[starlink battle for atlas review]Every man’s sky： Starlink Battle for Atlas review ｜ Technobubble
Even before I started playing Starlink: Battle for Atlas, I found myself faced with one extremely agonizing decision about the game: to Switch or not to Switch.
That is the question.
In my heart of hearts, I really, really wanted to get the Switch version. You mean I get to play as Fox McCloud in Starfox and also play it on the go? Sign me up for that bad boy.
Then again, I wanted to test the co-op play with a relative. So I ended up getting it for the PlayStation 4 so we could both play. Sometimes, the needs of the many outweigh those of the few — or a single person, in my case. Granted, I still catch myself regretting that decision once in a while. In the grand scheme of things, however, it’s the perfect example of a first-world problem.
Speaking of worlds, I couldn’t help but notice Starlink’s similarities to one particular game. See, the first and only time I saw something about Starlink was during the E3 2017 reveal. After that, I just tucked the game away in a compartment in my brain and didn’t read any articles or watch any more videos about it. As I started playing the game and landed on my first planet, however, another gaming title quickly came to mind.
“This kind of reminds me of No Man’s Sky,” I thought.
This led me to Google “Starlink” and “No Man’s Sky” as I played. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought the same thing. Whether it be the planet jumping, the exploration, the gathering or the game’s use of certain color palettes, the similarities are almost uncanny. Of course, given the disastrous launch of Hello Games’ much hyped title, being compared to No Man’s Sky typically isn’t considered a compliment. In the case of Starlink, however, the comparison is not an entirely bad thing. That’s because Starlink takes a lot of the positive things about No Man’s Sky and serves up a far more complete and polished experience — at least when compared to the vanilla version of NMS. It’s essentially what I wished No Man’s Sky was at launch.
For its part, Starlink comes with a chunkier narrative. Instead of plopping you into some random planet and letting you loose on the universe, Starlink opens up with a dramatic space fight that sees your group facing a dangerous threat known as the Legion. The game also gives you the option to pick one of several preset characters and fighter ships. This includes the ability to use actual physical toys to generate an in-game equivalent a la “toys to life” games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity. One neat feature is the ability to swap parts from different ships so you can create your own custom machine. In my case, I actually played with the digital version, which not only has a lower price than the physical edition but also comes with more pilots, ships and weapons. That’s something that I actually found that a bit odd. On one hand, it seems unfair to buyers of the physical copy, which requires a heftier investment in order to get the same stuff. On the other hand, I’m so used to being nickel-and-dimed via microtransactions that it’s nice to be on the receiving end of a good deal for once via a digital purchase.
After that initial ruckus in space, you soon find yourself on a planet where you’re introduced to the game’s various exploration mechanics. Unlike the randomly generated worlds of No Man’s Sky, Starlink uses a more traditional curated lineup of planets. Personally, I actually prefer this over NMS’ approach as it makes for a more mechanically satisfying experience. You may not get as many planets but even No Man’s Sky’s randomly generated worlds started feeling similar after a while.
As you go through that first planet, you’ll end up quickly familiarizing yourself with how exploration works, including item gathering, biological scanning, enemy battles, base clearing and questing. Battling can be especially fun and I quite liked the controls for fighting on land, which should be familiar to folks who are used to shooters. I especially like the myriad options you have for weapons, which can range anywhere from shrapnel ammo, gravity shots, guided missiles and a host of elemental cannons that have their own unique effects. If you’re having trouble consistently hitting agile foes, for example, you can equip a frost weapon to slow them down, giving you more time to pepper them with shots. You also have defensive options if you’re the type who likes additional survivability.
Eventually, you get to leave the introductory planet by going to space and traveling its vast, cold expanse to reach your next destination and repeat the process. If you’re a completionist, it’s quite easy to get sucked into the game’s exploratory rabbit hole and check out every nook and cranny to see what you can find. You can certainly choose to be less thorough and just do the bare minimum before moving on. Spending more time in the exploration phase, however, nets you more stuff and makes your battle against a planet’s big baddie a lot easier. Your efforts in the planetary phase also pay off in space in the form of more manageable fights against the enemy’s giant Dreadnaughts if you invest the requisite time to clear a planet more thoroughly. Add all the mixing and matching you can do with your ships and armaments and the game provides plenty of stuff for you to do and play around with.
All that being said, the game can get repetitive at times. This is especially true if you’re one of those folks who likes to check everything and tag every organism. Even when you change planets, the exploration essentially entails doing the same thing so it’s plausible for people to get a bit tired of the experience after extended play. Questing also borrows from the same fetch quests that’s been used a bazillion times in other games. Unlike Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, however, which finds a way to make said quests interesting, Starlink’s fetch quests are pretty basic and aren’t quite as engaging, making you feel like an errand boy (or girl) sometimes. The flight controls, meanwhile, can take a bit of time to get used to, especially if you’re used to playing traditional flight sims. I also think that the toys to life aspect of the game could be better implemented. As it is now, it seems to be a bit forced.
Even with its issues, though, Starlink is an interesting take on the No Man’s Sky-meets-toys-to-life-formula. At a time when big names such as Disney Infinity and Skylanders have pretty much abandoned the space, pun so totally intended, it will be interesting to see how the market responds to this take on the genre.
Part No Man’s Sky with a heavy helping of toys to life, Starlink: Battle for Atlas is an interesting addition to the planetary and space exploration genre. Admittedly, it can get repetitive and the implementation of toy functionality between digital and physical copies is a bit imbalanced. At the same time, it does a good job of layering in some fun combat and diverse weapon customization on top of its exploration, resulting in a more well-rounded game. It’s basically what No Man’s Sky should have been at launch — a complete gaming experience.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10Cost: $59.99 to $74.99; PS4, XB1, Switchhttps://starlink.ubisoft.com/
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