As a part of IGN's ongoing coverage of the upcoming Sonic Frontiers, we've learned a lot about the title, and we even got a new term to add to our gaming lexicon: "Open Zone".
How does an Open Zone game (capitalisation is intentional) differ from a game set in an open world? It's a good question, and Sonic Frontiers director Morio Kishimoto elaborated on the subject:
“Level-based platformers often have a world map. Our Open Zone is a world map, only we’ve made it entirely playable,” Kishimoto said.
“A playable world map that includes stage-like elements is something that hasn’t really been done before, so we had to come up with a new name. What is often defined as a World in other level-based platformers is called a Zone in Sonic games, so we took that and combined it with Open, which refers to a freely explorable field. So that’s what Open Zone stands for.”
We can't really think of examples of other platformers with world maps that contain stage-like elements off the top of our heads, and so we must concede he might be on to something here. Kishimoto continues:
“Super Mario Bros. 3 was released in Japan in 1988. I believe this was the first game to introduce a world map. The system has been used by countless platformers since, even to this day. A true evolution of this structure is what we see as the essence of Sonic Frontiers’ field. We wanted to provide a next-gen level-based platforming experience. But how do we evolve a level-based platformer like Sonic into this new Open Zone? That’s what Sonic Frontiers is all about,” said Kishimoto.
We also learned that players can expect to spend around 20-30 hours with the title over the course of the average playthrough.
Early previews of Sonic Frontiers have been largely positive, and although some fans have called for the title to be delayed after we saw some fairly rough gameplay, the title remains on track for its Q4 2022 release.
What do you make of this Open Zone business? Does the estimated length of Sonic Frontiers surprise you? Debate the nature of made-up terms in the comments section below.
I get ya, I get ya. If I had to summarize to my friends, I’d say “imagine if the stages and world/level map were the same.” In short. Big open areas, but still sections that are almost like little stages in and of themselves. Sounds new enough to be interesting but familiar enough to not alienate players, I’m down for that
i really don’t know what to think of this game or what they’re even talking about . sonic team just likes to make everything so difficult huh ?
and 30 hours is nothing . that flies by playing video games 😂 what is that , like , 2 off days worth ?
@Platinum-Bucket just sounds like more open world garbage imo . this open world craze needs to sit down for a while . one thing about open worlds is the level variety and creativity doesn’t even compare to linear games .
Open world games are much more common now sure but if you expand your horizons you will find there are way more top quality linear games available than you give credit for.
@nomither6 fair enough view. And I get what you mean. A lot open world games seem to just be “go here, do this, enjoy the walk there” like long loading screens to look at until you get to where you wanna be. It takes a whole lot of good content squished into a big world to warrant exploration, and that’s tough to do, but I also think that the way you travel around the world is just as important. If you’re just walking in a straight line or riding a slightly faster horse, it can get a bit dull, hence why I really like the master cycle zero in breath of the wild, as you can do a bunch of physics based jumps and stuff as you bike around the open world, and it’s lots of fun. I think that frontiers has a chance to be similar, as Sonic is all about going fast, he doesn’t need a vehicle or mount to “unlock” more efficient travel or fun methods, he can do it himself. Hence forth, I think as a character, he lends himself well to the act of just running around a big space and having fun with it. Especially with tells of upgrades and sliders in the options that can adjust his speed, handling, etc, I think there’s a lot of potential. Even if it’s not for you, I hope you can see why some of us are excited, for potentially the first time in a long time, to just run around in a game world.
@Platinum-Bucket i’m definitely interested in the game nonetheless, i’ve been dying for more (3D) sonic games . i prefer them to the 2D games so open-world doesn’t phase me enough .
what really made me say that is because of the world we’ve seen so far , i honestly don’t think they have what it takes to pull it off
@nomither6 understandable concern, considering their track record. I know I should probably be skeptical too, but I just can’t helped but get hyped for it. It may burn me in the end, but if all goes well, I’ll be able to look back fondly at this pre-launch hype phase.
You know… if what we have seen so far is just the World Map (Open Zone), but that in addition to this zone, the game includes lots of “actual” levels that are unique and varied.
Then this game could actually be good.
There was new footage that showed a newer build, and since seeing that I have become cautiously optimistic
I realised that all my favourite games I’ve played are linear or have a linear style to them. It’s all the linearity of Rockstar game missions in games like Red Dead and GTA that got me into games like Yakuza and then furthermore into Persona Series.
A lot of open world games just feel overwhelming and usually pretty empty. Will this be one of those games?
Isn’t Bowsers Fury an open zone game as in its an open world with different zones within? Or am I misunderstanding the concept? You could argue that Horizon Forbidden West is an open world with a jungle zone, a water zone, a desert zone ect
So hang on, what we've seen so far is just an "overworld" of sorts, and there will be more traditional zones? Why not just show a regular zone first? Why is this game so confusing??
I get it. It's like Sonic Forces, without loading screens or the world map. I just hope it controls well and the "levels" you come across get more complex than what's been shown.
Will depend how well the two are integrated, if it feels like a massive open space with bits of a more structured level stuck in there, it may feel a bit random. Be interesting to see how the player is provided direction. In a sense, Shadow of the Colosus did this, if the Colosi are considered 'stages' with specific solutions. Though in that game direction was provided ultimately by the use of an arrow for the player to follow. I guess it's an attempt to evolve the original Sonic Adventure's distinct Adventure field / Action stage gameplay into a single whole. Sounds interesting as a concept.
@Postie85 absolutely. Bowsers Fury definitely does this. It’s definitely not an open world, but does feel like a world map with various Zone-like segments that feel like stages.
@Postie85 Just thought of BF too when reading this.. Good one! Sry mr. Kishimoto, it HAS been done before!
GOTTA GO FA......
@Postie85 I was also thinking about Bowsers Fury, when they are talking about the "Open Zone".
Yup. That open zone was the over world like in Sonic adventure. That is all nice. My problem is that the game play is still boost Sonic. That may make me skip on the game, as i did with Forces.
I still find it alarming that they haven't shown much of the story at all...will be waiting for launch day reviews and gameplay.
Sounds like Bowser's Fury if you ask me.
All these newly-invented genres basically gives me the same vibes as Kojima calling Death Stranding the first strand-type game. Or him calling Metal Gear Solid a Tactical Espionage Action game (until Peace Walker, where Tactical Espionage Operations started getting used).
Or the various genres of the Science Adventure being Delusional Science Adventure (Chaos;Head), Hypothetical Science Adventure (Steins;Gate), and Augmented Science Adventure (Robotics;Notes).
A local show in my country also invents some new forms of mechanics for their talent searches and even calls their drag race/dance show/beauty pageant the first "dance pageant", and it also gives me Death Stranding vibes.
I would honestly love to see what a Sonic game made by Hideo Kojima would look like.
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