Sonic Frontiers Preview – Sonic Frontiers Preview – Hands-On With Sonic’s Open-Zone Adventure

Sonic Frontiers was among the most anticipated games of 2022 when it debuted at the 2021 Game Awards. Sega has kept secret what the open world – or rather “open zone” game entails, tormenting fans eager to learn how the hedgehog fares in a larger world. During the Summer Game Fest Play Days, I spent 30 minutes playing Frontiers to get a feel for how the adventure is unfolding so far. I still have many questions, but I went home with clearer expectations and some glimmers of hope.

Our blue hero awakens in a stretch of the Starfall Islands’ sprawling grassy plain. While wide, the early section was more linear than what was seen in videos so I still didn’t have a full sense of what exploring more expansive locations will feel like. Dazed and confused, Sonic ponders the fate of his friends in a scene that feels more melancholic than I expected. While I don’t know the full context of Sonic’s plight, I don’t have much time to think about it since I’ve been given the reins to start walking. Frontiers controls will look familiar to fans of Sonic’s recent 3D forays; For example, he carries his signature spin dash and homing attacks. However, stringing these commands together leads to more advanced maneuvers, such as B. Jumping and then air-jumping to sprint up vertical surfaces.

Sonic moves fairly quickly by default, but hitting a boost button sends him flying with an exhilarating sense of speed that can also be difficult to control. Sometimes I would curve into walls over cliffs until I got my bearings; Sprinting around larger areas felt great when I was doing it. Bounce pads, grind rails, and grapple points dot the region, with the cartoon decor humorously out of place in the more realistic setting.

These locations feel like bite-sized playgrounds and offer small platform challenges to earn additional rewards. A long, upside down rail served as a quick shortcut back to the start area. Performing consecutive homing attacks to quickly hop between springs to reach raised platforms, rails, or rings feels like 3D Sonic 101. However, the camera can lose sight of the hedgehog and locks on at times align in a harrowing way.

Sonic Frontier’s action feels more complicated than just circling through villains and moving on. A sentinel-like enemy required me to read their attack patterns, dodge their attack with the left/right bumpers, and lock-on attack to launch a series of attacks before retreating and restarting the process. Beating this machine felt satisfying enough, and I enjoyed running circles around it as it tried and failed to keep up with me.

In addition to collecting rings, Sonic also collects hearts, which fill a meter to unlock skill points. Spending these points unlocked new skills from a tree. The first available move, the Cyloop, creates a glowing streak behind Sonic by holding Triangle/Y while running. By sprinting and forming a circle, the cyloop will reveal any buried goodies, such as rings, within its circular boundary. I also used it to light a series of torches to unlock a door. When Cyloop is applied to combat, creating the circle around enemies breaks their defenses and makes them vulnerable to attacks. I got the most bang for my buck by encircling multiple enemies and bringing entire mobs to their knees. Cyloop seems like a fun ability, and I’m excited to see how the rest of the game uses the mechanic.

My skills were tested against a towering mechanical boss aptly named Tower. This vertical behemoth fires mortar-like projectiles and surrounds itself with a spiked ring that moves up and down its body. The whole point of my attack is to trap Tower in a cyloop and smash through layers of his body to reduce his height. I then dash in to deal melee damage while paying attention to the moving ring of spikes that punishes players for becoming too greedy or reckless. I dug the strategy of this encounter the most, and the most fun was combining Sonic’s speed with his offense.

After chopping down the tower I get keys that I use to unlock the first of several Chaos Emeralds and my demo ends there. Overall, Sonic Frontiers showed promising flashes in my time. Going fast feels great, the cyloop ability seems cool and got me excited to see other powers, and the platforming felt appropriate, if familiar. However, some of the long-standing issues of unreliable camera and tricky aiming surfaced, albeit rarely.

As others have noted in previous gameplay trailers, the presentation looks decent but is rough in places. Sonic Frontiers looks very much like a game still in development, so it’s not uncommon to see less polished edges. I only mention this because I’m wondering how old the demo is and if it accurately reflects the current state of the game. Given the game’s Fall 2022 launch window, I can’t help but be a bit concerned about whether or not Sega can polish the experience in time. If it’s possible, and the rest of Sonic Frontiers cleverly capitalizes on the elements I resonate with, Sonic’s greatest adventure yet could be one for the books. Color me cautiously optimistic for now. Sonic Frontiers Preview – Sonic Frontiers Preview – Hands-On With Sonic’s Open-Zone Adventure

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