The Sonic Frontiers combat system was showcased on IGN today, and it expanded the understanding of what the game will be much more than the previous gameplay video did.
Getting ahead of myself, this time I got a relatively positive impression of what I saw and even had a little faith in the possible prospects of the project. Here is the video itself:
Before moving on to the analysis of the gameplay shown, I want to make a couple of additions to the previous post, which is dedicated to the first showcase of gameplay (link).
First of all, as has already become apparent, the teaser did not lie when it showed gameplay elements of the combat system, so my scolding towards Sonic Team and SEGA was obviously unwarranted. Of course, I still don’t fully understand why they had to split the gameplay showcase into two parts, but accusing them of lying was dishonest – that I admit. Here’s the teaser, for those who missed it:
However, all the same graphical and physical problems that I listed in the previous post are still relevant. I will quickly and casually list them below, so as not to return to them afterwards:
Even more obvious flying noodles in the sky.
Even more things popping out of nowhere. No jokes, i’m just speechless.
Nice projectiles. I am quite confident those are PNGs.
So, who is the ghost here? Robot or a birdie?
However, apart from the visual inconsistency and obvious technical imperfection of the game at the showcase, the gameplay elements that were demonstrated are pleasing to me personally.
It’s hard to talk about the new combat system based on the standards of previous Sonic games – it’s obvious that the combat system in Frontiers will be deeper and more complex than before. However, Homing Attack remains the key way of attacking enemies, but now, apparently, Homing Attack can be used not only from the jump, but also from the ground, as well as continuing with a series of attacks similar to the Chaos Attack that Shadow used in Sonic 06.
Apparently, the series of attacks can either continue with a weird enhanced Homing Attack, in which Sonic first moves away from the enemy at high speed and then takes an unpredictable trajectory to strike the enemy hard, or with the classic Whirlwind (Sonic Wind), which throws Sonic into the air after being used.
Empowered Homing Attack.
Both attacks look relatively weak compared to those that will be shown later, however, the attempt to make the combat system deeper and more diverse through the addition of combos and thick opponents that can withstand these combos is pleasing.
Also, both from a combination of melee attacks and from a standing position, Sonic applies a kind of enhanced kick, which also looks relatively weak, but has a nice animation and impaction. What confuses me, though, is that I can’t tell if this is part of the combo or if it’s a standalone move.
All of these combos look pretty cool (gameplay-wise, visually they could be better), especially the fact that several of these attacks can be used in one combo. However, the balance of all this is questionable, because as one future ability will show, there are likely to be problems with the balance.
We are talking about the Sonic Waves series (or Sonic Tornado. Well, or if you don’t like Sonic Battle and are a perverted SLW fan – Tornado Kicks). This attack looks completely unfair and overpowered. An enemy that the player just defeated for a minute is blown away like a pile of junk with a single use of this ability, and it is a long-range attack. There are two things about this ability that confuse me (besides being overpowered) – first, Sonic is not suitable for standing still and spamming enemies with ranged attacks. It’s not the character’s style at all, and if it’s really that powerful, I don’t like the prospect of using it often. Secondly, I assume that the use of this ability must be limited by some kind of resource (like mana?), but what that resource is isn’t entirely clear to me. Perhaps the rings?
I’d prefer to call it Sonic Tornado. Sonic Battle rules, imo.
And, of course, the main innovation and, as I understand it, the key mechanic of Sonic Frontiers – encirclement the enemy in order to stun him. It looks rather beautiful (though pointless) and really impresses with its possibilities – just on this video you could see how this ability was used to stun three enemies at once, turn over a plated enemy and force a giant boss to lift a giant leg. The variability of use is my fave. Perhaps this ability looks the most original of all and really excites the interest of how Sonic Team can dispose of such mechanics.
Encirclement of three enemies, with their further destruction.
Why do we need thousands of abilities if there’s no one to use them on? In order to utilize a variety of skills in the most interesting and beautiful way, you need a variety of opponents that require creativity and cause interest by their complexity or the need for an unusual approach.
And, I have to admit, in this sense, what was shown in the video really surprised me. The opponents shown in the video show a well-designed pattern, the need for a unique approach to destroying them, and a relative challange (of course, if they knock all the rings out of the player with one hit and are caught in a number at least more than one). I’m glad that for once, the enemies are really interesting and require creativity. I only hope that the game manages to offer more than two unique enemy types and manages to successfully combine them for impressive adrenaline fights.
Lots of gathered hostile spheres, requires a lot of attacks to destroy them all, attacks with lightning on short distances.
Armored hostile legs (?), requires removing the plate before attacking, attacks with the plate itself.
Default creeps, no specialties, but in big number.
To dodge the opponent’s attacks, Sonic has lock-on to follow his movements, good old quick-step and, suddenly, evasions. Apparently, as it seems, by pressing a button just in time during an enemy attack, Sonic can jump behind him, with time cinematically slowing down. It looks very impressive and cool, hopefully gameplay-wise it will be just like it looks.
Evasion, looks super cool to me.
The video shows one battle with a boss (or miniboss, it’s hard to say), a giant thing with three arms. It looks a bit strange, because it doesn’t interact with the environment in any way (no trace, no special effects, no wind currents, even birds flying through), but the fight itself looks relatively good. Although, of course, it would be better if Sonic didn’t get stuck in every bump.
Quite interesting usage of encirclement mechanic.
However, there’s not much more to say about this boss, it somewhat resembles Egg Genesis from Sonic 06 on the principle of defeating him and looks more annoying than interesting.
However, it’s strange to say this, but it was at this point that I suddenly began to worry about the game’s soundtrack. Throughout the entire video, chill music was playing that was completely inappropriate for either combat or, even more so, bossfight. I have no doubt in the skills of the SEGA composers, but I really hope that Sonic Team will be able to properly use this very soundtrack (and not as in Sonic Unleashed, where there was one battle track for the whole game).
Obviously, this showcase gives much more positive emotions than the previous one. The combat system shown in the video looks promising and potentially interesting. Of course, the problems are still noticeable, but at last we can see the developers’ passion for gameplay. However, no verdicts – we wait for the release. For those who missed the previous showcase:
To summarize, trying to find analogues of this combat system in the gaming industry, I find it difficult. Perhaps the best thing to say is a combination of the combat system of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Devil May Cry-like slashers (it may sound crazy, but think about it – the emphasis on jumps, multi-strike combinations, variability and enemies with a unique approach) with elements of Sonic Lost World and Sonic Unleashed ideas. It’s hard to give an exact assessment yet, but I’m surprised that it all looks pretty interesting and original. I can’t say it’s hopeful, but it certainly piques my interest.