Sonic Frontiers Looks Like A Bland Unreal Engine Tech Demo

Sonic Frontiers Looks Like A Bland Unreal Engine Tech Demo
Screenshot: Sega / Kotaku

A brief preview of Sonic Frontiers was enough to get folks talking about Breath of the Wild again, but now that we have more footage, it’s clear what this upcoming game is all about. Sega finally listened to YouTube comments and hired one of those “remade in Unreal” guys.

Sega shared a decent chunk of Sonic Frontiers gameplay this morning, showing off some of the shenanigans the blue hedgehog will get up to in his next adventure. Sonic collects rings. Sonic dashes through verdant fields. Sonic grinds floating rails. Sonic climbs (and then eventually runs up the sides of) ancient towers. Sonic solves simplistic puzzles for collectible knick knacks.

Basically, it’s everything you’d expect from an open-world game, only with a few more speed lines.

But is that what Sonic fans really want? The franchise used to pride itself on its unique personality, and I’m not getting any of that from this early Sonic Frontiers footage. The game looks nice, don’t get me wrong, it’s just weird to see Sonic in a melancholy world that seems cobbled together from bits and pieces of other games when his whole vibe used to be “Mario is old and tired, I’m the new punk rock hotness.”

If you had showed me Sonic Frontiers last week and told me a fan reimagined Sonic with Unreal stock assets or even that someone simply modded the blue blur into Xenoblade Chronicles, I wouldn’t have argued. It so perfectly achieves the same level of lifelessness as countless “realistic, high-definition Sonic with god rays and puddles” demos on YouTube that I’m half-convinced it’s a parody of those videos.

All that said, Sonic Frontiers still has a lot of time left in the oven. While there’s no concrete release date, Sega says it’s coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC later this year.



  • I watched the gameplay and man did that not look fun. I just don’t think sonic’s moveset lends itself to an open world design. He moves so fast there needs to be a linear path the player can easily follow and it’s why I don’t think they have ever properly cracked Sonic in 3D.
    The gameplay loop just looks like you run around grassy areas aimlessly until you find the “speed path.”

    • I actually think that an open world is a way to go for a Sonic game. The closed in linear path is too constrained for a character that moves so fast, it’s basically like playing a quicktime event.

      With a larger space you can move fast, take in the area visually and have more time to react and make decisions on where to go.

      The demo doesn’t look great and is clearly unfinished but hopefully once it’s populated it’ll be nicer.

    • Sonic’s moveset hasn’t lent itself to any game style for the past 30 years.

      It baffles me that the gaming franchise has had such iconic staying power. Sega has released ONE successful AAA Sonic game since the Mega Drive (Sonic Adventure) and that was 23 years ago! And even that was objectively pretty crappy- it was just super pretty and kinda novel as a Dreamcast launch game.

      ‘Running fast’ just isn’t a particularly fun skill and (as we’ve seen) it’s really hard to integrate into a 3D game without turning the game into a series of scripted corridors. Even the 2D games were best when you were going slow- and the kind of repetition required to go fast through most of the levels isn’t suited to modern gaming.

      Don’t get me wrong I still like the Master System and Mega Drive games, but they should stick to nostalgic 2D updates.

  • The thing that stood out to me is that the world was just so empty. There’s no enemies anywhere. I think at one point he passed by a weird disk-shaped thing that might have been an enemy, but that’s about it.

  • Imagine Elden Ring but Torrent moves 50 times as fast and the Lands Between is mostly empty apart from the flowers to collect and a few spiritspring jumps.

    Sounds shit right?

  • “So how much control do you take away from the player by adding absurd amounts of springs, rails, etc, chained together requiring barely any player input?”


  • The issue is you have a cartoon hedgehog running around a photo-realistic rendered world… its uncanny that you immediately notice its just wrong, without your brain telling you why, you just know it is.

    Now imagine that world re-rendered with say Sonic Generations landscape tilesets.

    Like why are there cartoon pinball bounce pads next near a perfectly rendered waterfall???

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