We’ve seen Sonic the Hedgehog games with free-roaming hub areas, but a fully open-world Sonic? That’s an entirely new animal. Ready or not, here comes Sonic Frontiers, which Sega is calling Sonic’s first “open-zone-inspired gaming experience.” Check out the first trailer, as well as a few screenshots of its vast, fully explorable areas.
First teased at the Sonic Central event back in May, Sonic Frontiers is the big new game that Sonic Team, headed by producer Sachiko Kawamura and director Morio Kishimoto, has been working on since 2017’s Sonic Forces. The official announcement says it’s an all-new type of Sonic game. Rather than adventuring through a series of closed-off zones, our hedgehog hero will have the run of a vast, open-zone realm, filled with grass, flowers, ruins, and plenty of things to jump on, speed through, or run past. Here’s the trailer, which debuted tonight during The Game Awards 2021.
In case the whole open-zone idea is eluding you, Sega also sent along a series of screenshots with the official Sonic Frontiers announcement, none of which feature the titular hedgehog. We’ve got a lovely shot of a lake beneath a waterfall.
Then there’s a field of wildflowers I found particularly fetching. I wonder if Sonic will kick up colorful petals as he speeds through.
And then we have these neat ruins, suggesting Sonic has found himself in a world that once played host to some ancient civilization.
What I am not seeing is a proliferation of random loop-de-loops, green grass over brown checkerboard dirt, or any signs of a massive impractical casino that doubles as a deathtrap. I’m not saying those things won’t make it into the game, just that I am not seeing a place for them in these screenshots. Maybe a dose of “reality” is what Sonic needs right now. After decades of rushing through carefully-crafted courses, it could be time to see what he can do in the real world. It worked for the movie, right?
Sonic Frontiers is slated for a late 2022 release on current and last-gen consoles. Look for more info in the coming months.