wasabiicecream's Starlink: Battle for Atlas (Nintendo Switch) review

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Starlink: Atlas Rises?

Ubisoft's take at a No Man's Sky, but it's a Third-Person Shooter, where you can never get out of the ship. The game controls as such too, which took me some getting used-to, because I expected proper flight controls, but you actually move and strafe with the left stick, and look with the right stick. You boost and "jump" with the A button and B button, which forces you to hold the controller like an asshole if you want to change direction at the same time. They don't let you rebind the controls at all.

The game encourages you to adapt to certain enemies and situations by swapping out your ship parts and weapons, but I found it very annoying to halt the action, pause the game, go into the menu, and swap my gear every time I ran into something that required it. I can't imagine actually using the toys to do this, especially when you can't see what all of the stats are at a glance. Just settle on using opposing elements, and you'll be fine most of the time. I'm not sure how much things expand late-game, but my first 20 hours were a major drag. There's only ~6 mission types, and even then, really only 3 (shooting stuff, scanning stuff, or delivering stuff). Super repetitive. There were a small amount of missions that mixed things up with some light platforming, and there are also Spires which serve as light puzzles. The game's scenery looks great, and each planet has unique biomes; desert areas, forested areas, swampy regions, freezing cold and bubbling hot bogs, with its own flora and fauna, but even with the relatively short amount of time I've put in, I started seeing the same buildings and structures over and over again, even with loot placed in the same exact spot (Literally, the exact spot every time). The game constantly shows a temperature meter in the UI, but doesn't change as you explore a planet, only when you touch an elemental hazard. The planets also don't seem to have a day/night cycle, which was explained on the planet "Haven" by a Spire halting the planet's rotation.

Do yourself a favor, and crank the game to the highest difficulty, because it's braindead easy on Normal. I had 1.5 million of the game's currency before leaving the first planet, and it only costs 30,000 to respawn if you die, with no other penalties. Almost completely maxed out my upgrades on the 2nd planet, but I think if you have all the DLC (Which I did), it vastly expedites this process. One of the things I didn't realize was how much the DLC (The toys) actually matters, and since I started the game with all of it, I don't fully know right now. Elemental weaponry matters A LOT. Most of the game's loot and upgrades are gated by what type of elemental weaponry you have, or what pilots you have, and their levels. You won't be able to open a Fire lootbox without shooting it with an Ice weapon, or an Ice elemental enemy will be weak to Fire damage, or certain upgrades will require a certain amount of pilot levels, made easier by owning more pilots. I don't know how much of a problem this is without paying more money for the DLC, or physical toys. I'm thinking about starting a new game without the DLC to see for myself.

Either way, Starlink is a fun game when you're not thinking about it at all. Load up your favorite podcast, mute the game, and enjoy.

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