Blue streaks speed by, too fast for the naked eye, as Sega’s Sonic Frontiers launches next month. It’s out on November 8th for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, PC, and Nintendo Switch and fans of the Blue Blur should find plenty to like. Let’s look at 15 things you should know before picking it up.
The story of Sonic Frontiers takes place after the events of Sonic Forces and Sonic Team Racing. Written by Ian Flynn, known for his work on Sonic the Hedgehog for Archie Comics and IDW Publishing, it sees Sonic, Amy and Tails traveling to the Starfall Islands to locate the Chaos Emeralds. However, after entering a wormhole, the group ends up separated. Sonic must explore the world to find his friends, encountering strange new enemies like the Guardians. He also comes across Sage, a hostile figure trying to warn Sonic away for unknown reasons.
There will be references to past titles, like Sonic Adventure’s Chao Garden. While Sonic Generations and Forces won’t be heavily referenced, the idea is to make Frontiers feel as if it’s connected to Sonic’s overall history.
The Starfall Islands are an archipelago, meaning there are multiple separate islands to explore. Sonic starts on Kronos Island, lush with plains, forests and ancient ruins. Ares Island is more of a desert with dunes and ancient structures to explore. Meanwhile, Chaos Island channels Mordor with a large volcano, rivers of lava, and brimstone. Each island is packed with platforming sections, whether it’s jump pads or rails to grind, puzzles, or enemies to fight.
Open Zone Gameplay
In a major departure from previous Sonic titles, Sonic Frontiers is an “Open Zone” game, which means it’s an open world. You’ll find specific points of interest, be it towers to climb and survey the area, puzzles to solve, world bosses to defeat, and Memory Tokens to collect. You can also find Koco and deliver them to the Elder Koco for increased attack, defense, speed, and total rings held.
Collecting the Chaos Emeralds is the main goal, but you also need to collect portal gears to access the new Cyber Space Levels (more on that shortly). Another major part of Sonic’s mission is to defeat the Titans, huge robotic beings which seemingly answer to Sage. In addition, one also meets Big the Cat and can go fishing, earning items to trade at his shop.
Cyber Space Levels
Worried about the lack of traditional linear levels? That’s where Cyber Space comes in. By using portal keys, Sonic ventures into these stages, which are based on classic titles. There’s one set in Sky Sanctuary from Sonic and Knuckles, and another in Green Hill from Sonic the Hedgehog. By completing different objectives in a Cyber Space level, like collecting all Red Rings or a Time Attack completion, Sonic will receive Vault Keys for accessing the Chaos Emeralds.
Seeds of Power and Defense
Red Seeds of Power increase Sonic’s attack while Blue Seeds of Defense raise his defense. There are several ways to obtain both, from completing challenges and opening steel containers to trading specific items from the fishing mini-game to Big the Cat. Once a Seed is collected, you can trade it to the Hermit Koco, which raises your attack and defense accordingly.
Combat plays a big role in Sonic Frontiers, especially as Sonic takes on different enemies and world bosses. The classic Homing Attack and Spin Attack return, but he can also side-step, dodge, and parry. A dedicated attack button also allows for basic attacks and combos. Pressing different buttons during combos allows for unleashing skills for more damage.
Like many open-world titles, Sonic Frontiers sports a Skill Tree. By gaining Skill Points, Sonic can unlock new skills, including Cyloop. By holding down a button while running, Sonic creates a neon after-trail – close the loop, and it can damage enemies within or solve certain puzzles. Some other skills include Sonic Boom, which unleashes projectiles during combos; Air Tricks for performing tricks in mid-air; and Stomp Attack to stomp on enemies for damage. We won’t spoil all of them, but there are quite a few to unlock.
All those skills will come in handy with the number of enemies Sonic has to fight. As noted earlier, mysterious new robotic enemies are roaming the Starfall Islands, from the regular Soldiers and Shells to the imposing Guardians like the blade-wielding Ninja and massive Asura. Cyber Space also has its share of classic Sonic enemies, from Crabmeat and Chopper to Eggrobo. Then there are the massive Titans, which can’t be slain through regular means.
Auto Mode and Control Styles
Less combat-savvy players can use Auto Mode, which allows for executing various attacks using only one button. Auto Combo is also an option, layering in different skills automatically. There are two Control Styles – Action and High Speed. The Action Style is recommended for newer players since it can provide “more accurate platforming.” High Speed, on the other hand, grants more speed and is intended for long-time fans.
The Titans are perhaps the toughest enemies showcased thus far but must be beaten to progress. Cue Super Sonic, which sees Sonic using the power of the Chaos Emeralds to transform for battle. How these fights play out is unknown, but it will be interesting to see if you can explore the Open Zones as Super Sonic.
Given everything there is to do in Sonic Frontiers, how long will it take to finish? The average player can expect 20 to 30 hours of playtime, says Morio Kishimoto. Of course, completionists could easily double that number. There may also be a way to speedrun through the game, with Kishimoto noting that it may be a “fun challenge” for players.
Those playing on PC can look forward to some reasonable system requirements. An Intel Core i5-3470 or AMD Ryzen 5 1400, 8 GB RAM and a GeForce GTX 660 or Radeon HD 7870 with 2 GB VRAM are the minimum requirements. These will ensure 720p/30 FPS gameplay at Low settings. The recommended requirements include a Core i5-6600 or AMD Ryzen 5 2600, 12 GB RAM and a GeForce GTX 1070 or Radeon RX Vega 56 with 8 GB VRAM for 1080p/60 FPS gameplay at High settings. Both cases require 30 GB of installation space and a CPU that supports the AVX and SSE4 instruction set.
4K Ultra HD
On Xbox Series X, Sonic Frontiers runs at 4K Ultra HD, as per the official Xbox store, so PS5 players should expect the same. However, when it comes to the frame rate, it’s a little more complicated. A report from Tokyo Game Show 2022 indicated that the current-gen versions would run at 4K/30 FPS with a 1080p/60 FPS option available. The PS4 and Xbox One versions would thus run at 1080p/30 FPS, while the Nintendo Switch version runs at 720p/30 FPS while docked. Sega hasn’t officially confirmed these figures so take them with a grain of salt.
Free Current-Gen Upgrades on Consoles
In terms of upgrades from previous to current-gen consoles, Xbox supports Smart Delivery. You can thus buy the game on Xbox One and play it on Xbox Series X/S, fully optimized, and at no extra cost. Those who purchase on PlayStation Store will receive both the PS4 and PS5 versions, which also allows for a free upgrade.
Adventurer’s Treasure Box and Explorer’s Treasure Box
Of course, since this is a 2022 release, there are pre-order and Digital Deluxe Edition bonuses for an early game advantage. Pre-ordering grants the Adventurer’s Treasure Box, granting Skill Points, Red Seeds of Power and Blue Seeds of Defense. The Digital Deluxe Edition, which costs $70, offers the same thing, along with the Explorer’s Treasure Box. The latter includes numerous items like gloves and shoes for Sonic, Chaos Emerald Vault Keys, Portal Gear, and Amy’s Memory Tokens. Nothing that you can’t earn through playing the game naturally – just provided from the get-go.