After what seems like a lifelong wait, we’ve finally been treated to a preview of what Sonic Frontiers gameplay will look like – two previews, in fact! Thanks to IGN’s month-long coverage deal with SEGA, we now have a better idea of how exploration and combat will work in the game, with the two main aspects highlighted in separate videos. (Scroll down).
The internet has no shortage of opinions and the backlash has been fierce, if not entirely unexpected. We also have opinions; Oh mando we have opinions!
Two of our writers – Alana and Ollie – sat down to discuss a handful of questions detailing their thoughts on the initial gameplay footage, as well as their views on the obvious inspiration for Breath of the Wild and whether SEGA should simply bite the bullet and delay the Game.
There are a few polls at the bottom – feel free to let us know your thoughts there and in the comments section. But first, here’s what we think…
We got two gameplay videos for Sonic Frontiers. What is your overall opinion of what you have seen so far?
ALAN: *makes gestures in the air* What is all that? I have so many more questions after what we’ve seen so far. I feel like Sonic has just been thrown into an entirely different series of games and I don’t really know what to think. I was at least intrigued when Frontiers was announced; as in, how will SEGA pull off “open world Sonic”? But Sonic’s core gameplay has always been “going from point A to point B” and it just seems pointless. Sonic and aimless don’t really go together.
OLI: Yeah it’s spot on. I think what I’m missing right now is context. We saw Sonic running around in a beautiful environment, but to what end? What’s the point of all this? Even if the gameplay videos just had someone narrating to say “here’s what you do, here’s what the combat looks like”, I might have had a better idea of what’s going on. As things stand, I don’t see anything that would really get me excited for its eventual release.
Many Sonic fans demand the game to be delayed on the back of gameplay videos. Do you think this is the right approach? Would SEGA even consider it?
ALAN: I don’t know what delaying the game would do at this point. Delays are usually for fixing bugs, tweaking things, etc. Many fans are understandably disappointed with what they’ve seen, but if the game is on track for this year, then changing the concepts and gameplay is more than six months’ work.
OLI: Yeah, there you are, some fans want the whole game reworked, but you’re looking at more than a slight delay to accomplish something like this. Personally, I think some people just need to take a step back and relax a bit. Yes, the gameplay we’ve seen so far is, uh…ropy, at best, but there’s plenty of time to get a better picture of what Sonic Frontiers is all about. It is what it is, and that’s the game we get.
ALAN: Yeah! We discuss this after the first two clips, and we have an entire month of these IGN clips to go through. I’m sure a lot of the gaps will be filled and things will start to fit together. I agree with you, however. These are some disappointing early showings, but we have more to come. Relax. The fight trailer’s reception was also a bit more positive than the first one.
What do you think of IGN’s progressive gameplay drip? Is this the best way to show the game or could SEGA have done something different?
OLI: I don’t think that’s the best way the game could have been presented. I get the intention behind it; SEGA probably wants to show off raw gameplay to inspire confidence in the fan base, but in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The thing is, the gameplay doesn’t look terrible, but by segmenting the essential aspects of the game into separate videos, it currently turns out to be much more uninteresting than it probably is. I’ve seen some people post fan-made videos cutting various bits and bobs from both showcases together, and it makes the game look like a lot better!
ALAN: It’s weird, that’s for sure. Every aspect seems disjointed. The exploration segments looked boring because it felt like the world was empty, and the combat video felt divorced because Sonic was literally running between enemies and getting rid of them. Why does he run and climb towers? What are bots? Why does he need to defeat them?
OLI: Yeah, again, I think we just need a little explanation of what’s going on. Robots, especially giant ones, look pretty cool in all honesty, but what are they? Are they related to Dr. Robotnik (I refuse to call him Eggman, dagnabbit)? Are they a whole new threat? We just don’t know! I SEGA is aiming for the “mystery” here, there was a major miscalculation.
Many comparisons have been made to Breath of the Wild given the game’s open-world structure. Do you think that’s fair, and do you think that kind of setting can work in a Sonic game?
ALAN: Not every open-world game is Breath of the Wild, but I think the comparison holds truer here because of what we’ve seen. Soft piano music. Green grassy fields. Some puzzles and large structures. It’s like a big open playground for Sonic, but filled with very little that makes Sonic…Sonic. There are grind rails and springs, but they feel unnatural. The enemies don’t look like Sonic, which is good, but again, context. Breath of the Wild still felt like a Zelda game. It doesn’t feel like a Sonic game yet, other than the fact that Sonic is there.
OLI: Yes, it’s clear that Breath of the Wild had a huge influence, but as we’ve seen with other “imitators” over the past few years, that’s not always a good thing. You’re right that Sonic was thrown into a completely different game world, and without the context to explain what’s going on, it’s pretty shocking. As has been said online, it almost looks like someone made an Unreal Engine video and said “Hey, this is what a realistic Sonic game could look like!” It’s weird, and I know we’ve had other 3D Sonic games that have strayed quite far from the standard formula, but this one feels…different.
ALAN: A lot of people have compared Sonic Lost World to Super Mario Galaxy, so it also feels like SEGA is still chasing Nintendo’s tail a bit. Lost World isn’t too bad a game, but with Frontiers again, it just feels like they’re stepping in too late, and not paying enough attention to what we, the players, need to know, or how Sonic will work in an open world.
OLI: That’s what frustrates me more than anything. Sonic Mania demonstrated that SEGA has a great formula for Sonic, but it insists on following Nintendo’s lead, as you say. It’s like he knows what he has to do to make a great Sonic game, but has spent the last two decades trying desperately to avoid it.
Rather than just clips of different gameplay elements, I need to know how it all fits together.
ALAN: SEGA has always been a bit more experimental with Sonic in 3D, although that’s by far its biggest experiment I’d say. I think it’s good to shake up a series, but 3D Sonic had more ‘misses’ than ‘hits’, and probably its biggest hit was 50/50 on 2D and 3D gameplay. I’ve never done a game before, so I know how to say “You have to take what makes 3D Sonic good and put it in an open world environment” isn’t easy, but I haven’t seen that spark or energy yet.
What must SEGA do to convince you that Sonic Frontiers is still worth waiting for?
OLLIE: For me, right now, I just need to see a little more. Like I said earlier, the game doesn’t look terrible, but I’m not quite sure what it is. is, Again. What is the general story? What characters will appear? We’ll have a lot more information over the next few days, I’m sure, so I’m crossing my fingers that SEGA pulls it together and actually presents something vaguely interesting.
ALANA: Yeah, I need something that connects the dots. I’m not asking for story details – I’m not much of a fan of that – but just, like, structure? Objectives, purpose, etc. Rather than just clips of different gameplay elements, I need to know how it all fits together. What’s an overview of some of the things I can do in Sonic Frontiers? Right now I know I can run, grind randomly placed rails, and fight enemies.
OLLIE: Exactly! Go then Sega; the ball is in your court.
So our early thoughts on Sonic Frontiers aren’t exactly positive, but we’ll remain cautiously optimistic and hope Sega lifts the lid on the new game a little more in the days and weeks to come.
What do you think of Sonic Frontiers so far? Do you think the open world makes sense? Should Sega delay it? Leave a comment in the usual place and let us know!