3 Reasons Sonic Frontiers’ Latest Trailers Gave Us the Blues


Sonic Frontiers is the blue speedster’s next outing transitioning to an open world environment to let him run wild like your pet at an animal park. Over the past couple of days and for the remainder of the month, IGN and Sega will be working together to release new gameplay footage for all the eager fans of Sonic’s next big adventure.

So far it’s been looking blue in the worst way possible, as its visuals, open-world, combat, and just about everything else just don’t hold up to the high standards of the franchise. With that said, these are three reasons the latest Sonic Frontiers trailers gave us the blues.

Too Slow to Keep Up

3 Reasons Sonic Frontiers’ Latest Trailers Gave Us the Blues

Let’s just start with the most obvious; this is a rough-looking product. Currently, Sonic Frontiers looks like a tech demo from a small team showcasing the power of a new engine, not like a AAA product. The demo just looks vacant and untested.

One of the first and most noticeable concerns is that objects randomly pop in multiple times throughout the demo when Sonic is in range. From a technical standpoint, no game is ever 100% perfect. However, two things to take note of; this is a world premiere demo showcasing Sonic’s next big adventure, and it’s very jarring seeing platforms and rails floating off in the space with nothing to support them until you move closer.

Visually, there’s a lot left to be desired. Sonic’s animations look really stiff, especially when he does his “super landing,” where he hits the ground from a high fall and just keeps running. There’s no impact that breaks the immersion of falling from extreme heights. Another visual concern is the lighting presented in the demo.

Currently, the lighting feels like setting your “Gamma” or “Brightness” to the absolute maximum. Lighting can always be adjusted, but with it being so bright in the demo, it blurs the visuals and makes draw distances look less impressive, which is the opposite of what you want to showcase in a big reveal of your open world title.

Sound design is a noticeable problem as well. The music is sleep-inducing compared to the more upbeat musical features of previous titles, and a lot of the collectibles seem to have a higher ping-like sound to them instead of a more natural sound. Also, if you don’t count the combat demo (more on this in an upcoming section), Sonic doesn’t make a single sound while he’s running or exploring, which is very unnatural.

Lastly, Sonic’s character model seems way too small compared to the game world. This is best seen in segments where he breaks boxes and gets completely lost in the debris, but in general, he looks a bit too small to be in such a massive world.

Don’t get me wrong; the overall change in art style looks nice, but at the same time, Sonic is basically outrunning the technical state of the game.

An Empty Open World

3 Reasons Sonic Frontiers’ Latest Trailers Gave Us the Blues

Sonic Frontiers in game screenshot

Fans quickly pointed out that Sonic Frontiers would be switching to open world back when the announcement trailer was revealed in December 2021, and that it was likely because the series needed some change. After all, this wouldn’t be the first major Nintendo series to pivot to open-world to try and liven things up.

Back in 2017, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild made the switch to a fully open world experience, and it had some amazing results. The game is chock-full of various biomes, exploration incentives, and gameplay features surrounding the mechanics that made the experience challenging yet kept players retained.

From what we see in the trailer, Sonic Frontiers is attempting to recreate this success. The problem is what we’ve seen so far looks far more empty than open.

Not much of the game’s plot is known, but it centers on Sonic traveling through the StarFall Islands: a group of islands with various biomes. They chose the worst biome for a world premiere showcase, however, as it looks so lifeless and full of life-sucking activities.

Gameplay-wise, all we’ve seen are features that have Sonic use his speed to traverse general locale, grind rails for some rings, and solve a color-coordinated floor puzzle that just doesn’t fit at all. There’s little to no reasoning behind why Sonic is completing these objectives, making the game just look uninspired and boring.

By comparison, Breath of the Wild dug deep into previous gameplay mechanics and expanded upon them. The title provides an open world that can be tackled at the player’s pace, creating unique ways to solve challenges that players are still discovering to this day and mixing a dash of survival elements into the formula.

So far, what we’ve seen is Sonic’s tried and true gameplay copied and pasted into an open-world setting. We all know Sonic is fast, but he’s using his speed in such a tried and true method.

While a few of these gameplay mechanics have been staples of the previous Sonic games, there has to be some form of innovation to go along with the change to an open world. Sonic Frontiers’ core-like gameplay loop doesn’t scream “hours of endless fun in a stunning open world environment.”

If it stays the way it currently looks, what should we expect from a narrative standpoint? Go here, go there but fast?

Combat

3 Reasons Sonic Frontiers’ Latest Trailers Gave Us the Blues

sonic frontiers combat

While the technical aspects and dull world are disappointing, nothing compares to the questions we have about Sonic Frontiers’ combat and gameplay features. Just take one look at the gameplay trailer for yourself and it won’t be hard to see what the issues are.

First off, while the combat looks believable for Sonic Frontiers, the enemies presented are so generic, almost akin to the “Nobodies” Sora fights in the Kingdom Hearts games. Instead of these nobody enemies, it would’ve been nice to see opponents with unique designs, such as the Dark Gaia Minions from Sonic Unleashed or the various Doctor Eggman robotic minions Sonic has tangled with throughout his battles with the Egg. Adding in these characters gives the world of Sonic Frontiers a bit more ambiance, making it feel more like a Sonic game.

On top of looking generic, they also look like they’re pretty easy to handle. Flurry kick one foe, run circles around the shielded foe to stun them then kick him to death, scale a large behemoth and punch him in his antenna; it looks better than most thought, but it still looks a little off-putting. Anyone that is hoping for a challenge likely won’t find it in this game.

So if the game doesn’t run good, look good, or feel good, what exactly are we holding out hope for? Here is hoping that SEGA sees the light and pulls an Ugly Sonic-like reaction to the response the recent trailers have stoked.



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