Earlier today, Sega shared a brief look at Sonic Frontiers, the next instalment of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise launching on every major gaming platform later this year. It’s open-world and very green, so you know what that means: Folks couldn’t help but make comparisons to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on social media.
Sonic Frontiers was first revealed at last year’s Keighley Awards with an impressive cinematic showcasing its gorgeous, ruin-spotted environments. Sega straight-up described the game as Sonic’s first “open-zone-inspired gaming experience” at the time, but today’s gameplay footage seems to have really driven home the open-world aspect for fans.
As is often the case with open-world games these days, much of the discussion surrounding Sonic Frontiers online involved its superficial similarities to 2017’s Breath of the Wild, so much so that the Zelda game is trending on Twitter again.
“Guys, this new Breath of the Wild mod is fucking crazy,” reads one particularly popular tweet, while another jokingly refers to Sonic Frontiers as “Sonic: Breath of the Wild.” A third simply strings together a series of all-caps references to Zelda, Elden Ring, and even Death Standing.
Kotaku managing editor Carolyn Petit and I very much agree with that last comparison, for the record, but I’ll fully admit to still being hopelessly in love with Hideo Kojima’s post-apocalyptic package delivery simulator.
Breath of the Wild so dominated conversation about open-world mechanics at launch that its name became shorthand for all open-world games. And while it may bring to mind an oft-repeated joke about the silliness of such comparisons, this is a common phenomenon in gaming. When Doom made the scene in 1993, for example, its popularity meant that subsequent first-person shooters were often called “Doom clones,” a trend that ignored the fact that the tropes we now associate with the genre were largely invented by Wolfenstein 3D, a fellow id Software game released a year prior.
Serious or not, it seems not even Sonic is fast enough to escape Breath of the Wild comparisons (or pushback to those comparisons, or pushback to the pushback, or pushback to the pushback to the pushback, etc.). I’m more worried, to be honest, about Sonic Frontiers’ giant hamster wheels seemingly aping Ubisoft-style, map icon-revealing towers. But really, we’re all working off such little footage that any broad statements about the game are probably best kept to ourselves until we get a more complete picture of what it brings to the table tomorrow.