Sonic Frontiers Preview – Open empty world, sense of speed, spongy combat

Sonic Frontiers Preview - Open empty world, sense of speed, spongy combat

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High speed and an open world, that’s supposed to be a full-throttle fun mix, right? We were able to play Sonic Frontiers for the first time and formed an opinion.

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The sun lies quietly over the desert of Ares Island, everything seems peaceful, the isolated palm trees sway gently in the wind. Suddenly a blue flash breaks through the idyll, the bang of the broken sound barrier follows a few seconds later and leaves not a grain of sand on the other. A few hundred meters and only a few seconds later, Sonic stops and takes a quick look around. Where do you think the rest of the memory tokens he needs to free Knuckles are hidden?

Sonic is truly a jack of all trades. The blue hedgehog was conceived in 1991 by creative minds at Sega to demonstrate the speed of the new Mega Drive – which it impressively did. Years of going head-to-head with Nintendo’s mascot, Mario, followed. However the fat plumber could keep up with the turbo hedgehog. But it is well known that those who run at supersonic speeds for too long eventually end up slamming into a wall. This point was relatively clear with the transition to 3D with Sonic. Because while Mario passed the jump into the third dimension with flying colours, Sega’s flagship had its problems with it.

But enough of the past, it’s time to look to the future. That was me on the Gamescom 2022 granted, I was able to join in there for about three quarters of an hour Sonic Frontiers spend on the PC. The new 3D adventure of the hedgehog, which will be released on November 8th, 2022 for all major platforms, wants to introduce a completely new element for the series: an open world. Of course, I can’t fully say how the Sonic team managed to implement this. But after my time I can make a well-founded initial assessment, which of course I don’t want to withhold from you.

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It’s fun to run along walls. However, they just seem massively out of place in the world.

That’s how it was in Ares

On the way I was on Ares Island, a later area of ​​Sonic Frontiers. And this is where the first question came to me, because why are there areas in an open world game? In the briefing before my playthrough session, Kronos Island was already mentioned, where you will start your journey. However, the Starfall Islands act as a general superstructure, so the world is divided into various sections, like many other open-world colleagues, but you can travel freely. So you can only pat the team on the back to a limited extent.

But what I can criticize much more is the general structure of the Ares Islands I have traveled to. Because the desert was very empty overall, with a few isolated opponents, which I will come to later. In addition to brown empty levels, there are of course the Sonic-typical environment objects that you can race along. Rails to grind, special orbs to dash to, speed lanes, and more have been scattered throughout. But that’s exactly the problem with the thing: the buildings look as if they had been thrown into the environment at random without really thinking about it.

For example, why should a killer loop have no anchor point at all? What are walls for Sonic to climb doing in the middle of nowhere? The developers left unnecessarily many opportunities here. You could have at least built the loops into rock formations so they make a little more sense. Likewise the green areas that I can climb up. It all seems very loveless and in such a way that, despite some fun elements, I don’t really feel like going to the open world. By the way, my goal was to free my buddy Knuckles from a strange prison ball, for that I had to find Memory Tokens. They were distributed everywhere, sometimes at the end of turbo passages, sometimes they were lying around in the world, but defeated opponents also dropped them.

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That’s when Sonic Frontiers is at its best: Going from A to B to C and back at high speed.

Full speed ahead

This loveless world structure is a pity insofar as Sonic Frontiers captures an important element of hedgehog games very well: speed. You’re not exactly lame even at normal speed, but if you activate the boost, it can press you in the seat – exaggeratedly speaking. As usual, you can not only trigger the turbo mode on foot, but also when grinding on rails or directly in the air to cover greater distances. In these sections, Sonic Frontiers also makes a lot of fun when I climb up a wall, then quickly dash from several metal balls to the next and then race through a killer loop, then that puts me in a good mood and the feeling of speed is just right.

Of course, you are not allowed to race at full speed indefinitely, otherwise poor Sonic would burn up too. A stamina display limits you, I couldn’t find out whether you can expand it via the skill tree. But I would be surprised if that weren’t the case. Seeds found in the world can at least boost your attack, defense, and more if you redeem them from a specific NPC.

By defeating opponents and completing other actions, you collect skill points, which you can then spend in the skill tree. I mainly saw new combat maneuvers, but there are also some upgrades for your blue hero’s movement. For example, I’ve unlocked a Zig Zag Attack that thrashes enemies in rapid succession if I trigger it correctly.

The fights aren’t catastrophically bad, but still play a bit unclean.
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Battles between light and shadow

My first impression is that the battles with the mysterious robots require a lot of button mashing. You can perform normal combos simply by hitting the attack button, the special move mentioned is a bit trickier: Use the shoulder buttons to perform a sidestep, in combination with a normal attack it becomes the powerful new maneuver for which I mean hard-earned ones (well, less in the preview version…) spent skill points.

Especially in the one boss fight that I played, I noticed that the execution is not always clearly recognized. To do this, I will first explain to you how the giant robot I fought works: It is built in a circle and in order to even get up to it, I have to jump on metal rings it has created, which catapult me ​​into the air, I have them once completely surrounded. Once at the top, the game continues, the strider is surrounded by three rings, which I have to grind blue in each case. The guy keeps shooting me with electric balls and other mean things, so I have to keep changing rails, and thanks to the sometimes notchy controls, I didn’t just fall off once.

Once I have completed this routine, his core is exposed in the middle and I can attack. Unfortunately, the zigzag attack didn’t always trigger and when it did, I sometimes crashed because I just wasn’t in control. Conversely, this meant having the entire rings-in-a-circle long-distance fun again. Oh well. By the way, the rest of the opponents were mostly cannon fodder, except for one nice guy Space Invaders-Bonds: The robot rose into the air and released a series of bullets, including explosive mines. I had to jump from point to point to reach the villain and minimize his life bar. Except for the imprecise controls, it was really fun.

Even the beautified screenshots show that the world is very empty and dreary in places.

Reference-www.gamersglobal.de