I have a massive soft spot for EA’s Skate franchise. When the series launched in 2007, the “flick it” control scheme — which pinned every ollie, nollie and flip trick to the right analog stick — felt wonderfully fresh and realistic compared to the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games. The third and final Skate title was released in 2009, and since then I’ve had little to fill the deck-shaped hole in my heart. As a PS4 and Nintendo Switch owner, my options have been limited to the excellent but arcade-focused OlliOlli games and the best-forgotten Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5.
With Skater XL, that seemingly endless drought is finally over. I’ve been aware of this game for some time, because it’s been available through Steam’s Early Access program since January 2019. A small but passionate community has emerged on PC and now, at long last, a “1.0” version has launched for the masses on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam.
From a distance, Skater XL looks eerily similar to Skate. Both games have a low camera angle, for instance, and hilariously bad ragdoll physics whenever you mistime a kickflip and fall down a long set of stairs. Skater XL’s control scheme is fundamentally different to the Skate franchise, though, because it uses both analog sticks for board trickery. In Skate, the left analog stick was used to spin and generally point your character in the right direction. Skater XL, meanwhile, uses the left and right sticks for your left and right feet respectively. That means something as simple as a kickflip requires both sticks to complete.