Starlink: Battle for Atlas review: Cool toys, solid spacefaring
Tuesday October 16, 2018. 09:50 PM , from Ars Technica
Enlarge / Shiny. (credit: Ubisoft)
Amid the luminescent, blue-green plants of some once-forgotten world, my sharp red dart of a ship narrowly avoids ambush. Carrying important cargo that is hefty enough to keep my versatile vessel from being able to take off, I’m left with two choices: flee or dump the ballast to turn and fight.
Those who are familiar with 2016’s No Man’s Sky will undoubtedly notice more than a few similarities between it and Starlink: Battle for Atlas, which created the above scene. The visuals in both are consistently bizarre and otherworldly—they are believably alien in a way the last few decades of serialized television haven’t been able to capture. Both games offer just about free rein to fly anywhere and do more or less whatever you will across the vast reaches of space (though Starlink is limited to a single solar system).
The key difference—aside from Starlink’s additional narrative glue (at least compared with No Man’s Sky at launch)—is that it’s a toys-to-life game, much like Disney Infinity or Activision’s Skylanders. Yet despite the contraptions you’ll need to attach to your controller, the game itself is remarkably accessible and surprisingly entertaining regardless of your age.
Starlink’s narrative setup is straightforward: thanks to a genius astrophysicist and an alien that crashed on Earth, humans are now making their first nascent voyages to the stars. But the fuel humans are using for those trips, Nova, is a rare resource. The aliens of the Atlas star system have long since lost the knowledge of how to make the interstellar fuel, leaving them largely trapped near their home planet.
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