In short: this is more Trials.
As with every new Trials game, something new is added, gameplay is tweaked a tiny bit, controls and handling improved by experience and feedback. While I am not the biggest fan of the series, and I am barely able to finish the first half of the levels before they get too hard and complicated for me, I do enjoy the challenge.
Since I only have played a handful of the earlier games to limited extent, I am not in a position to compare to the earlier titles, not in depth. There is no doubt that Rising so far is the best one of the series if you look at the controls and the progression.
Gameplay is like all other Trials games: you are riding a bike and you need to get through an obstacle course, jumping over gaps, crossing objects, finding the balance between speed and height to land the right place, so you can finish the course in the fastest time possible. Speed does not always means fastest, as if you hit a steep jump too fast, you are being slung high into the air, essentially making you unable to go forward during airtime.
Fusion added stunt moves during airtime for extra points, Rising adds challenges to do during courses – do a number of back- or frontflips, beat the course within a time limit, airtime and wheelies to mention some, that you have to fulfill before the game progresses.
The progression shows by tiers that unlock as you master the different contracts, by giving you new courses to race, and new contracts to master, with the difficulty slowly rising in a curve most players can keep up with.
With the game having crate drops, you would be led to believe that this is yet another cash grab. Honestly, I am getting sick and tired of this trend in games, but Risings model follows the model that I loathe the least. They drop as you progress and no keys needed but they do have duplicates. You can sell and buy items for cogs, the ingame currency that you also get in progression. There’s a second currency, acorns, which is bought with real money, so the game is not completely free of microtransactions.
This game is in the category of “easy to learn, hard to master”, and also “fun in bursts, but frustrating in longer sessions” – at least for me. From the streams I’ve been lurking in, I am not alone. Everyone can play this game and have fun with it – but as the difficulty goes up, the movements gets complicated and most players will need a lot of training to be able to get through the higher levels. This game is not for everyone, but if you like the series, you should not miss out on this one.