Sonic Team has been insistent on referring to its upcoming Sonic Frontiers as being “Open Zone” as opposed to open-world, and now director Morio Kishimoto has specifically clarified the differences between the two terms.
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“Level-based platformers often have a world map. Our Open Zone is a world map, only we’ve made it entirely playable,” Kishimoto stated in an interview with IGN. “A playable world map that includes stage-like elements is something that hasn’t really been done before, so we had to come up with a new name.”
Kishimoto went on to explain how Sonic Team landed on the phrase Open Zone: “What is often defined as a World in other level-based platformers is called a Zone in Sonic games, so we took that and combined it with Open, which refers to a freely explorable field. So that’s what Open Zone stands for.”
Kishomoto added that the aim of Sonic Frontiers is to combine this Open Zone approach with “a next-gen level-based platforming experience,” which he says is “what Sonic Frontiers is all about”.
Since the start of this month, Sonic fans have been treated to a bevy of Sonic Frontiers updates, with the game having IGN First coverage slated for the entire month. So far there’s been footage of open exploration and traversal, as well as combat, first impressions, and interviews with the developers.
The in-game footage was initially met with backlash from a lot of fans, however, internal playtests at Sega for the game have reportedly been positive.
On the positive reception from playtesters, Sonic Team creative officer Takashi Iizuka shares that it “makes us believe we need to get this game into the hands of more people so they can play it and feel it and experience what this new format is.”