Coming to PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch on October 18, 2018
Lego Dimensions : closed. Disney Infinity : Disney closed the entire development studio. Skylanders : inactive, with no signs of life apart from the Netflix animated series. With the previous titans of toy craze for life, the launch of a new property that overlays videogames with physical toys seems extremely risky, but Ubisoft Starlink: Battle for Atlas was also one of the purest fun games I played at E3 this year.
Like a videogame, and unlike those previous examples, Starlink leans towards a slightly older audience. Think of an attenuated tone Mass Effect in fact, with explorers in the distant system of Atlas stars ambushed by a mysterious force known as the Forgotten Legion. Using their Equinox mother ship as a base, the explorers are involved in a conflict over the possession of ancient technology left by a progenitor race called "The Guardians". With its deeper history, human and humanoid alien characters, and a vein of built-in conflict, he immediately feels more mature than his comic background, and that alone could be the key to the success of Starlink . It is suitable for families in the best way, with enough complexity to maintain the attention of adolescents and parents, without being inappropriate for, or worse, underestimating younger children.
Starlink is also more a shooter than anything else made in the field of toys to life, with its systems and mechanics all revolving around their signature spacecraft. Each one has three modes of transversal travel: space flight, atmospheric flight and displacement on the ground. The first allows to perform completely 3D maneuvers in the vacuum of space, where you will frequently enter into conflict with space pirates and the forgotten Legion. The combat is agile and exciting, not as challenging as something like Ace Combat but it requires more attention and skill than just aiming and firing. In space, you can also use hyperdrive engines to travel between the many planets in the game.
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Down on the surface of those worlds, atmospheric flight allows a nippy transport, while hover mode will be used when precision is required, such as attacking weak points in colossal monsters or hitting well shielded vulnerabilities in enemy installations. The E3 version provided examples of both challenges, tearing down a contaminating mega structure, and then tracking and disabling a gigantic beast that would not look out of place in Monster Hunter World .
Toys begin to factor in when you start to follow those more robust missions, with exchanging, exchanging modules that affect powers, weapon elements and shipping functions. You will build your ship, which is at the top of your controller, in three stages: pilot, boat, parts.
First you will slide a figure of the chosen pilot, the main character will be Mason Rana, creator of Starlink technology (in the universe). Others will include Chase, a 16-year-old Brazilian racing champion; Hunter, a former black operations soldier turned wandering shaman; the former pirate Shaid; and mysterious foreign judge. Each one has its own unique pilot skill, which can be triggered in battle.
Then you will place a spaceship over them. Each character has its own predetermined ship, but they all fit into any other ship, and each vehicle has its own merits. For example, Mason's personal art is the Zenith, a durable and heavily armored cruiser, while Chase's Pulse is modified to obtain pure speed, but you may want to use the skills of a pilot with a particular type of ship.
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Finally, you'll add weapons, which is where the game starts to really be fun. Each one has an elementary attribute, but it's not just the four classics. Instead, there are seven types: Kinetic, Stasis, Heat, Gravity, Vortex, Fire and Cold, and their effects can be combined. Using a vortex weapon could create a miniature black hole around an enemy and cause a decent amount of damage, but also shed some bursts of fire and become a storm of furious flames, doing much more. Quick tactical thinking about what weapons and elements to use against which enemies, some of which have their own elemental weaknesses, keeps each mission and combat encounter accelerated, and the resources obtained in the game can be used to fire weapons for more devastating effects.
Starlink toys also feel more attractive than previous toys for life offerings. Both Skylanders and Disney Infinity preferred relatively static models that sat on their respective summoning plates, and while Lego Dimensions tried to solve this with their reconfigurable kits He almost went too far in the other direction, feeling restless.
Here, any weapon, piece of ship or pilot can be exchanged at any time, with the game upgrading your equipment dynamically based on your current construction. The boats also feel that they have some game value outside the game. I can easily imagine the children running around the living room, representing space battles with spacecraft Starlink . Unlike Skylanders and others, the saved data is saved in the general game save, so any weapons update will not be transferred if you bring the toys to play in a friend's games.
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Although there is something of an elephant in the room when it comes to Starlink – or rather , a fox. A Starfox, in fact, with the revelation that the edition of the Nintendo Switch game will feature exclusively the heroic Fox McCloud and his iconic Arwing. The physical model of Arwing is, simply, great too, and it controls like a dream in the game, with all the weapons and fans of the barrel rollers of the series of Starfox . It will be a great attraction for many people, so much so that it almost feels like a self-sabotage when it comes to the potential of other formats.
Any format you can get Starlink the price of toys will be key as to whether this follows the footsteps of previous pioneers of toys to life, or if it sets in motion a new wave of emotion for the genre. However, there is definitely potential here, and with interesting toys and a satisfying quick-change mechanics, all focused on a more rewarding and inventive main game, I can not wait to play more.
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