Sonic Frontiers plot synopsis, cyberspace details revealed in new hands-on preview

More concrete details about Sonic’s open-zone adventure have been revealed in a hands-on preview.

Just as Sonic Central was taking place, the highly anticipated Sonic Frontiers was extensively previewed by American publication IGN.


Author Mitchell Saltzman were among the first people outside of Sonic Team who got an opportunity to play Frontiers through a build from earlier in development. His thoughts were mostly positive, with his only complaint being that the animations spontaneously “pop in”, as well as a number of glitches he found on the way.

The main takeaways

  • What struck out the most about Frontiers to Saltzman was that it was uniquely somber and serene right from the outset.
  • Some details in regards to the plot were revealed. “After flying into a wormhole with Tails and Amy, Sonic finds himself separated from his friends and all alone on an isolated island, with nothing but an AI voice guiding him to collect the Chaos Emeralds.”
  • The combat is more than just style, said Saltzman. Sonic’s moveset was said to be varied, with the hedgehog being able to quickly dodge using the bumper buttons on the gamepad. By pressing them together, he can even parry attacks with the right timing. The homing attack was also said to feel much stronger than before, with a ton of impact. After hitting the target, Sonic can maintain his position in relation to his enemy to allow for a flurry of follow-up strikes.
  • Sonic will be able to purchase new skills through a skill tree. In order to purchase them, Sonic must defeat the enemies, which rewards the blue hedgehog with EXP. It has been said that this allows for Frontiers to have “a really nice feeling of power progression, even in just the relatively short amount of time played.”
  • Sonic must hunt down and defeat massive bosses, in order to collect portal gears. Saltzman said this open up portals that lead to bite-sized linear stages, done in the style of previous traditional Sonic games. The levels each come with several different optional goals, like beating the level under a time limit, collecting Red Rings, and so on. With each goal finished, the player is rewarded with a vault key, which will be needed to unlock the Chaos Emeralds.
  • Frontiers is not an open world game, being instead more of an “open-zone game”, with Iizuka being careful on his wording.

The flow of the game

When asked about the flow of the game, Saltzman said that it went from exploring an open world to solving puzzles to open up maps, finding collectibles to improve stats, fighting bosses to earn Portal Gears, using those Portal Gears to unlock linear Sonic levels, and unlocking Chaos Emeralds.

Saltzman commented that the gameplay loop was “very solid”, and that structure-wise, “Sonic Team has something with Frontiers.” His only additional comment was that the game needs some polishing up. Objects like “rails, platforms, boost rings” were floating in the air; and the author hoped to see an improvement in the final.

Takashi Iizuka’s comment

SEGA’s Takashi Iizuka already provided his thoughts about the uniqueness of Frontiers compared to previous titles, but when IGN asked him about what made Frontiers different to the other open-world games, he said that Sonic aimed to bridge “3D action” within an “open game” experience.

Open world games like Zelda or other AAA games fundamentally have RPG or adventure worlds. For Sonic, the core here is a 3D action game. Our basic idea was to have that take place in an open space. What sets Sonic Frontiers apart is the different approach to an open game world.

Takashi Iizuka, Sonic Studio creative officer

Sonic Frontiers is expected to be released around the fourth quarter of 2022 for current and next-generation PlayStation and Xbox platforms, Nintendo Switch, and on PC via Epic Games Store and Steam.

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