As a diehard fan of skateboarding games, I’m always excited when a new series comes along. When OlliOlli launched on PlayStation Vita back in 2014, I instantly found myself hooked by its arcade structure. Levels were quick and skill-based with players being forced to focus on timing grinds and landing tricks successfully by hitting the X button upon landing. From PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to a trio of Nintendo consoles, I found myself playing OlliOlli on every system available and was equally as enthralled with the sequel, OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood, which completed the trick system by adding in manuals.
To compare it to the most well-known skating series, OlliOlli2 felt like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, where the combo system was also finally complete and refined to the point where additional games could add more features but they wouldn’t ever change the core gameplay. That’s why when OlliOlli World was announced, I was happy, but it felt almost unnecessary. I’d be more than happy to play more levels, but how would developer Roll7 manage to meaningfully improve upon the sequel?
Well, it turns out there’s a reason why I’m not a game designer as the talented team at Roll7 has come up with a number of new additions that make OlliOlli World not only feel fresh but a proper reinvention of the franchise. While we haven’t seen every addition yet, there are five that already make the game more than just another OlliOlli: checkpoints, wall rides, better alternate pathways, grab-based tricks, and vert ramps.
OlliOlli2 catered toward hardcore players and dared them to go through entire levels without ever exiting a combo. That thrill is still in OlliOlli World, but the series is also more accessible than ever thanks to a new checkpoint system. It’s a dope addition that allows for even more difficult levels and sections, giving the game a bit of a Trials feel as a result. There was one tricky section featuring a wall ride (more on that in a bit) that I failed several times as I was losing speed trying to keep my combo alive. I eventually realized I had to focus a bit more on speed rather than score to clear the gap and I eventually cleared the challenging gap.
Wall rides are another new addition and one that allows for some really cool gameplay sections. Players grind billboards and other objects that allow them to clear ridiculously long gaps as a result. This becomes less about tricks and more about maneuverability. This highlights another thing new to OlliOlli World: a focus on exploration. While there had been low and high grounds to take in past titles, there are now fully fleshed out alternate pathways through levels. This not only adds replayability as players take on goals but adds a layer to strategy as players figure out what sections are best for their play style and preferred combos.
The trick system has also seen yet another reinvention with the addition of grab tricks, which I admittedly didn’t do many as I’m so used to only flipping and grinding in the series, and actual vert ramps complete with reverts. The first time the game led me to a vert ramp I was jaw dropped as I launched into the air, did a trick, and managed to land it. It’s such a departure for the park-based series, but it feels incredible and allows for some incredibly cool levels to be built around the idea (such as going downhill and changing directions). These small tweaks give hardcore players the depth they want while the other changes make this the most welcoming OlliOlli to date.
The OlliOlli World gameplay changes help the game feel less like a samey follow-up and more like its own title that thoughtfully expands upon its foundation. Its art style is yet another manifestation of its desire for change as it went from gorgeous pixel art to a stylized 3D world (that also allows it to have more complex levels). Third entries rarely change things up so much in such a faithful which is why after just an hour of play, I can’t wait to get back to Radlandia once it releases later this year on consoles and PC.