Sonic Frontiers is not an RPG, but it does have a skill tree that will let Sonic unlock passive buffs and new skills to help him on his journey. Those skills can increase his attack, defense, and of course, his speed, which will all undoubtedly make Sonic’s job a lot easier.
That said, he doesn’t have to level up. In an interview with Shacknews, Sonic Team chief Takashi Iizuka confirmed you can beat Sonic Frontiers without ever engaging with the game’s RPG-like system.
"Sonic is an action character in an action game–we're not doing a role-playing game for Sonic Frontiers," explained Iizuka. "We did want people to be able to clear the game using only the base skills that you have at island one. If you have the technical skills, the technique, you can beat the game without leveling up or improving or adding anything to your skill tree."
From the sounds of it, Sonic will take a page out of Elden Ring. Sure, it’s possible to beat both games without ever leveling up, but it’ll probably be a lot harder. And besides, according to Iizuka, the goal of Sonic’s skill tree isn’t "just to make the game easier, it's really to also make sure people are going out and exploring the world." Iizuka said that finding "Coco" will allow Sonic to level up, and finding them will mean exploring every corner of each open zone.
With RPG systems and open-world exploration there are some unavoidable comparisons to Breath of the Wild. Elsewhere in the same interview, Iizuka told fans that's not how Sonic Team looks at things.
"From the development [team's] perspective, they're going out and making an action game. They see Breath of the Wild as a role-playing game, it's not similar at all to the action game that they're making," Iizuka added. "You know, there's the same element of freedom that has been applied to Breath of the Wild as a role-playing game, but they're taking the linear high-speed action Sonic game and implementing freedom into there."
Sonic Frontiers arrives November 8.
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