Downhill biking game Descenders adds multiplayer as it exits Early Access

Descenders is a downhill freeriding game where the worlds and trails are procedurally generated so you'll never quite know what to expect. It just left Early Access today and got a big feature update: Multiplayer. While you're challenging yourself with terrifying speeds down narrow, winding paths and hurtling through dizzying jumps upside-down, you'll now find yourself racing alongside other players.

I've been playing a bit today, working my way through the early stages of my downhill biking career and wiping out plenty of times along the way. The default keyboard controls take a bit of getting used to, but after a few courses they felt comfortable, and they can be fully remapped at any rate.

Wiping out isn't as funny as it is in, say, Trials, but it's still amusing. Especially when something happens like in the gif above, where it appears I've somehow gotten my torso wedged in my bike frame.

As you progress through your career, you'll also unlock bonus 'team members', who can influence the details of the next course by making the trail a bit wider or adding extra jumps or checkpoints. Descenders throws in randomly selected challenges in each course. If you complete the course without ever letting go of the acceleration key, for example, or by getting a total of six seconds of air, you'll gain an extra life which lets you crash one additional time on your next run.

Sometimes the map's features, difficulty, and challenges combine in interesting ways, such as when the map must be beaten in first-person mode, it's raining, and there's no actual trail, leaving you on a harrowing trip speeding between trees and rocks and desperately trying to spot the finish line. Make your way through the map and you'll reach the 'boss', a course with a massive jump. Beat a few boss jumps and you'll unlock new worlds to race through.

I haven't played a ton of it yet, but it's fun and exciting. Don't expect the procedural generation to be too bananas: This isn't No Man's Sky, after all, and plenty of courses have felt more or less the same even though there are small differences. It feels like just enough to throw a couple surprises in your path and keep you alert at all times. You can find Descenders on Steam, where it's 25% off for the next week.

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.