IGN Confirms Skill Trees, Storylines, Linear Levels and More in a Positive Hands-On Preview

We finally got a bunch of new Sonic Frontiers details today, but…not from the place we were expecting. While today’s Sonic Central gave us a brief look at a single boss, IGN’s hands-on of Sonic Frontiers has finally given us an idea of what the game will actually be.

First of all, the impressions themselves: the previewer, Mitchell Saltzman, said he played the game for about four hours. He was mostly pretty positive about his experience, saying “This early build answered the one question I had on my mind: will Sonic’s one-of-a-kind game play translate to an open world? The answer is a resounding absolutely.” He did encounter a lot of pop-in, however, and also noted that there were still bugs that needed to be quashed, though he also pointed out that this was all from an early build of the game. The large bosses were the roughest part of his experience: he was thrown off the boss’s arms far too often, and sometimes didn’t have enough momentum to actually attack the boss’s head despite reaching the top.

In addition to his hands-on impressions, we also got a lot of details on the game itself. The game’s story starts with Sonic, Tails and Amy being sucked through a wormhole. Sonic then finds himself alone on a mysterious island. Sonic’s only companion appears to be an AI voice, which tells Sonic to gather the chaos emeralds. According to Saltzman, Sonic Team is intentionally going for a “mysterious mood.”

Smaller, linear, more traditional bite-sized levels were also confirmed. These levels are accessed by obtaining “portal gears,” which are dropped by the game’s giant bosses. The levels have optional goals, including collecting red rings and beating them within a certain time limit. Completing these goals will earn players “vault keys,” which are needed to unlock the chaos emeralds. Yes, this does appear to be details on Frontiers’ game play loop! Saltzman elaborated on this via Twitter, stating “The flow of the game is basically: Explore open world > solve puzzles to open up map > find collectibles to improve stats > fight world bosses to earn portal gears > use portal gears to unlock linear Sonic levels > complete linear Sonic levels to unlock chaos emeralds.”

Finally, Saltzman also went into detail on the game’s combat. We got a name for that move where Sonic runs around enemies (the cyloop), and we now know that Sonic can also perform dodges and parries. Many of the enemies can be defeated in a variety of ways. In the example he gave, he stated one enemy could either be attacked when it left itself open to attack, or Sonic could create an opening by either using the parry or his cyloop move. He also confirmed that the game will have a exp and a skill tree. When talking about the skill tree specifically, he said the game had a nice sense of power progression, even during the four hours he had with it.

You can watch IGN’s hands-on impressions below:

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Nuckles87 has been an editor at Sonic Stadium since 2007, and has been covering events like E3, PAX, and SDCC since 2010. An avid retro gamer, he runs a monthly stream on Twitch where he explores obscure Sonic oddities, and how aspects of the franchise have evolved over the decades.


  1. Needless to say something fishy is going behind the scenes when Sega and ST decides to use an early build for a game that is supposed to release soon.
    Hopefully they show the newer build very soon.

    1. “Soon” it is not, not in game development terms. There’s still months to basically get cert, and then work on the first patch, which it will absolutely get because Open World…

      Not enough time for dramatic changes, but enough to clean up some of the rough edges.

  2. Ohhh, it’s not an open world game, it just has a big hub world. Thank god, that’s really reassuring to hear.

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