Skater XL Review – Accuracy Over Entertainment

Skater XL often takes its simulation aspect too far, which makes it just not very fun to play.

Skater XL Review
Overall
2.8
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals And Performance

Verdict

Skater XL delivers on its promise of being an accurate simulator but falls short of being a good video game.

Pros

  • Realistic Controls
  • Various Skating Spots
  • Active Mod Support

Cons

  • Steep Learning Curve
  • Lack of Tutorials
  • Subpar character customization

Skater XL is known for its emphasis on realistic and intuitive controls for skateboarding gameplay. It allows players to control the feet of the skateboarder independently, providing a more authentic and challenging experience compared to other skateboarding games.

Key Takeaways
  • Developer: Easy Day Studios
  • Publisher: Easy Day Studios
  • Release Date: July 28, 2020
  • Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
  • Game Length: 14 Hours
  • Time Played: 20 hours
  • Editors Note: Our tested extensively tested Skater XL on PC, with our 20 hours of playtime

It also features many unique maps to skate in, as well as several iconic real-world skate spots. Players can skate and perform tricks using a variety of real-life skateboarding techniques. With the recent release of the Switch port, now is the perfect time to take a look at what it has to offer.

Story And Setting

SkaterXL - story
Story and Setting.

I’ve spent some decent hours with Skater XL and here’s my take: it’s a game that’s unapologetically all about skateboarding, no fluff. You won’t find any storyline here. It’s refreshing to see a game that sticks to the essence of skateboarding.

When it comes to the maps, Skater XL really delivers. Places like Easy Day High School and the West Los Angeles Courthouse aren’t just cool backdrops; they feel like a tribute to the skateboarding experience. Cruising around these iconic spots, I genuinely felt like I was out there, hitting real-life skate parks. It’s a big win for the game, especially if you’re into the culture.

But here’s where opinions might split. Skater XL is what you make of it. It’s skateboarding in its purest digital form, without a progression system or storyline to guide you. For some, that’s a major part of its charm. But for me personally, the lack of structured gameplay felt more like a downside.

Gameplay

SkaterXL - gameplay
Gameplay.

Skater XL really shines with its innovative control scheme. Each analog stick controls one foot of your skater, bringing an incredible level of realism and precision to your tricks. It feels like a true replication of skateboarding, offering a real depth of control.

The way tricks flow into each other is another high point, allowing for a genuine expression of skateboarding skills. However, this realism comes with a steep learning curve, especially for newcomers to realistic skateboarding games.

A notable change that I feel will improve accessibility for new players would be to add an in-game tutorial for more complex tricks and a catalog or encyclopedia of various skateboarding tricks that players can perform in the game. A goal and reward system that incentivizes players to perform these cool tricks would benefit the game’s playability a lot.

SkaterXL - tutorial
Tutorial.

As Always, Modders Come to the Rescue

However, that does not mean that the game lacks content or variety. Skater XL does support modding, allowing players to create and share their own skate parks and content. I myself found many fun maps to play around in, some of which felt even better than the official ones. Cosmetic mods for my skater avatar also made the game feel more alive.

The way tricks flow into each other is another high point, allowing for a genuine expression of skateboarding skills.

In my experience, the essence of Skater XL is pure skateboarding. Rather than guiding you through a story, the focus is on individual style and the sheer joy of landing tricks. This approach really resonates with me, as it mirrors the real-life skateboarding experience. As I’ve said, community support for custom content is also a huge plus.

SkaterXL - mods
Mod menu.

But here’s where my opinions start to diverge. Skater Xl uses dual analog sticks, but contemporaries like Session demand a bit more from the player in terms of control. It feels more challenging, which I appreciate for its authenticity. Skater XL, though still complex, feels slightly more approachable to me.

And then there’s the feel of the game. Movement in Skater XL feels fluid and forgiving. I noticed these aspects of the physics engine affect how tricks are executed and feel in different skateboarding games, giving each a unique character within the genre.

A Look At the Competition

Stepping away from the simulation side of skateboarding games, you’ll find the more arcade-style genre, where Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 reigns supreme. Now, while Skater XL shares the skateboarding theme with THPS1+2, they’re really worlds apart in gameplay and style.

From my time with both, I’ve noticed Skater XL takes a more serious, reality-based approach. It does not dive deep into the skateboarding culture. The focus is purely on the skating; it doesn’t care about the brands, the pros, or the lifestyle.

SkaterXL - character
Character customization.

Gameplay-wise, there’s a clear divide too. Skater XL leans towards realism and simulation with its complex controls. The steep learning curve prevents the game from having simplified controls, causing it to lack the ability to pull off epic, over-the-top combos. It looks and feels rather mundane and down to earth, with physics that will not let you soar and string together tricks that defy reality.

The game’s simulation roots also mean it lacks structured objectives, focusing more on free skating and personal expression

Skater XL challenged me to be patient and really learn the intricacies of its mechanics. It’s for those who relish a true-to-life skateboarding challenge. It’s far from easy to pick up, and is tough to recommend to casual players or anyone looking to have a good time without too much commitment.

The game’s simulation roots also mean it lacks structured objectives, focusing more on free skating and personal expression. It’s a simulator first and a video game second. You don’t have clear goals, challenges, and a progression system spelled out for you. There are no levels or tasks to complete, which makes the game not feel very “gamey”.

Visuals And Performance

SkaterXL - visuals
Visuals and Performance.

When Skater XL hit the shelves, one thing that immediately caught my eye was its realistic graphics. The attention to detail in character animations and skateboard physics is impressive, and the sound design, including the soundtrack, really adds to the game’s atmosphere.

The game captures the essence of skateboarding but misses out on embodying the full skateboarding aesthetic.

However, I couldn’t help but notice the sometimes uncanny ragdoll physics. And, personally, I felt a bit let down by the limited character customization options. The game captures the essence of skateboarding but misses out on embodying the full skateboarding aesthetic.

This is why, when it comes to graphics and style, while it benefits from modern graphics, Skater XL does not keep the exaggerated, vibrant style that was iconic of skateboarding games of the 2000s. For some reason, it avoids cashing in on any of the nostalgia that the genre carries.

Verdict

SkaterXL - verdict
Verdict.

To wrap things up, it’s clear that both Session and Skater XL are top choices for fans of realistic skateboarding simulations. Each game rewards skill and dedication but offers distinctly different experiences in terms of control schemes, environmental design, physics, and overall feel.

For anyone keen on simulation, you really can’t go wrong with either game. It boils down to which game resonates more with your personal skateboarding simulation preferences.

But, from my own experience, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 stands out as the most entertaining of the three. It’s got a blend of accessibility, fun, and nostalgia that’s hard to beat.

I find it difficult to recommend Skater XL to anyone who isn’t already deep into the skateboarding genre when there is already a more accessible option available. At the end of the day, though, the decision between these games is all about what you’re looking for in terms of gameplay style and aesthetics.

This is box title
Get This Game
If you like skateboarding and want to play a virtual version of it.
Dont Get This Game
If you’re looking for a casual pick up and play type of game.
Do I Need To Get This Game
There isn’t concrete reason to buy Skater XL as there are many others such as “Session”, that offer similar experience..
Alternative Games
Session: Skate Sim
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
The Ramp
True Skate
Skatebird
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Asad Ahmad is a Games Reviewer on eXputer who’s combined his passion for writing and gaming into a sweet blend of content for his audience to enjoy. He started off his gaming journey in the RTS genre but settled on RPGs like Skyrim as his go-to games. Asad has a substantial amount of writing experience in reviewing and writing for games, which is backed up by his extensive gaming library on Steam.

Experience: 2+ Years

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