Review: Starlink Battle for Atlas: PlayStation 4 Starter Edition

  • December 8, 2018
  • James Skemp
  • review

The following is a review of the PlayStation 4 Starter Edition of Starlink, Battle for Atlas, received as part of the Amazon Vine program.

Starter Edition Just Doesn’t Pack Enough Value

I’ll be honest, I was interested in No Man’s Sky, until I heard how many promises they broke as part of the release. However, an open world game where you could explore new worlds and, especially, engage in space combat, really appeals to me.

While I didn’t know much about Starlink: Battle for Atlas before getting it, I looked at a bit of gameplay and the prospective of being able to explore new worlds, and engage in land and space-based combat, certainly looked enjoyable.

And make no mistake, Starlink: Battle for Atlas is pretty dang fun, at least initially. The Starter Edition gives you a character, a ship, and a few weapons for your ship. You can then either connect the whole thing to your PlayStation 4 controller, or, as I soon did, plug it and let it sit off to the side, or not even connect it at all and change things in the menu. The ship and such aren’t too heavy, but I ultimately found it a lot easier to just swap things out in the menu.

You then start of on a single planet before moving your way out to other planets in the system, as you try to find your boss/mentor/leader. Unfortunately, I didn’t too far into the story, due to some of the limitations built into the game. However, exploring the planets was generally fun, only running into arbitrary roadblocks a couple of times before realizing that I wouldn’t be able to fully interact with certain elements until after the story caught up and triggered a tutorial.

Land combat is generally quite nice, and the controls feel responsive. Voice acting too is well done, and the art style is consistent and fine.

However, once you head off into space is where the limitations of the Starter Edition start to become quite apparent, as it’s here that the difficulty picks up a bit and I started dying.

Now dying doesn’t result in too much of a setback, however, if you’re in combat you have the ability to switch to another ship and pilot. How are additional ships and pilots unlocked? By purchasing the DLC or a physical product that contains them. There’s no way to unlock additional pilots/ships by progressing the story or using in-game currency. This also applies to the extra weapons. Don’t have the weapons you need for something? Then perhaps there’s some sort of barrel you can use nearby.

While I was able to get to other planets and keep moving forward, knowing that I would be unable to unlock any other ships/pilots by playing the game felt extremely discouraging. The experience I had at the beginning of the game would be the same I’d have throughout.

While this is fine for most games, it’s quite clear that pushing people to purchase additional ships/pilots - purchasing DLC - was built right into the game as a requirement. And while I looked at purchasing one of the items, the cost-value analysis, at this time, doesn’t make sense.

I’m fine with DLC when it adds more to the story, or is cosmetic, but in this case the initial asking price gets you only a part of the game, and I while I believe you could beat the game with what you get, it would be limited, repetitive, experience.

Unless you’re interested in all the extra physical bits, I would also suggest looking at just purchasing the electronic version of the game. You may actually end up with a better bundle by doing so.

For these reasons I have to give Starlink: Battle for Atlas a neutral three of five stars. I’ll certainly pick it up now and again to work toward finishing it, and will keep my eye open for deals on another ship/pilot, but I’ll sadly be in no rush to do so.