Starlink: Battle for Atlas is the first game that I played after the E3 doors opened this year. I would be lying if I said that I was hugely excited prior to playing it, but I came away realising that this is the most ambitious Toys To Life game to date, and it’s actually pretty damn good.
The game differs from other Toys to Life games in the sense that your characters literally sit on top of your controller. From a far, this looked quite awkward, but I didn’t notice any discomfort when picking up the controller and it’s actually very clever. One of the issues I had with Toys to Life games was constantly getting up to change characters whenever they died. It made gameplay too much of a stop/start process for my liking. But with Starlink, It’s all right there in front of you meaning you can make changes on the fly without even putting down your controller.
I got to try out a bunch of ships, and characters all which have their own special abilities, each which are perfect for different scenarios, but further to this, there’s also different wings and guns which all act completely differently. You can literally even put the guns on backwards (or just one) if you want to have one shooting forward with the other shooting backwards.
My demo began with me flying towards a planet, and immediately I was struck with just how gorgeous this game was. I also got No Man’s Sky vibes straight away, just due to the fact that the game takes place on a series of foreign planets complete with their own flora and fauna. You’re even able to scan each bit of flora and fauna in order to learn more about them. In-fact, some side missions require you to scan three of a certain kind of planet life, so learning the little quirks of each planet is inevitable (but also hugely enjoyable).
Honestly, my favourite part of messing around with this game was just exploring the individual planet, which not only looked beautiful, but looked also looked quite different at every term, giving a sense of vastness and mystery. For comparison’s sake, it felt much more satisfying exploring through this world, that it did to play No Man’s Sky, which is not what I was expecting.
The game in a strange way feels like the evolution of Star Fox (we’ll touch more on his inclusion later). The control of your ship and how it goes from full flight (space to planet) to hovering along the ground feels much more simplistic than any recent Star Fox games, and honestly feels much better.
My specific demo was about taking down an Extractor, which led to a massive boss battle, but the reason why the gunplay is so satisfying is due to the fact that you can literally see how much damage each shot does, which adds more reason to swap out and try out different combinations of weapons, ships and characters.
On each planet, there are certain factions which will distribute side missions and also act as a way to bring characters back to life when they die (you lose your ship when it runs out of health). The alternatives are putting a new ship on your controller or starting the level again, so it’s actually quite challenging if you don’t have a lineup of ships.
THE NINTENDO SWITCH VERSION
After going hands on with the game on Xbox One, I got to pick up the Switch version complete with the Arwing. Now, I’ll start off by saying that the graphical difference between the Xbox One version and the Switch version was quite noticeable, but it’s not really surprising considering there’s a lot happening on-screen at a fast pace.
As I had mentioned earlier, if this was put in front of me and I was told it was a new Star Fox game, I’d believe it, so having the Arwing as well as Star Fox in this game felt perfect. The Arwing can do its signature barrel roll and it has all the weapons that you’ve come to know and love from the series. The actual physical ship is worth having too, and can be put into different formations (unlike the other ships).
The Switch version allows you to take your ships on the go digitally, which is obviously necessary for the handheld device. It’s honestly a game that I could really see myself playing on the go, so I’m glad this option is available.
At the end of the day, Starlink is very much going to be aimed at kids, but I don’t doubt that you can have some enjoyment playing through the game, especially if there’s a little one by your side.
Press Start attended E3 2018 as a guest of Ubisoft. This does not prevent us from covering titles exhibited by other publishers, nor does it hinder us from providing honest impressions about Ubisoft’s show line-up.