The Sonic series has been a pillar of the gaming landscape for a long time. The titular character, Sonic the Hedgehog, has reached stardom due to his involvement not only in other games but also due to his one gimmick: Speed. Or more accurately, he runs fast. However, we haven’t had any good Sonic the Hedgehog games for quite a while now. We did get the eventually great Sonic films, but other than this, the latest we’ve seen Sonic in a mainline game was Sonic Forces. That’s all going to change, though, with the eventual release of Sonic Frontiers.
What Is Sonic Frontiers?
Sonic Frontiers is an open-world platformer that’s set on the Sonic Series. Its created by Sonic Team and will be released by SEGA. Sonic Frontiers is the first game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series to have open-world gameplay. With Sonic, going around and exploring Starfall Islands, the game’s world.
The development for Sonic Frontiers started after Sonic Team released Sonic Forces back in 2017. We didn’t learn much about the game during the intervening years, but now, we have quite a bit to talk about.
Sonic Frontiers is slated for release on PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and the Nintendo Switch in late 2022.
Sonic Frontiers Preview
Here’s what we know so far about the upcoming Sonic Frontiers game.
As we’ve already said, Sonic Frontiers is an open-world, action-adventure game with a side of 3D platformer. This is the first foray of Sonic Team into an open-world game, though the graphics don’t show it. They did have a lot of experience in creating cool environments, after all, in a lot of Sonic games. The game centers around Starfall Islands, and using Sonic, they’ll try to explore, find out its mysteries, and stop the usual Dr. Eggman plot.
Starfall Islands also features a pretty diverse set of biomes that Sonic can go through. There are a lot of comparisons to Breath of the Wild by some of the fans and critics, though. However, given how much Breath of the Wild showcased itself, a few comparisons would always be a given.
However, do keep in mind that Sonic Team is working from the absolute bottom when it comes to open-world. They’re reworking quite a bit of Sonic’s usual shenanigans to make him work on a 3D open-world area. Yes, they already made a few 3D games, and they do work pretty well. However, it’s not a fully open world, and that makes a really big difference.
The developers, especially their Creative Officer Takashi Iizuka stated that Sonic Forces was a lesson about this whole dilemma. He said that they need to expand the Sonic Universe and bring new features and environments into the Sonic Series. The fact that they’re going for quite an ambitious setup is certain to be daunting though, and hopefully, Sonic Frontiers delivers.
As of right now, SEGA’s been pretty careful and tight-lipped about the nature of Sonic Frontiers’ open world. We currently don’t know if it’s a full open-world game, or if the biomes of Starfall Islands would be a self-contained world of their own. SEGA, being very careful about what it’s saying, stated that Sonic Frontiers will give players not only “open-zone freedom,” but also that it’s the franchise’s first open-zone-inspired experience.
This could mean a lot of things and could mean others, but as of right now, we don’t know. However, what we do know is that Sonic Frontiers gives the Sonic Team a blank slate when it comes to what they can place in the world. This means that there are a lot of things that they can add to the open-world that can be unique additions due to the game being on the Sonic Franchise. For example, things that Sonic can interact with mid-fight can affect the battlefield. Or perhaps places where he can increase his speed to do long jumps and other stuff.
In short, if Sonic Team can be creative and do interesting stuff with Sonic Frontiers, then this might be a good game.
We don’t know that much about the plot of Sonic Frontiers as of yet. As of right now, we have only seen a cinematic trailer showing Sonic running away from something, in addition to some footage of places in the game. Hopefully, we’ll find out more on South by Southwest this year or on another event Gamescom, Tokyo Game Show, EGX, or a Nintendo Direct.
As of right now, only two characters are confirmed to be appearing on Sonic Frontiers. Sonic, of course, is a given, followed by Dr. Eggman. Tails and Amy Rose are going to have a role in the game as well, which is why they’re counted above.
However, other fan-favorite characters will hopefully make an appearance or will play a critical role on Sonic Frontiers. Here’s a list of the characters that will hopefully appear on Sonic Frontiers:
Knuckles and Shadow: As per usual, two of the biggest names on the Sonic Games are Knuckles the Echidna and Shadow the Hedgehog. So much so that if they’re on Sonic Frontiers, they might take Sonic’s thunder a bit. But that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make. After all, having all 3 of the series’ most awesome characters would be a blast.
Mecha Sonic: Next is Mecha Sonic, a recurring villain in the franchise and a cool one at that. It makes a lot of sense for Mecha Sonic to follow after Sonic even in this new game. After all, he always seems to stay alive even when he should be dead. It’ll be OK if he isn’t here, but it’ll be hilarious if he is.
Chao (lots of Chao): The adorable little scamps of the Sonic games have always been one of the staples when they made their debut. Hopefully, they’ll also be on Sonic Frontiers, or a version of them will make their appearance here.
The trailer for Sonic Frontiers showed a lot of cool locations that Sonic can go for. Going to the website for the game also shows six screenshots of ruins, grasslands, a ruins/flower field combo, and a gorgeous water area with a waterfall. Other than these screenshots and the trailer, we don’t know much about the game’s graphics yet. We’ll just have to wait and see when the developers will show more about Sonic Frontiers.
Sonic Frontiers vs. Similar Games
Now that we’ve talked about Sonic Frontiers a bit, let’s talk about other games like it. We’ll start first with Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Followed by Horizon Forbidden West, then Elden Ring, and lastly Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
First on the list is Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the first open-world game that Sonic Frontiers is compared with. To be honest, Breath of the Wild isn’t the first open-world game ever made, but it did show the potential and awesomeness that the genre can give to players.
After all, Link might’ve been able to go directly to Hyrule Castle and try to beat Calamity Ganon, that’s certainly an option. The fact that this choice was given to players is a pretty big deal in Zelda games. However, the sheer breadth and width of Hyrule combined with the amount of stuff to find and gain make Breath of the Wild an incredible open-world experience.
Combat-wise, it’s no slouch either. Link can do a lot of cool things with the various weapons that the game gives him. This also doesn’t just mean real weapons like swords, spears, wands, axes, et cetera. He can also use the environment itself to kill his enemies, especially with the Sheikah Slate at his disposal. This, alongside the heavy exploration focus of Breath of the Wild, made it one of the best open-world games when it was released. Too bad it’s only available on the Nintendo Switch, though.
Horizon Forbidden West
Next on the list is Horizon Forbidden West, and this one is a bit of a doozy. It’s an anticipated release from Guerilla Games and overall, it delivers. Graphics-wise, the game’s fidelity, and sheer beauty speak for themselves while also staying at a crisp 60fps. Combat-wise, the game still retains its usual combat style, but with the added spice of super moves called Valor Surges.
Overall, if you’ve wanted even more Horizon, then Forbidden West scratches that itch, and it does it well. It doesn’t have the same freedom of exploration as Breath of the Wild or our next entry though. But other than that, this game is great.
Next on the list is Elden Ring, the open-world action RPG created by From Software, and this needs no introduction. The player is a Tarnished, once spurned by the Greater Will, who now returns to their former homeland, the Lands Between. Their job? To reforge the shattered Elden Ring and stand before it to become Elden Lord.
However, all sorts of things stand in the player’s way in doing this. The Lands Between hasn’t been safe for a long time now. Mad dragons roam the lands, the dead don’t stay dead anymore, monsters, vagabonds, and all manner of ne’er-do-wells stand in the Tarnished’s way. However, they’re not the biggest threats. The various demigod children of Queen Marika the Eternal have taken the shards of the shattered Elden Ring, the Great Runes, and absconded with them, and they’re incredibly dangerous. Of course, players don’t need to kill all of the demigods in question. Nor do they need to get all of the Great Runes. So long as they follow the path the questline gives, they’ll beat the game handily after a few hours of getting good.
Do note though that they won’t be able to find cool weapons, spells, interesting quests, locales, et cetera if they don’t wander off the path. Still, the sheer amount of things that the player can find if they do so is incredible. Combine this with some punishing, but rewarding combat, deep lore, and interesting characters and you have a great game to get.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Last on the list is Pokémon Legends: Arceus, and if we’re being honest here, it was about time that Pokémon gets an Open-World entry. This game is pretty much a breath of fresh air to a franchise that feels a bit stale currently. We’ve seen a lot of Pokémon games with the same formula over and over again that we feel jaded. This is sad, considering that Pokémon used to give us such joy back in the good ol’ days.
With the release of Pokémon Legends: Arceus though, that changed quite a bit. The fact that you can sneak and catch Pokémon without battling is a pretty novel experience all told. Combine this with a pretty interesting story for a Pokemon game, a lot of new and unique mechanics, and a cool new mystery? Well, you have a heady mix for old and new fans alike.
In addition, the story takes place in an entirely new (or is it?) region of Hisui. The player needs to go and collect Pokémon to make Hisui’s first Pokédex. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though, as powerful Alpha Pokémon wander the Hisuian landscape and they’ll attack the player on sight. This is where the sneaking mechanic comes in as players need to stay alert to not get killed, yes, killed, by the Alpha Pokémon. Crafting is also a thing here since the player needs to create their Pokéballs to catch the Pokémon they want to catch.
All in all, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a great departure from the usual Pokémon franchise. There’s a lot of cool lore stuff in it as well, and a pretty disturbing revelation about the title Pokémon. Anyhow, we won’t spoil that much, if you want to play the game, it’s available on the Nintendo Switch.
Should You Get Excited for Sonic Frontiers?
All in all, so long as the Sonic Team innovates and adds new things to the established formula, Sonic Frontiers will shape up to be a great Sonic game. Hopefully, it pans out, because having a good Sonic the Hedgehog game after so long would be an absolute treat.