A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Starlink: Battle for Atlas is a sci-fi action/adventure game for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. The game's part of the “toys-to-life” genre, meaning players can buy physical toys that interact with the gaming experience. Players can swap out pilots, ships, and weapons on the physical toys on the fly to change in the game as well. There's also an option to purchase the additional content digitally without requiring the use of the toys. Controls are relatively easy to pick up and play, though there's a lot of interaction with in-game menus when trading out pilots and equipment. Although there's a lot of combat in the game, the violence isn't graphic. Instead, robotic enemies and ships are defeated in flashy explosions.
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What's it about?
STARLINK: BATTLE FOR ATLAS takes place in a future where humanity has set a course to explore the stars, courtesy of the Starlink Initiative and the crew of the starship Equinox. Led by astrophysicist Victor St. Grand, the Initiative is made up of an odd group of elite pilots and specialists. The purpose of the Starlink Initiative isn't only to map the uncharted regions of space, but also investigate an ancient alien race that vanished mysteriously, leaving behind relics that contain powerful technological advances. During one research mission, the Equinox is attacked by a group of alien fanatics known as the Forgotten Legion, with St. Grand taken prisoner. Stranded in the Atlas star system, it’s up to the rest of the Equinox crew to gather resources, build alliances, and investigate their surroundings, as they try to find the Forgotten Legion and stop its dark plans for good. It’s a daunting task, but with the unique Starlink technology at their disposal giving them the ability to instantly swap between pilots, weapons, and even ships, the Equinox crew might just find a way to rescue their leader and save the universe while they’re at it.
Is it any good?
The epic space journey that you experience is incredible, but it comes with a large price tag attached to all of the toys and additional ships for the game. Make no mistake, Starlink: Battle for Atlas isn’t just some way to sell a few cool toys. It’s a full featured sci-fi adventure that’s an absolute blast to play. Over the course of the game, players travel between the seven different worlds of the Atlas system and the vastness of space between them. Each planet feels alive, with lots to explore and discover. And the seamless transition from a planet’s surface to space and back again helps to make the whole thing feel truly epic in scale. The story's entertaining with a diverse group of misfits and the nostalgic feel of an ‘80s cartoon series. It’s just plain fun from start to finish and well worth the price of admission.
Which brings us to the plastic, modular elephant in the room: the toys. By attaching a pilot, ship, and weapons to a special controller mount, players bring the Starlink toys to life in the game. Pieces can be switched out on the fly in any number of configurations to suit the challenges of the game. Of course, there’s a lot of Starlink toys out there to buy, and it’s easy to imagine the overall cost skyrocketing (which it absolutely can). But Ubisoft seems to have learned from the mistakes of other toys-to-life games. For starters, the entire experience can be played with just a starter pack. There are no stages locked behind having to own a specific toy. The other pieces simply add different abilities to the player’s arsenal. Plus, there are options to purchase digital versions of the accessories. In fact, the Digital Deluxe Edition of the game only costs a few dollars more than the physical starter, and includes all of the pilots, ships, and weapons currently available (excluding a couple of retail exclusive repaints). Regardless of how you decide to play, Starlink: Battle for Atlas is still an imaginative trip through a sci-fi playground, and hopefully just the start for this fun and engaging franchise.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about marketing products to kids. How do things like interactive toys, downloadable content, and microtransactions add to the overall cost of a game? What are some ways to plan for these additional costs?
How do customization options in games make for a more personal connection to the game? How can games stoke the imagination and bring out more creativity in kids?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Price: $74.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: UbiSoft
- Release date: October 16, 2018
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Robots, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.