I will never get sick of playing flight-based games, especially where the vast reaches of space are concerned. Starlink: Battle For Atlas is the newest family-friendly flight game on Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. To get the most out of this game with the additional Star Fox content, I am reviewing this game on the Nintendo Switch.
Starlink is predominately a ‘toys-to-life’ game. For those who don’t know what this is, ‘toys-to-life’ is a genre of games where real world physical toys and figures are used to play in the game world. The toys aspect of Starlink is an unfortunate one and it’s not just because of the money that needs to be spent to fully complete the game. Ubisoft also released digital versions of the game where all weapons and ships are unlocked from the get-go. This not only causes issues where digital buyers are better off than physical ones, but it also makes the ‘toys-to-life’ aspect completely unnecessary. While digital players can change weapons and ships quickly and easily, physical users need to take toys apart and put them back together again which really impacts the gameplay flow if you are mid-battle.
It is a gorgeous game. The graphical style isn’t all too different from No Man’s Sky. All of the planets feel unique with their color schemes, wildlife and terrain. The game looks amazing as you create ripples on the surface of water as you fly above it or when you can see a panoramic view of the horizon with the sun shining down. When in space however, travel can seem very arduous and long due to there not being much to see but your destination crawling ever closer towards you.
Where Starlink differs from No Mans Sky is in its size. Starlink features one galaxy with a handful of planets to explore, but it is better off for it. This game doesn’t outstay its welcome by trying to be gargantuan, each planet will take ages to fully explore and document so having more would be overkill. The ‘alliance tracker’ feature that begins later in then game makes the game a constant turf war against the Legion, displayed by a progress bar beside each planet. You want to aim to keep as many allies on each planet as possible while suppressing Legion alliances to keep them at bay.
“Starlink: Battle For Atlas feels like a Star Fox game with an added support cast”
Starlink’s controls are very simple. You’ve got your general movement with the analogue sticks, a boost/dodge button and your triggers to fire. However these simple controls are paired with a very basic manoeuvring system. You won’t find any of the impossibly fast and tricky dogfights that some other games offer here but the combat is still fun. When in flight mode inside a planet’s atmosphere however I found it impossible to steer my ship and boost at the same time due to the placement of the boost button which is a bit of a shame.
The main plot in Starlink: Battle For Atlas is a pretty generic ‘take over the galaxy’ one. The main villain Grax looks cool but doesn’t quite hit the mark that Wolf O’Donnell hits in the Star Fox story on the Nintendo Switch version. If you play as Fox McCloud in this game you’ll find that, cutscenes aside, Strarlink: Battle For Atlas feels like a Star Fox game with an added support cast. The classic team of anthropomorphic animals are handled with care and respect and they’re a serious positive feature of this game.
Starlink: Battle For Atlas features tons of side-missions and other things to do. The problem is that these missions really only come in about five variations. Fully completing a planet and all of it’s missions can be addictive but also very repetitive and can start to feel like a slog. Some of these missions, spires in particular, require a certain weapon type to complete. This once again is detrimental to physical buyers who have to then go to the shop and buy an ice weapon or a gravity weapon to complete a simple puzzle where digital buyers can just swap weapons in the menu without the hassle or cost.
The boss battles and enemy bases in Starlink: Battle For Atlas are really good fun. I actually found that the game can be quite difficult if you aren’t leveled up enough to take them on and I’ve been blown into deep space many times by a fleet of raiders defending their ship. The map in Starlink is divided up and labeled on their difficulties so you can easily see when you’re going to be heading out of your level of ability.
Overall, I’ve had a great time with Starlink: Battle For Atlas. The combat is fast paced and explosive and it just looks an absolute treat both on the Nintendo Switch screen and docked on the TV. There is definitely lots to see and do in this huge yet compact galaxy and I will certainly continue to put many hours into this game seeing all there is to see and battling all manner of monsters and ships.
Thanks to Ubisoft for providing us with a review copy of Starlink: Battle For Atlas for the Nintendo Switch.