I got to see a lot of fun and interesting things during my time at E3 2017, but easily one of the most unique things that I saw was Starlink: Battle for Atlas. By placing one of Starlink’s ships on your controller, you are able to play with that ship in game. While I have seen toys-to-life used in games before, the way that Starlink is going about it, making the ship customizable and on top of your control, is something totally new to me.
While collecting ships and playing as them seems like it could be fun, the main aspect of Starlink that intrigued me was the ability to customize the ships with any part from any other vessel. You could put an extra set of wings on top of the ones that you already have, or put multiple weapons on either side. You can even change the pilot in each ship, which then changes who you are playing as in the game. I only got to see three ships and their pilots but I expect that there will be many more, which would allow a player to customize their ship to be individual to them.
Once you have your ship built the way you want it, what is the gameplay like? The first part of the gameplay demo started in an all-out dogfight in space. Ships, lasers, and missiles were everywhere. While it looked like Mason, the pilot we were being shown at the time, was going to be victorious, the enemy had flanked our capital ship, the Equinox, and disabled it. This sent out an EMP-like explosion which sent every one of our crew’s ships down to the surface of a planet.
This prompted a very different style of gameplay. Rather than fighting other ships in space I was now seeing land-based fighting against the planet’s creatures, as they tried to attack the weakened and now hovering player’s ship. At one point, multiple enemies were attacking at once, leading to a change in the weapons on the ship. Rather than sticking with a machine gun which didn’t seem to be accurate enough to take out the surplus of enemies, the weapons were swapped out with a flamethrower that quickly did away with them all. I really enjoyed this on-the-fly ability to change weapons and found it to be a very unique way of dealing with different types of enemies.
After searching for a few minutes, the player came across the downed Equinox, but before they could get to it they were attacked by more land-based enemies. Now using a mix of ice rockets and the flamethrower the enemies were quickly frozen and then burned for some extra combo damage. With the enemy defeated the player turned their attention to an energy source that came up on their radar, in the hopes of restoring power to the Equinox. Upon reaching the energy source, we found out that the enemy was using an extractor to pull energy from the planet. Switching to the pilot Judge and his ship, The player then attacked the extractor and its surrounding guards. With the guards defeated all focus was directed towards the extractor, but after dealing to much damage to the extractor a frost giant dropped down to protect it.
In order to deal the most damage to the frost giant, all weapons were switched over to fire type weapons, like fire rockets and machine guns. With the fire weapons equipped, the frost giant took considerably more damage due to his icy disposition. After a minute or two of firing while avoiding its attacks, the frost giant was defeated and we once again returned to attacking the extractor. With no defense left, the extractor was quickly destroyed, and in order to bring the Equinox back online, we stole its energy core. The core had enough power to energize the Equinox and our capital ship was able to sail back into space. To end the demo with a little something special, the last view I saw of Starlink: Battle for Atlas was the player ship seamlessly flying from the planet’s surface to space without any loading screens. What a beautiful sight that was.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas will be out on Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch Fall of 2018.