Team Sonic Racing is the next entry in the Sonic racing game series and successor to the critically acclaimed Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. The game has been teased back in SXSW 2018 and received a reveal trailer at E3 2018.
At Gamescom 2018, I got the opportunity to sit down with Derek Littlewood from Sumo Digital and play the Team Sonic Racing Gamescom demo, and just like you’d expect from a racing and Sonic fan like myself, I had a great time doing so.
Check out the gameplay spotlight, and afterward, we’ll get down to the details.
A New Look at Team Play
Team Sonic Racing is all about team play. We have seen our fair share of team-based racing games this year, with both Onrush and Trailblazers (who stayed in the same booth as Team Sonic Racing) and luckily, Team Sonic Racing plays it differently.
In Team Sonic Racing you play in teams of three, in races with two to four teams. Team play goes far beyond just having all three players finish in the highest place possible, and splits into four main team actions.
The first of these actions is drafting and slingshotting. It’s easy to use, and both very useful and satisfying. Each of your teammates leaves a slipstream that you can drive on to boost. When you exit the trail, it gives you an extra push called a “slingshot” which you can use to switch places with your teammate and let them boost behind you.
Team play also offers you a way to help a struggling teammate – when a teammate has been hit with a wisp or crashed into an obstacle, you can use a Skim Boost to fly past them and give them a handy boost, to get back into the action.
When you grab wisps, which serve as the game’s weapons, you can choose to either use them yourself or pass them to a teammate. This technique is useful since a teammate will receive an enhanced version of the wisp, and so a good tactic might be to pass wisps to your teammates as long as you don’t immediately need them.
The last aspect of Team Sonic Racing’s team play is Team Ultimate. As you perform team actions, you charge an ultimate bar that when unleashed, gives you a powerful boost with a handy offensive ability as well, depending on your character’s class.
Together You’re Sonic Heroes
Team Sonic Racing will have a story mode, which is an element that is new to the Sonic racing series. The story will focus on why our favorite characters are racing each other and will let you play as many of the different characters in the game.
It gets even better – the entire story mode is playable in split-screen co-op, which is something I was very excited to hear. Both my little brother and I are massive Sonic fans, and being able to play together on the same console is something I’m always looking for in a racing game like this one.
But that’s not all, the game will have online multiplayer and ranked modes, which will also be available to play in co-op, both with online friends and in split screen. This feature means that you’ll be able to perfect a strategy with your best friends or family members.
Of course, while playing the story, you’ll need to play the characters in their default teams. If you’re playing a level where you play as Sonic’s team, you’ll only be able to team up with Tails and Knuckles. Outside of story mode, though, you can mix and match your team whichever way you want.
All the Best Characters Are There
I’m looking at you, Big the Cat. Strongest character ever.
Team Sonic Racing has all of our favorite characters, including some that have been out of the spotlight for a while. The Gamescom demo had twelve playable characters: Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles “Tails” Prower, Knuckles the Echidna, Amy Rose, Chao, Big the Cat, Shadow the Hedgehog, Rouge the Bat, E-123 Omega, Silver the Hedgehog, Blaze the Cat and Vector the Crocodile.
I was especially excited to see Blaze the Cat, which is one of the more interesting characters in the series.
The full game will have fifteen playable characters. You’re free to start making guesses, as there are some very notable characters missing from the roster.
The characters divide into four teams, led by Sonic, Shadow, Amy, and Silver. Every team has a member from each of the three classes, Speed, Technique, and Power, each with its strengths and weaknesses.
Team Sonic Racing isn’t about having transforming cars like it’s predecessor. Instead, you have vehicle customization, which lets you set your vehicle up to prepare for your next race. The Gamescom demo did not feature any customization options, but the developers at Sumo Digital explained that they believe it will be just as fun as the transformations in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.
Wisps Are Back
I love the wisps in Sonic games. The little critters from Sonic Colors have become an integral part of the Sonic series’ gameplay and always help in shaking things up.
In Team Sonic Racing wisps play as the weapons that drop from item boxes during a race, much like the item boxes in a Mario Kart game, and just like a good kart game, the race has many of these item boxes lying around.
When you pick up an item box, you will get a random wisp. There are many different kinds of wisps, so it was a bit hard to keep track of them all in the Team Sonic Racing Gamescom demo, but I recognized some iconic colors like Orange Rocket, Yellow Drill, Pink Spikes, and White Boost.
There will be a total of fourteen different wisps in the full game, with wisps coming from many of the different Sonic games, not just from Sonic Colors.
As I have explained earlier, when you first pick up a wisp from item boxes, you get a weaker version, but should you choose to pass the wisp to a teammate, they will receive an enhanced version.
Throwbacks from the Tracks
It isn’t a Sonic game if it doesn’t have a hefty dose of nostalgia, and Team Sonic Racing has it all. You can expect to see familiar locations and hear familiar sounds, which is always lots of fun.
The game will feature 21 tracks set in different familiar locations from Sonic games. These 21 tracks will split into seven worlds, just like many other Sonic games. In the Team Sonic Racing Gamescom demo I got to play three tracks:
Market Street is a remix of Rooftop Run from Sonic Unleashed and offers many twisting paths in the fictional European-style town, Spagonia.
Ice Mountain is a remix of the Sonic Advance zone of the same name, combined with Sonic Unleashed’s Cool Edge, and there you will find ice caves and a large cargo ship.
Finally, we also got to race around Wisp Circuit, based on Planet Wisp from Sonic Colors.
Apart from the familiar tracks, which each had their iconic music remade for Team Sonic Racing, every character also has a nice throwback for us. When using your character’s team ultimate, one of their iconic music themes will play, to scratch even more of that nostalgia itch.
The Team Sonic Racing Gamescom demo left me with a broad smile. I love racing games and the Sonic series, and this entry looks very promising. I already have my eyes locked on the split-screen co-op story and online, and I can’t wait to try all my favorite characters out.
Team Sonic Racing is aiming for Q4 2018 on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch.