Starlink: Battle for Atlas

Starlink: Battle for Atlas is a brand new game and first original IP from Ubisoft Toronto. Hop aboard your starship and blast off in this open-world game, which allows you explore the Atlas star system with total freedom. With a diverse cast of characters, including Switch exclusive Star Fox team members, you’ll build and customize your starship in real life before taking it into battle to defeat the Forgotten Legion and save the Atlas star system.

When toys-to-life games were thought to be dead, Starlink: Battle for Atlas sets out to prove that it’s still a viable genre. Let’s take a look to see what Starlink: Battle for Atlas is all about.

Starlink: Battle for AtlasStarlink: Battle for Atlas Details

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Action-adventure
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)

Defeat the Legion and save the Atlas star system

The story behind Starlink: Battle for Atlas isn’t revolutionary by any means. However, it takes you on a journey that is well worth your time and is extremely enjoyable. It takes place in the Atlas star system where your adventure begins as a pilot aboard the Equinox mothership.

As you and your crew set out to explore the Atlas star system, Grax and the Legion launch a surprise attack on your ship and kidnap your captain. With your captain taken hostage, Grax and the Legion are hell bent on uncovering the ancient technology left behind by the now extinct Warden race. And, as you may have guessed, use it for no good.

After the encounter, the Equinox crash lands on a nearby planet where you must rebuild it and come up with a plan to stop Grax and the Legion. Being a brand new IP, I felt that Ubisoft Toronto did a good job with introducing the game’s characters. I especially liked how Grax is portrayed as the evil and maniacal leader of Legion. It really sets the tone for the rest of the game and gives you a reason to foil his evil plans.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

The Star Fox factor

As you may well know, exclusive to the Nintendo Switch version of Starlink: Battle for Atlas is the inclusion of Fox McCloud and the Star Fox Squadron. To be honest, when they announced the inclusion of Star Fox at E3 this past year it instantly put this game in my top 10 watch list. After speaking with the game’s producer, Mathew Rose at the Starlink: Battle for Atlas launch event here in Toronto, it was at E3 2017 that got the ball rolling to include Fox McCloud and gang.

I must say, that it was an ingenious idea to include these popular Nintendo characters in the game. By doing so, it helped build the game and make people take a second look it. Of course just having the Star Fox characters in the game isn’t going to make it instantly a hit. The way in which they are integrated is just as crucial.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

Knowing that Starlink: Battle for Atlas was not built around Star Fox but that the characters are just part of the game makes what Ubisoft Toronto has done that much more impressive. Not only are there Star Fox specific missions, but also Fox, Peppy, Slippy, and Falco make their appearance through out the game to help the Starlink crew.

If you are a Star Fox fan, you’ll definitely love what Ubisoft Toronto has done with the Star Fox specific missions. The crew have been sent to Atlas to track down and take out long time rival Wolf O’Donnell. Without giving to much away, let’s just say that you’ll be left with a smile on your face after each mission.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

The return of toys-to-life

Starlink: Battle for Atlas was developed from day one to include toys-to-life figures with the game. As such, each starter kit comes with one ship, a pilot, a few mountable weapons and a mount to attach to your controller to connect everything. Surprisingly, when attached to your controller you barley even notice it’s there.

However, Ubisoft Toronto knew that not everyone is fond of always having a ship with weapons attached to your controller. Thus, every ship, pilot and weapon you have unlocks their digital counterparts for several days when you first connect them to the controller mount. And, after a few days you can simply re-register them. It’s a pretty neat idea and a cleaver way of overcoming what could have been a common complaint.

After spending a few weeks with the game, I can tell you that you won’t need to worry about the durability of these toys. I’ve spent a good many hours swapping different combinations of weapons with out any problems at all. Each ship can easily handle the constant swapping of pieces as the game encourages.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

Planet-based exploration and space-based dogfights

Starlink: Battle for Atlas is all about exploration and includes seven planets to explore. Each planet is different from the next making each one a unique experience. For those that have played or are familiar with Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky, you’ll see a resemblance in this part of the game’s gameplay.

As you explore each world, you’ll encounter its inhabitants and thus be sent on many different missions that will in turn give you experience and much needed money. The other aspect of gameplay in this game is space combat. I am happy to say that navigating and controlling your ship through the three-dimensional realm of space works flawlessly.

By default, aim assist is enabled. This makes battling multiple enemies a whole heck of a lot easier and the game more accessible. This is where you’ll appreciate the ease of swapping weapons on the fly. Each ship can have two weapons at a team, one on each wing. Mixing and matching weapons until you get the right combination adds an element of strategy to gameplay that never becomes cumbersome.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

Built from the ground up using the Snowdrop engine

Starlink: Battle for Atlas uses Ubisoft’s Snowdrop engine, the same one used in the fantastic Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle mashup. As a result, the game produces some impressive cartoon style visuals across all systems. There are a few times where I noticed a few framerate drops, luckily this doesn’t hamper gameplay at all.

Additionally, the game features a co-op mode. This can activated at anytime and surprisingly the visuals hold up pretty well. On the Nintendo Switch, the original voice actors for the Star Fox characters are present to give them a true authentic feel.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

Starlink: Battle for Atlas is a fantastic new IP from Ubisoft Toronto that I would like to see more of

Starlink: Battle for Atlas is everything I had imagined it to be and more. You can complete the game by just playing the main missions in the neighbourhood of 8 to 10 hours. However, there are plenty of side missions that will keep you busy. The inclusion of Star Fox in the Nintendo Switch version of the game was absolute genius.

I loved the Star Fox specific missions. I felt that Ubisoft Toronto did a fantastic job incorporating the Star Fox team into the game. They never felt as if they were shoe horned in. As I was playing, I couldn’t help but think of all the wonderful places that Ubisoft Toronto could take this incredible new IP in the future.

I feel that the game is well-balanced and makes it great for either kids or adults to enjoy. Although I would have loved to see the inclusion of some sort of online mode, but maybe we will see that in the next installment.

+ Intuitive controls
+ Beautiful cartoon style graphics
+ Fun campaign
+ Inclusion of Star Fox characters in the Switch version
+ Great game for kids and adults to play
+ Toys do not need to be connected all the time to play

– Occasional frame rate drops on the Switch
– No online mode

OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF STARLINK: BATTLE FOR ATLAS

Gameplay: 4.5/5
Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 4/5
Last Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5

Overall Rating 4.3/5 (86%)

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