Linking video game franchises with toy lines is pretty much in the realm of the familiar for most folks. The idea of using toys to directly interact with a video game or computer program is something that no modern techie will ever be surprised of.
Despite that, Starlink: Battle for Atlas still managed to give people the raised eyebrow over its introduction. Brushing aside the video game itself, is this toy from Ubisoft some sort of hybrid promotion collaboration? Microtransactions in physical form? Or is it a new innovation that might just set the next standard in toy-video game concepts over the next few years?
Customization in Your Hands
Amiibos and Skylanders figures mostly function as identification or verification media for certain unlockable stuff such as characters and abilities. Starlink however, takes a step in a different direction, crafting each separate component of the game’s feature spacecraft as the identification media. This then allows the player to physically customize their own version of the completed vehicle using all available components.
What this means is that users can directly see the changes as they play the game’s missions, or at its various selection menus. Take a part off, and off it virtually goes, put another part, and you’ll immediately see your virtual spacecraft take the form of what has been added.
Of course, the components aren’t just for show. The added components provide other combat options for the player. Shooting parts, for instance, change the properties of the vehicle’s shots, either adding new abilities or straight up changing the way it fires or works on targets.
Too Unwieldy for Gaming?
Everyone who has ever seen Starlink‘s tech demos throughout the web share one common complaint: the controllers can become hard to use. Indeed, putting the entire toy on top of the controller does make it seem kinda wonky. Not just due to the added weight, but it can also be an obstruction, both visually and mechanically.
To be fair, however, it being the most obvious flaw wouldn’t have passed testing if they are not designed to be easy to carry. Which is why it is most probable that these toys are meant to be held via the controllers for a significant amount of time. In that regard, the problem would then be the quality of the components, which doesn’t really seem to be an issue based on the various tech demos already presented.
Besides, think about this. You are literally controlling the ship you are holding within a virtual environment. That’s something your kid version’s imagination would probably just marvel at.
Unfair Addition or Optional Supplement
Developers at Ubisoft clearly stated that Starlink can be cleared without the use of add-ons. The statements in its demos already prove that. However, the issue of balance and availability is still one matter that could affect the technological feasibility of this concept.
After all, if the components prove too compulsory to enjoy, it might lead to severe balancing issues for players. This is especially true for those who do not wish to buy each and every product available. These issues would affect the reception for such products, possibly halting its development and evolution.
As much as a formed concept Starlink already is, its core idea still has a lot of room for innovation. In fact, it is literally on the cusp of sparking something new in toys and video games. To give people an idea, think strategy games and trading card games. Imagine the sort of toys and hobbies that, when given virtual or digital access, could free players from the continued use of the console controller (or PC keyboard), which has been the default thing for decades already.
For now though, the components seem to lean more towards being an optional supplement. Most of the add-ons typically only change the nature of the vehicle’s attacks, akin to switching playstyles without directly modifying values. As time goes on, however, its players would witness whether the idea would evolve, or be shelved forever as just another marketing gimmick.
As for the No Man’s Sky-esque vibes of the game itself, we’ll let the video game community discuss and consider its finer points…