The final frontier.
Toys-to-life games may have waned in popularity in recent years, but Ubisoft's upcoming space adventure, Starlink: Battle for Atlas, is built around a unique spin on the genre. Much like the now-canceled Lego Dimensions, Starlink's selling point is that it allows players to assemble vehicles from various parts and pilot them within the game. But where Lego Dimensions required you to put its accessories together before bringing them into the game world, Starlink allows you to outfit your ship with weapons and parts on the fly, making it feel much more immediate and satisfying than most previous toys-to-life games.
The customizable spaceships are clearly geared toward younger players, but as we discovered during our recent hands-on session with the game, they're also one of Starlink's biggest draws. In the video above, we discuss our impressions of Ubisoft's upcoming space game after playing it, particularly the way it integrates toys into the gameplay. Not only is it fun to instantly swap out different weapons as you play, it also has a tangible benefit. During your travels, you'll come upon enemies that are susceptible to certain types of weapons, such as flamethrowers and missile barrages. You can then snap on the one that would give you an advantage and take them on. This certainly isn't necessary, but it does provide a fun incentive to collect more parts and helps add another layer of strategy to encounters. If you prefer to avoid the clutter of physical accessories, Ubisoft says the spaceship weapons and parts will be obtainable as DLC add-ons as well.
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We also discuss the inclusion of Star Fox characters in the Switch version of Starlink and how well Fox and company mesh with the title. According to Ubisoft, Nintendo first approached the company with the idea for the collaboration shortly after the game was unveiled back at E3 2017, and the two studios have been working closely together to ensure the Star Fox cast is represented as authentically as possible. Ubisoft says the characters are fully integrated into the game; players can play as Fox McCloud throughout the entire campaign, and the Star Fox crew appears in all of its cutscenes. The Switch version also includes a handful of Star Fox-focused missions not available on other platforms. In the video above, you can get a glimpse of how the Star Fox gang is introduced during Starlink's opening cutscene, as well as the first ensuing missions as Fox himself.
Fox and company feel right at home in Starlink given its emphasis on space battles, but the actual gameplay is more akin to No Man's Sky than it is to Star Fox's traditionally on-rails outings. While Starlink offers many opportunities to engage in dogfights in space and across a variety of planets teeming with diverse alien flora and fauna, the game places an equally heavy emphasis on exploration. You'll frequently come upon new mission requests as you fly around the alien worlds, and you can freely travel to different planets without any noticeable loading screens.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas launches for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on October 16. The Nintendo Switch starter pack costs $75 and includes a controller mount, a figure of Fox McCloud, and his Arwing, along with a copy of the game; a similar starter edition is available for PS4 and Xbox One, albeit with the hero Mason Rana and his starship. Additional starship packs run for $25, while weapon packs and pilot packs cost $10 and $8, respectively. You can read more about the game in our Starlink impressions from this past E3.