Early tastes of Sonic Frontiers indicated an open-world action game that was far off from a publishable state. But if a seemingly unintentional reveal from Sega is to be believed, it’s due out imminently: November 8, 2022, smack in the middle of the busiest release cadence on the horizon.
Sonic Frontiers, first announced during the 2021 Game Awards, is the blue hedgehog’s first foray into an open-world format. Lonely, expansive fields of grass. Derelict, ancient ruins. Somber music. Frontiers came across as Sonic designed by way of a Breath of a Wild checklist. Initially given a late 2022 release date, previews this summer lambasted how it did not feel like a Sonic game (in other words, no loop-de-loops). The consensus, more or less, was basically: This thing needs a bit more time in the oven. It felt empty, and failed to capture the bravado that defined its predecessors, and made (some of) them such a blast to play.
More time in the oven sure seems to be the last thing Sonic Frontiers is gonna get. The game is set to be one of the headliners for today’s Gamescom Opening Night Live showcase, but ahead of the event, Sega seems to have inadvertently published a Japanese TV spot pegging a November 8, 2022, release date for Sonic Frontiers. As previously confirmed, it’ll come out on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, and PC.
The ad itself was quickly set to private, but not before several unaffiliated accounts grabbed and reuploaded it. It’s brief—just 30 seconds long—but does seem more “like a Sonic game” than previous footage, showing Sonic tearing through natural environments: a forest, a mechanized bridge, the walls of a canyon. At the end of the clip, it culminates with the crunchy guitar so commonly associated with the series, as Sonic ascends a cliff and gazes at a mountain range. (Those BotW comparisons were indeed apt.)
A representative for Sega did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
If the leak turns out to be true, Sonic Frontiers is landing during the busiest release stretch of the year. About a week prior, WB Games will release Gotham Knights, an open-world co-op action game based on DC antiheroes. That’s followed immediately by a new Call of Duty game. Sonic Frontiers itself will share a release date with Skull and Bones, the repeatedly delayed Ubisoft pirate game (née an Assassin’s Creed spinoff), which comes out just one day before Sony publishes the most anticipated game of the year: God of War Ragnarök. And then, of course, ten days later sees the all-but-guaranteed sales juggernaut of the season: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.
Earlier this summer, IGN ran a series of videos exploring more of Sonic Frontiers, including how combat works and what the open-world actually plays like. The series did not help the game’s image. Following a wave of fan backlash—including some calls for Sega to delay the game—Sega’s Takashi Iizuka, who runs Sonic Team, addressed the criticism.
“It’s not really that surprising,” Iizuka told VGC in an interview. “We do realize everyone is just kind of reacting to the videos that they saw, and because they don’t understand what this new gameplay is, they’re kind of comparing it to other games that they already know.”