beat all Extreme tracks, resulting in the Demon on Wheels achievement on September 19th 2011.
Three and a half months later, I achieved something I still consider one of my greatest gaming-related achievements ever: on January 8th 2012, I unlocked the Marathon achievement. The requirement? Complete the game’s Ultimate Endurance tournament with zero faults. Which meant beating 20 tracks in a row without crashing once.
The sequel to Trials HD was announced during E3 2011. Trials Evolution abandoned the warehouse-setting from its predecessor, promising all new outdoor environments instead. Beside that, curved driving lines, unlimited track sharing and multiplayer gaming were announced.
Between the game’s announcement and release, Trials Evolution was featured in magazines, online previews, special press events and showcased at game conferences and trade shows. Changes followed for developer RedLynx as well; the studio was acquired by Ubisoft in November 2011. Trials Evolution launched on April 18, 2012 to almost universal acclaim. In its first month, 500.000 players got the game.
Trials Evolution for me will forever be the game my skill level improved massively. I began playing Evo (as the game is commonly referred to by the community) as someone who could beat every track in the game, but struggled to get Gold medals on Hard tracks (let alone Extreme). At the end of Evo’s life cycle, I had gotten the Platinum medal on every track up to the Hard difficulty, and even Platinumed some Extreme tracks. Any track I didn’t Platinum I scored a Gold medal. There wasn’t a Silver or Bronze in sight anymore.
The same was the case for the Origin of Pain and Riders of Doom DLC packs. The first featured the All Is Gold achievement, which required the player to receive the Gold medal on all tracks and skill games in the DLC. I unlocked this the day after it was released. Riders of Doom went even a step further; the Atomic Number 78 achievement required players to get all Platinum medals in the DLC, except for Extreme tracks. A feat I finally accomplished on July 9th, 2014.
Now I’m not telling this to brag or to show off. The reason I mention it is to emphasize how special the Trials series is from my perspective. I’m not the type of gamer who wants to spend dozens of hours improving his skills. I’m the type of gamer who doesn’t mind being handed a challenge, as long as I can complete it with relative ease, without having to hone my skills first. Yet somehow Trials achieved something no other game ever achieved; it’s a skill game that made me want to improve, until I could master even the most difficult tracks.
2014’s Trials Fusion was the first opportunity for Playstation gamers to play Trials. Fusion released on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4 and PC. While the gameplay was improved yet again, the game was not received as well as its predecessors. Loyal fans weren’t quite fond of the futuristic setting RedLynx had chosen. Nevertheless, the game did well financially; on February 25, 2015, Fusion had reportedly sold 1.7 million copies.
Fusion for me was the first game I went in with the goal to Platinum everything up to Hard. Almost 5 years later, I’ve done just that on both Xbox One and PS4. In the process, my skills developed even further. I am now at the stage of playing Hard tracks for warm-up, and Extremes for an actual challenge. This has also translated to a global ranking I’m honestly proud of; 960th out of 4.6 million players on PS4.
One thing I do regret in regards in Evo and Fusion: I never completed them in terms of achievements/trophies. Evo had a few achievements I probably could’ve gotten if I had simply taken the time to focus on them. My chance is pretty much gone now. I don’t have the space to set up my Xbox 360, and Evo isn’t backwards compatible on the One. In fact, it’s not even available anymore; the game was delisted from the Xbox Live Marketplace in 2018. As for Fusion, I maybe could finish up all achievements/trophies if I truly wanted to. But honestly, some of them are so difficult, I’d rather spend my scarce free time playing other games than grinding Trials.
And now… Rising
As I said at the start, Trials Rising is just a week away now, and I can’t wait to play it. Though luckily, I don’t have to wait much longer, and neither do you if you want to give the game a try. Because as of today, you can pre-load the game’s open beta, which starts February 21st and runs until February 25th. In this open beta, you can also unlock a special Turbo Bike exhaust, which you can keep if you buy the full game. It should also be noted though, that any other form of progression does not carry over to the full game.
I’ll be playing the open beta, just like i played the closed beta. And I sure as hell will be playing the full game to death. As I hope you will. Because as frustrating and hard as Trials can be, it can be equally rewarding and addicting. It’s a remarkable franchise with one of the most close-knit communities I’ve ever seen.