This month, IGN has released a lot of new footage of Sega’s upcoming open-world speed ‘em up, Sonic Frontiers. The fan reaction has been mixed, to say the least, with some even suggesting online that the devs delay the game to improve or change things they don’t like about Frontiers after seeing it in action. But Sega isn’t planning to do that, and instead just thinks folks complaining about the game “don’t understand” it yet.
In an interview with VGC, Sonic Team studio head Takashi Iizuka talked about the mixed fan reactions that have surfaced online. Specifically, he commented on the negative opinions being shared by fans who feel the game’s move to a more open-world-like experience has sucked some of the heart and soul out of Sonic, or who think the whole thing looks like a weird, boring demo made in Unreal using existing, unrelated assets.
According to Iizuka, fans online just don’t understand what the game is or what the team has made, suggesting folks are comparing it to other games they know, which he claims is leading to incorrect assumptions about Frontiers.
“It’s not really that surprising,” Iizuka told VGC. “We do realise everyone is just kind of reacting to the videos that they saw, and because they don’t understand what this new gameplay is, they’re kind of comparing it to other games that they already know.
“So we do see a lot of people saying, ‘oh, it’s kind of like this, it’s kind of like that, but it’s not like this, it’s not like that’.”
According to Iizuka, Sonic Frontiers isn’t an open-world game at all, but instead, is something new that the team internally calls “open-zone.”
“And this new game system itself is something that doesn’t really exist in any other comparable titles,” explained Iizuka. “So we really hope that from here until launch we can really explain what open-zone gameplay is.”
But the thing is, I (and you) know the internet. We know angry, disappointed fans on social media — fuelled by faux-angry content creators on YouTube and Twitch — aren’t going to stop asking for the game to be changed or even delayed. We saw this when the hashtag #DelaySonicFrontiers began trending online for a bit.
For those fans already convinced that the next game is a trainwreck that needs to be saved, Iizuka threw cold water on any hopes that his team would delay the game to implement fan feedback, telling VGC that based on playtesting they “feel really confident” that the game is shaping up to be an experience that people will enjoy. He further added that when people actually play the game “from start to finish” they have a great time and when asked, “give it like an 80 or 90 point score out of 100.”
At this point, Iizuka says that unless the team all get covid and are suddenly hospitalized or something similarly bad and sudden happens, Sonic Frontiers will be finished and released this year.
“But we’re working right now with our team in Japan who are working really hard to make sure, this holiday, people can buy the game, pick it up, take it home, and have a fun experience with it.”