How to carve down the mountain in style in SNOW
As Poppermost’s piste simulator hits open beta on PS4, their CEO gives us his tips on how to play.
As one of the most exciting snow sports sims in years, we’ve been following the progress of Poppermost Productions’ SNOW for a long time now – watching it evolve from a closed alpha on PC to today’s milestone release.
As of right now, SNOW is now available in beta on PS4, so if you’ve been waiting and waiting for a console freestyle game, you can now finally get stuck in.
SNOW’s open world (well, mountain) has been open to beta testers on PC since early this year, but the game’s arrival on PlayStation now means more gamers than ever can start finding their own lines down the mountain on either skis or snowboard.
To get newcomers up to speed, we caught up with Poppermost’s own CEO and director, Alexander Bergendahl, at the team’s studio in Stockholm, to get a few insider tips on how to make the most of the game, whatever your discipline.
For those new to SNOW, can you give a quick explanation of the controls?
Skiing and snowboarding are controlled in the same way – you use the Left Stick to turn left and right, and the face buttons (Square, Circle and Cross) to push, tuck, brake, and jump. The entire riding experience is physics driven, so while the controls are relatively simple, the feeling of riding changes as you ride on different terrain types (powder, piste, ice) and manage your speed by turning and braking.
Aerial tricks, like spins and flips can be performed by moving the Left Stick in different directions and using the triggers (L2/R2) to roll left and right. More advanced players can combine different spin, flips, and rolls to perform “off-axis” tricks like corks and rodeos.
When you’re in the air you can also perform grabs by pressing either – or both – shoulder buttons (L1/R1) and selecting a grab with the Right Stick. Performing complex tricks in the air can be quite the finger workout, so practice makes perfect!
Snowmobiles work like any other racing game – you use R2 to accelerate and L2 to brake and the Left Stick to turn. When you’re in the air you can also perform some basic rotations, but since you’re trying to flip an extremely heavy vehicle, you rotate quite slowly!
What are the differences between controlling a pair of skis and a snowboard? Is the latter any easier?
When it comes to controls, both sports are the same. That being said, there are a few slight differences that more experienced players will notice while riding down the mountain.
For example, a skier can get off the mark quicker as they can push easier with skis and poles. Once riding, however, the snowboarder will catch up as they are more aerodynamic than the skier. We’ve balanced this to make sure both sports are equal, so in the end it comes down to personal preference – if you find skiing is easier, then stick to that!
Beyond steering and accelerating, what excitement can we look forward to from a snowmobile? Why should we pick it over a pair of skis?
At the moment, snowmobiles are more of a tool rather than a fully featured sport. Our community asked for more ways to traverse the terrain and explore the massive environment, so we designed the snowmobile to do just that.
Players who unlock the snowmobile will be able to ride up the mountain and see the world from a totally new perspective. The snowmobile is pretty fast, so you have to be careful when navigating more challenging terrain.
Also, since you can ride it anywhere, you can definitely end up getting some pretty ridiculous air time! While in the air we’ve added some tricks like flips and grabs. Hopefully in future updates we can return to the snowmobile feature and add more tricks and fun things to do with it.
What are the most impressive tricks you can carry out on skis and how do you go about landing afterwards? Which buttons do you need to press?
The highest-scoring tricks are those that incorporate multiple rotation directions (like corks, misty flips and flat spins) and more than one grab. But that’s looking at it from a purely points-based perspective. In SNOW we encourage players to ‘define your style’ and to me that means performing the tricks that look cool and show off your riding style.
For example, I love performing a Switch Flat Spin Japan Grab off a small cliff near the summit of our open world mountain, Sialia. There’s something about the combination of the grab and the way you rotate that just looks super stylish to me, so I’m performing them all the time! To perform this trick, you need roll in one direction (using L2 or R2) while spinning in the opposite direction (using the Left Stick). The Japan grab is performed by holding either L2 or R2 and pushing the Right Stick down and to the left.
Landing tricks where you’re rotating a lot can take some practice. You need to make sure that by the time you’ve hit the ground your skis are below you and that you’re hopefully aligned with the terrain. If you’ve done everything right you’ll get a Perfect Landing points bonus for a job well done.
What’s the simplest trick that anybody could carry out? How do you do it?
The easiest trick to do in SNOW is a safety grab. Like the name implies, the safety grab is a safe option as you’re simply grabbing your skis below you – no complex body contortions to confuse you while you’re flying through the air. To perform the safety grab all you need to do is hold one of the shoulder buttons (L1, R1) while in the air. If you’re feeling really courageous, you can perform a double safety grab by holding both L1 and R1 at the same time!
Is it the same process to land on a board?
Like when riding, performing air tricks on skis and snowboard are basically the same. There are different grabs, of course, but most rotation-tricks are roughly the same. Landing on snowboard is also the same, but might be more challenging to players who aren’t used to the concept of riding sideways all the time.
Are there any hidden tips for going faster or doing something special that people may not know about from playing the game a couple of times in alpha?
SNOW’s controls and riding mechanics have a lot of depth. So much so that some of our more experienced community members are sometimes showing me things that I didn’t think were even possible!
To that extent, our in-game tutorial doesn’t cover every aspect of the game, so there are some tips and tricks that I can share. To gain speed quicker, you can repeatedly press the push button (Square). Doing so will make each push a little quicker, allowing you to gain speed quicker. This helps a lot in our Time Trial and Descent races where you’re racing against a global leaderboard.
Another tip is for performing some air tricks that aren't grabs or rotations. When you’re in the air you can use the Right Stick to controls your skis and board to perform shiftys and nose/tail taps. These don’t give you points, but add to your overall style. A great tip for grinding – sliding along a rail – is to make sure you’re not going too fast. Lots of players think they can hit a rail at full speed and end up jumping over the entire thing. So if you’re going to perform a rail slide, check your speed and take it slow.
What are the biggest differences between controlling Snow on PC and PS4? Does it feel the same for the player?
The biggest difference between playing SNOW on PC and PlayStation 4 comes down to whether you’re using a keyboard to play on PC. We’ve done our best to make sure that you can use a keyboard to play SNOW, and that it’s fun. Unfortunately, a game like this will always play better with a gamepad as you have more analogue controls to more delicately control your character.