'Starlink: Battle for Atlas' Hands-On Impressions: Deep, Fun and Toys Are Great

One of the most welcome surprises at E3 2018 was Starlink: Battle for Atlas , a new action-adventure game from Ubisoft that brings space battles in an open-world with a toys-for-life element. After a brief demo in NYC, here are my impressions on the game and its toy-for-life elements.

TOYS ARE NOT JUST FOR SHOW

The hook of Starlink is the way it implements its toys-for-life into the game. At the demo, the Ubisoft representatives had a collection of the various pilots, ships and weapons used in the game and showed me how they worked.

You first choose a pilot, each with their own special abilities (the pilot shown to me was Mason who can call in an airstrike) and then a ship and the weapons you can use.

star_link_toys_04 arwing
The Arwing sits easily on the Nintendo Switch controller Player.One

The above apparatus connects to the top of the Nintendo Switch controller, and I was impressed how easily you can add and take off weapons. There's no struggling to change the weapons and the ship instantly changes when you switch the various parts.

While flying around I could add a cannon to the ship and it would appear instantly on the screen. The game pauses if you take off a part, so you can take a second in battle to compose yourself. I was told you can turn the auto-pause off in the settings but it seems very necessary, especially when you're in the middle of a fight.

Another cool aspect was how much variety there was for both pilots and ships. You can use a bulky ship that can take more damage than others, or a sleek smaller ship so you can fly faster and evade better. The Starlink experience is all up to the player and caters to a number of playstyles.

star_link_toys_03
The various ships and pilots in 'Starlink: Battle for Atlas' Player.One

OPEN WORLD/BATTLING

Before I started the Starlink demo, the Ubisoft representative explained that the amount of demo time is only a fraction of what you can do. Starlink is an open world title that allows players to fly through space and visit planets. It reminded me of No Man's Sky in its presentation with its vast and endless space. I can easily see myself flying around and ignoring any missions given to me.

starlink space
You can get lost exploring space in 'Starlink: Battle for Atlas' Ubisoft/Nintendo

As for battling, it's pretty simple. You can have the ship do a short hop when you're grounded, which helps in avoiding shockwaves, and do barrel rolls. Your weapons are linked to the left and right triggers, and the projectiles offered are varied. There were ice missiles, a flamethrower (with short range) and a weapon that shot this miniature black hole. I was even able to combine weapons in battle to do more damage. One combination I got to pull off was the black hole weapon with the flamethrower, which created a fire vortex that would obliterate any foe.

The different weapons come in handy when you come face-to-face with different enemies. I got to shoot down these normal looking enemies with the ice missiles, but then the same enemies that were covered in ice appeared and my attacks had no effect. I switched to the flamethrower and took them down with ease. This is where changing weapons on-the-fly really came in handy.

Although I had only a short time with Starlink, I could see the depth of the gameplay and the environments and models look really good. The toy aspect of the game works very well and is more crucial to gameplay than an amiibo or other similar toy. I was definitely impressed and look forward to spending more time with the game.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas will release for PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch on Oct. 16.

'Starlink: Battle for Atlas' Hands-On Impressions: Deep, Fun and Toys Are Great | Gaming