Sonic Frontiers: First Look

In recent years, Sonic the Hedgehog has become a stale franchise. While Sonic Mania and Team Sonic Racing are fine additions, main series games have been far from impressive. Sonic Frontiers hopes to change everything for the franchise, making it a titan in the gaming industry once more. With the success of Sonic’s 2020 film outing – and with a second film on the way – it is time for the Blue Blur’s video games to catch up! 

On December 10th, 2021, we received the initial trailer for Sonic Frontiers. Nobody knew what to expect as very little was out in the open prior. So, we have learned a bunch from its first trailer! The main highlight is that Sonic Frontiers looks to be an open-world game. On the Sonic the Hedgehog website, this is all but confirmed as Frontiers will continue the current gaming trend of expansive open-world games. ‘An experience like never before, accelerate to new heights and experience the thrill of high velocity open-zone freedom.’ 

Environment Screenshot

Changing the Sonic game formula is intriguing. For the longest time, main series Sonic games have had a very simple objective, which is getting from point A to point B. Sure, there are often alternative routes to take, but Sonic levels are often linear. Now, there is nothing wrong with this, but for a series that is now over 30 years old that has failed to do this effectively in recent entries, it’s time for something new. The last time we had this innovation was Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. Hopefully this time, Sonic is appropriately represented in relation to gameplay and level design.

What is particularly interesting in this description is the focus on high velocity. Unlike Rise of Lyric, it seems this game will be about speed. To get a real feel of speed, this world must be expansive; otherwise, the gameplay will be too “stop and start”. With the time Sonic Team have had to work on Frontiers, hopefully it fulfills the feeling of speed. It is also promising that with this initial trailer, we have been shown environments that look incredible! I want to explore these locations and hopefully – while this is a Sonic game – we get to slow down from time to time and take in the beautiful landscapes. Players can explore a variety of biomes, so it will be interesting to see a range of alluring locations.

Environment Screenshot

From seeing the images and trailer, there are obvious comparisons to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. From graphics to landscapes, to music to even enemies, similarities have been spotted throughout the trailer. Even the drastic change in Sonic the Hedgehog’s formula is comparable with that of The Legend of Zelda. By no means is Sonic Frontiers the only culprit of this as Pokémon Legends: Arceus, among others, has too taken influence. But Sonic Frontiers will hopefully have its own identity, especially if speed is a core gameplay element.  

This trailer asks many questions. Who is speaking to Sonic? Who are the main villains? There are plenty of other questions to ask. The voice sounded like Amy, but the villain is far from certain. It would be interesting to see Dr. Eggman take a back seat in place of a bigger, badder threat. There is no indication of characters or the story yet. Another mystery is Sonic Frontier’s location(s). Yes, we know the game is based in Starfall Islands, but this setting has never been covered in a Sonic game before. It will be interesting to discover the connections between Starfall Islands and Sonic’s story.

If Sonic Team can pull this off, Sonic Frontiers could be a fantastic addition and revival of the franchise. Trying something new is worthwhile when a franchise is 30 years old. Hopefully, it works and becomes the light at the end of the tunnel for Sonic the Hedgehog.  

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