Early Gameplay For EA Skating Game Looks Sick
There’s so much pre-release footage of Skate 4 out in the wild right now you’d think it’s my kitchen sink! Yes, gameplay clips for the next entry in EA’s skateboarding series, which does not have a release window, appear to have leaked yet again. So far, the game looks amazing—like, “Oh no, this is gonna eat all my time” amazing.
In the late 2000s, Skate dominated the skateboarding game scene thanks to its commitment to realistic tricks, controls, and physics. For a decade the series has sat dormant, its primary development studio, Black Box, having been shut down by EA a few years after the release of 2010’s Skate 3. Then, during not-E3 2020, EA announced a revival of the series.
In formally announcing the next Skate game—which is colloquially referred to as Skate 4 but freakin’ better be titled Sk4te or both my colleague Jeremy Winslow and I will cry real tears—EA did not reveal any footage or details. Earlier this year, though, a 30-second clip of extremely raw footage made the rounds. EA tried to stop the buzz in its tracks, so obviously, it made even more rounds. (Side note: Who here has heard of Barbara Streisand?) EA finally, officially this time, published a few minutes of “pre-pre-pre alpha” gameplay footage last month, meant to spur players into signing up for Sk4te’s forthcoming technical tests.
All that is small potatoes compared to this week’s leaks. Yesterday, one anonymous individual uploaded four videos to Google Drive (via Reddit). They appear to show gameplay footage from an earlier build of the game, rougher than the moments shown in EA’s official trailer. It’s also important to keep in mind that this footage has not been officially verified, so anything is subject to change. EA representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
But speaking as a diehard, played-hundreds-of-hours fan of the series, this new footage is extremely exciting. Here are some takeaways:
- The first video shows a fictional, clearly California-inspired metropolis called “Fun City.” (I bet they have terrific outdoor dining and pro-pedestrian policies.) EA’s official trailer, however, mentions “San Amsterdam,” so the setting’s name could have changed in development. Either way, Sk4te looks to take place in yet another California-ish cityscape. Though all of the assets are still placeholder, it bears a clear resemblance to the sunny Port Carverton setting in Skate 3.
- Sk4te is not going to be lonely. The massively multiplayer component seen in the official trailer definitely seems like a pillar of development; in multiple leaked clips, you can see large crowds of action sports athletes, all shredding and crashing together—not quite Riders Republic numbers, but definitely more than any prior Skate game.
- The off-board traversal has been far improved over the shoddy, imprecise controls of Skate 3. You can slide, for instance, and somersault indefinitely. In general, it looks like you’re actually controlling a human avatar who listens to you, rather than a jumble of limbs that register inputs five seconds after you’ve delivered them.
- The player in the clip doesn’t seem to have that great a grasp on the controls (sorry!), but tricks definitely seem tougher to land than in the more casual Skate 2 and Skate 3. One moment showed the skater lining up a heelflip I would’ve pegged as “bolts,” the common skateboarding term for stomping a trick perfectly. They fell.
- There are two control schemes. “Classic” is the traditional control scheme, which requires you to flick the right thumbstick to perform ollies, flip tricks, and the like. “Simplified” makes it so you can ollie with the push of a face button, THPS-style. If that feature makes it to the full release, brace yourself for some community turmoil!
- Don’t worry, the series-essential “viewing yourself from the perspective of a friend filming your sickest line” Skate camera angle is still there.
Throughout all the new leaked footage, one thing is unmistakable: This version of Skate really seems to understand what makes the series work. It’s been 12 long years. If it means the devs stay happy and are treated fairly, I’m happy waiting 12 more. But based on what I’ve seen this week, I don’t think I’ll need to.