Sonic Frontiers Hands-On Preview – Follow Me, Set Me Free

Contrary to my better judgment and contrary to what the media has shown so far in trailers and in-game footage, I still believe in Sonic Frontiers. I’m still not convinced that 3D Sonic games should have put so much value on the idea of ​​sheer speed, but I reckon that’s where we are now, and at least this time Sonic Team is trying something (something) new. During my trip to this year’s Gamescom, I was lucky enough to have a one-on-one chat (which you can read here) with Sonic team leader and game producer Takashi Iizuka, as well as getting my hands on around 40 minutes of the game.

During the Gamescom public showcase, SEGA was running a special hands-on demo that attendees could play that showcased the first open zone area (the one we saw in previous marketing) and some cyberspace levels, but this preview session locked door essentially handed me the keys to the game’s second island, Ares, to explore as I pleased.

sonic frontiers

Ares is a desert area with a very different feel than before, along with its own unique population of enemies. In fact, the first thing I came across, after blindly running in the first direction I saw, was a huge Guardian. These boss-like enemies are self-contained encounters that combine puzzles, platforming, and combat, so I thought this would be a good place to start in trying to understand the game’s approach to all of those things. This particular Guardian was a giant platform that towered over the sands of Ares, requiring me to move along a series of circular rails to get to it, then along some much wider circular rails to expose it. a weak point before regretting it with Sonic’s basic targeting punches. . It was a decent enough challenge, especially once the Guardian started electrifying sections of the grinding rails, but I’ll admit I found the grinding aspect a bit finicky until I got used to the nature of Sonic’s “boost” ability.

I had to figure that out quick too, because not only is the world of Frontiers full with grinding rails (seriously, why is the sky on Starfall Island full of floating metal beams?), but it’s a huge gap to traverse and Sonic runs faster when you hold the right trigger to get a boost. It works pretty well, but it also comes with a stamina meter that depletes as you sprint, which feels really weird for a Sonic game. I have to go fast, guys! Fortunately, there were plenty of boost pads and other opportunities to speed up dotted around the map, and when you start hitting those intentionally placed lines of sequential traversal items, it gets really fun, really fast.

Sonic Frontiers Interview

Your most valuable ability in Sonic Frontiers seems to be the Cyloop, which is activated by holding down a button and running around in circles until you close the loop. It’s surprisingly easy and satisfying to pull off, and I found myself looping through absolutely everything that looked remotely like I could answer it – little hidden treasures are everywhere in the ground. It’s also useful for enemy types that like to burrow or shield, exposing them so you can hit them. I had a lot of fun with the enemies I encountered, more than I expected. Sonic’s basic mechanic of losing rings when hit and only dying if you don’t have any when it happens also works surprisingly well in this context, not least because you can increase your maximum ring limit as the game progresses.

Where the introductory island in Sonic Frontiers sees you rescuing Amy from being trapped in cyberspace, this one had me trying to free none other than Knuckles the Echidna. From a story perspective, that’s a bit intriguing given that Knuckles it was not with the others when they got to Starfall and got stuck, so I’m interested to see where that goes. Gameplay-wise, freeing your friends is an activity to collect special tokens to slowly restore them from their cyberspace forms, which in turn gives you the chance to take on new quests with them to advance your progress.

that is not him only One way to progress through Sonic Frontiers though, as once I delved into the game myself I discovered how many different game paths and collectibles there are to get Sonic towards his goal of collecting the Chaos Emeralds. SEGA representatives present explained that the core flow of the game is something like; Defeat Guardians > earn Portal Gear > open Portals > complete Cyberspace stages > earn Vault Keys > open Emerald Vaults, but there are many other ways to collect Chaos Emeralds, such as finding them hidden in the world or completing optional mini-games and tasks. I didn’t actually have time to find any Cyberspace stages in my session, but I was told that each of them also contains multiple opportunities to earn Vault Keys.

Outside of collectibles that affect game progression, there are also things like Skill Pieces that contribute to improving your speed, defense, and power, as well as Korok Kocos to find and return to your Elder Koco to upgrade the ring ability and then of course the large number of rings to collect so you can take a hit without dying. me what’s more came across a star shower event, which is incredibly reminiscent of Breath of the Wild’s Blood Moons by resetting all enemies and items in the world (including Guardians), and also drops Star Bits that trigger an on-screen slot machine to … Some reason. What this means is that the islands in Sonic Frontiers are full with things to do and collect in its open world, giving it much more of an old-school collectible platformer vibe than you might have expected.

Sonic Frontiers Interview

After checking it out for myself, I’m still hesitant about Sonic Frontiers, albeit at least as a one-off experiment in some new game ideas for Blue Blur, though the SEGA team informed me that they absolutely plan to continue the series in this format. . If I have any major reservations, it’s that the game seems pretty clunky. Weird junk-in-the-sky layouts aside, the build I played was blurry and prone to big drops in frame rate and exhibited some of the most noticeable pop-in I’ve ever experienced with objects fading in and out of view. vicinity of Sonic. Everything needs to be polished, though, and since the game feels “done” from a content perspective, there’s plenty of time between now and November to smooth out any blemishes.

Sonic Frontiers will be released on November 18, 2022 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

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