New 3D Sonic Game Is Open World… Or Is It?

Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik (Eggman) in the Sonic the Hedgehog movie

Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik (Eggman) in the Sonic the Hedgehog movie

Fans of the legendary franchise Sonic the Hedgehog are waiting in anticipation for the newest Sonic Frontiers. With the new game being the first 3D Sonic game since Sonic Forces was released in 2017, many were excited to see that the new game would be Open World.


Not so fast though, Sega isn’t calling it an open-world video game, but rather an Open Zone. What’s the difference you ask? According to director Morio Kishimoto, Open Zone is, “a world map, only we’ve made it entirely playable. 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.”

Essentially, Kishimoto is saying that although the game still has strict guidelines and areas for you to play, you will still be able to explore, wander and somewhat interact with the entire world map. Essentially the game will be similar to that of Super Mario Bros, which introduced an albeit smaller, world map for players to explore. “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,” Kishimoto said.

This new Open Zone format also revolutionizes combat within the game. While previous Sonic games lowered the emphasis on combat, the new level design within Frontiers will allow combat to flow better, giving players more freedom on attacks and actually implementing skills within the game. Kishimoto also emphasized that the new game will be harder and will constantly test the player, which requires the introduction of a skill tree. “While this might be unusual for a level-based platformer, we decided to implement a skill tree and the ability to level Sonic up,” said Kishimoto.

Sonic Frontiers is expected to release sometime this winter on all platforms.

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