Piecing together Ubisoft’s debut toys-to-life game, ‘Starlink: Battle for Atlas’

The toys-to-life genre may very well be past its glory days, with Disney Infinity gone and Skylanders taking a year off for the first time, but that doesn’t mean that developers will stop trying to make the next big hit in potential-filled genre. At E3 2017, Starlink: Battle for Atlas, a different kind of toys-to-life game than recent attempts, became Ubisoft’s most interesting surprise reveal.

Developed by Ubisoft Toronto, Starlink is quite a delineation from the studio’s previous work, which includes the Far Cry Assassin’s Creed, and Watch Dogs franchises, among others. Nevertheless, the premise of Starlink is novel, and based on the little bit we’ve seen so far, Starlink could reinvigorate a genre on the decline. Here’s everything we know about Starlink: Battle for Atlas so far.

A grand space adventure

From the reveal trailer we know that “Nova” brought Starlink to the Atlas Star System, a wondrous area of space with seven large planets. What Starlink didn’t know was that a foreboding evil called “Legion” threatens Atlas, and it’s Starlink’s job to take Legion out once and for all. The trailer shows enemies deployed by Legion called “extractors” which wield hulking weapons and giant shields. Other creatures, who may or may not be friendly, inhabit the planets. There’s even animals that appear to be dinosaurs roaming the land (weird, right?).

Players have the opportunity to explore each of the seven unique planets, as well as open space when rocketing from planet to planet. According to Ubisoft, the star system will “evolve” in response to your actions. All combat and exploration, as shown so far, will be done inside your ships. From the trailer, though, the ships can basically scrape planet surfaces, so expect to spend as much time close to ground as you do up in the stars.

Attachable ships

As a toys-to-life game, Starlink lets players attach toy ships to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch controllers. As of now, there’s four primary ships, each with their own unique abilities. What’s most interesting about the ships, though (besides the fact that they are toys that attach to your controller), is that the parts and pilot can be swapped around to your liking. That includes setting your guns to shoot backwards, flipping the wings around, or basically making a ship that theoretically shouldn’t be able to fly.

As Starlink producer Matt Rose told CNET, “We never want to tell kids they’re being creative wrong.” When you make a change to your ship, however absurd the alteration, your modifications are instantly reflected on screen.

starlink battle for atlas roundup

While it’s unclear how many additional ships will be sold beyond the four shown above, Rose claimed that unlike other toys-to-life games, nothing in the game will be restricted for those who just buy the starter pack. He also told CNET that he thinks players will “achieve” the entire collection, and that Ubisoft doesn’t want to release additional ships that don’t offer something not found in existing ships.

The toy ships aren’t required

While many will certainly enjoy the feeling of mixing and matching ship parts in real life to change the ship’s appearance on screen, you won’t have to play with the ships attached to your controller if you don’t want to. All ships will be available digitally as well, meaning that players can simply alter their ship’s structure in the game.

Better on Switch

At this point, it’s hard to say how the game will play on PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, but based on the premise, Starlink appears to be in development with the Nintendo Switch in mind. Thanks to the Switch’s unique hardware, the ship dock peripheral slides right into the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers.

starlink battle for atlas roundup switch controller

There’s also the fact that the Switch version can be played on the go. And unless the game somehow gets a major overhaul graphically before launch, there’s no reason to believe that Starlink will look any better on the more powerful Xbox One and PS4 consoles.

Two ships are better than one

When Starlink launches, you can link up with a friend in split-screen multiplayer to take out Legion forces together. Ubisoft hasn’t revealed if Starlink will have online modes, or competitive multiplayer. Still, given that you don’t need to have the peripheral attached to play Starlink, at least you can easily play some couch co-op without paying for a second dock.

When can you start tinkering with your ships?

Starlink: Battle for Atlas is slated for fall 2018 for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Ubisoft has yet to announce pricing for the starter pack or for additional ships.

Movies & TV

The ‘Toy Story 4’ teaser trailer is here to fork with your emotions

Disney released the first teaser trailer for its latest addition to the Toy Story franchise. The quick glimpse of what's to come shows all our favorite toys back in action, as well as a strange -- and seemingly unhinged -- new character.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Smart Home

Amazon sends out physical toy catalog for kids of all ages this holiday season

Amazon confirmed it is shipping a printed holiday toy catalog, "A Holiday of Play," to millions of customers starting in November. The 68-page catalog has QR codes for many toys. A downloadable version links to each product on Amazon.
Gaming

From new fighters to DLC, here's all we know about 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lands on Nintendo Switch on December 7. We've compiled everything you need to know about the upcoming brawler in one easy to read place, from the massive roster and stage list to new gameplay mechanics and more.
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for November 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles as well as bundles that feature games like Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Gaming

Got an NES Classic? Here’s how to hack it to play more than 700 games

The NES Classic is terrific for what it is, but Nintendo's discontinued device remains limited in what it can play. Here's how to hack your miniature console and render it compatible with more than 700 games.
Gaming

‘Fallout 76’ day one patch is 52 GB, bigger than the 45 GB game

Fallout 76 is a 45 GB download, but its day one patch is even bigger at a hefty 52 GB. The contents of the patch remain unknown, but it will likely incorporate feedback from the game's beta testers.
Gaming

Fired Treyarch tester spills ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Zombies’ secrets

A former Treyarch employee revealed numerous Call of Duty: Blacks Ops 4 Zombies secrets. Among the unraveled mysteries were the Viking Boat puzzle in IX and the purpose of the Engine Room valves in Voyage of Despair.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.
Mobile

Get your gaming on the go with this list of the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else.
Gaming

Sony could be working on a screen-equipped PlayStation controller

A patent recently granted to Sony seems to point to the company creating a controller with a touchscreen. The patent was filed in 2017 and granted in October 2018, which could mean it is planned for the next PlayStation.
Gaming

Xbox gaming chief has sights set on improving Microsoft Store experience

Xbox chief Phil Spencer acknowledged that the Microsoft Store still has a ways to go to become a solid platform for PC gamers. Microsoft promised to work toward improving the frequently buggy experience with gamers in mind.
Gaming

The plug-and-play PC Classic joins the retro console bandwagon

Gaming company Unit-e is creating the PC Classic, a plug-and-play retro console that will come bundled with around 30 of the best DOS games. The system will support gamepads and keyboard setups.
Gaming

Everyone’s favorite Pokémon turns gumshoe in ‘Detective Pikachu’ trailer

The first Detective Pikachu trailer has arrived, and it looks like a video game movie could actually be good? Voiced by Ryan Reynolds, Pikachu is undeniably cute in what is shaping up to be a family-friendly buddy comedy.