Gaming

After Six Hours of Sonic Frontiers: A Game Changer in the Open Zone

An Evolution in Sonic’s Adventure

Sonic Frontiers has undergone a remarkable transformation since its initial unveiling. When I had the chance to play a new build of the game, I anticipated a significant departure from what we had seen previously. True to my expectations, Sonic Team has since refined the game, delivering cleaner graphics, a faster framerate, and a more streamlined skyline. The result? A Sonic game that feels entirely fresh while still staying true to its roots. And after six hours of gameplay, I can confidently say that Sonic Frontiers is poised to captivate both newcomers and long-time fans alike.

Expanding Sonic’s Horizons with New Skills

During my hands-on preview of the game, I journeyed through three regions: Kronos Island, Ares Island, and Chaos Island. It quickly became apparent that the influence of Breath of the Wild on Frontiers was no exaggeration. Sonic now boasts a Boost gauge, serving as his stamina during gameplay. While the gauge is typically limited, there are instances where it becomes infinite, enabling players to tackle time-restricted puzzles and challenges. However, not all tasks have a set timer.

Sonic attacking Excavator with long-range attack.
Image courtesy of OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

Frontiers sets itself apart from other open-world games by incorporating linear Cyber Space levels and fishing mini-games with Big the Cat. Sonic Team head and producer, Takashi Iizuka, emphasizes that these elements, in addition to the game’s RPG and action genres, contribute to its unique identity. Unlike traditional open-world games, Frontiers melds a free-roaming element with the foundation of 3D platform action gameplay. As you engage with the game, the differences become apparent.

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Sonic’s New Voice: A Shift in Tone

Throughout my gameplay session, I couldn’t help but notice that Sonic’s voice had taken on a deeper tone compared to what was heard in the game’s story trailer. The change was significant, making Sonic sound more mature and serious, fitting the gravity of the game’s setting and its mysterious environment. However, it’s important to note that this shift is circumstantial and doesn’t represent a permanent alteration to Sonic’s character.

Sonic fights the skeletal Eagle.
Image courtesy of OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

The Dynamic Day-Night Cycle

Frontiers introduces a feature that was absent from Sonic’s infamously flawed 2006 outing: the day-night cycle. The game’s levels are now dictated by this cycle, enhancing the immersive open-world experience. As I ventured through the vast expanse of Starfall Islands, I found myself with an infinite amount of time to explore, collect items, and progress through the story. This feature truly made me feel like I was on a journey alongside Sonic.

A New Level of Speed and Gameplay

The build of Sonic Frontiers I played was optimized at 60 frames per second (fps), providing an incredibly smooth experience. The game will run at 30 fps on Nintendo Switch. The high-speed gameplay that Sonic is known for has been taken to new heights in Frontiers. Whether I pressed the Boost button or not, Sonic’s movements were consistently fast and fluid. The enemies encountered throughout the game also boasted unique animations and behaviors, resulting in engaging and dynamic battles.

Sonic grinding a rail.
Image courtesy of OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

Sonic Frontiers: A Perfect Blend

Sonic Frontiers draws inspiration from Breath of the Wild and other open-world games but manages to maintain the beloved essence of the Sonic series. Sonic Team’s willingness to experiment with different gameplay styles has always been a defining characteristic of the franchise. Now, with Frontiers, they have combined the best elements of past Sonic games with the stylistic open-world trend. The result is a game that offers both new and long-time fans a fresh and challenging experience.

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If open-world style games mark a new era for Sonic — or perhaps a new frontier — then I wholeheartedly welcome it. Join me when Sonic Frontiers launches on November 8 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Disclosure: Digital Trends was hosted by OnSpec Electronic, Inc. for a preview of Sonic Frontiers, including travel accommodations. This did not influence our coverage of the game.

Editors’ Recommendations:
  • Sonic Frontiers is getting a free update this week, including new modes
  • Even while moving forward, Sonic Frontiers never forgets the series’ past
  • OnSpec Electronic, Inc. is putting all of its chips on the table with Sonic Frontiers
  • Sonic Frontiers will kick off the “third generation” of Sonic games
  • Sonic Frontiers is one of the weirdest games I’ve ever played

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