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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

Who doesn't love spaceships? How about toy spaceships with snap-on weaponry? And what if you could play with those creations in a huge space exploration video game?

It's called Starlink: Battle for Atlas, and we got our first look at E3 2017.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Here's one of the first fully functional prototype ships, the Neptune. See those black plastic fins on either wing? (continued)

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Those are proprietary electrical connector ports that allow you to snap on additional pieces, including weapons and wings.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The instant you snap on a new part, it materializes in the game.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Here's the basic idea in GIF form. The PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch each have their own unique controller adapters to keep the ships at your fingertips.

Caption by / Photo by GIF by Sean Hollister/CNET

You can insert a pilot into the ships, too, to unlock special skills like the ability to slow down time. Again, you're looking at one of the functional prototypes here.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Here's a ship and pilot that looks a little bit closer to final.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Once you've got your ship in the game, you'll explore every nook and cranny of a seven-planet solar system. There are no load times or transitions as you fly from space down to the surface of a planet.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Another one of the ship designs. Reminds us of a Star Wars podracer.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

And another.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Really digging this wedge-like starship.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Another look at the Neptune.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

And another. You can mix and match pieces from each of the different sets, even add multiple sets of wings to make your virtual ship beefier.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

You don't actually need to buy the physical toys: parts will be available digitally, and you can share them in co-op with a friend.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The whole game is unlocked even for people who only buy the starter set, says Ubisoft.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The game is set in Atlas, a real-life solar system in the Pleiades, 442 light years away. Ubisoft says it picked Atlas in part because kids can look up and see the Pleiades at night.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The story is about fighting an ancient evil that's sucking life out of Atlas planets with giant chainsaw-like buildings called Extractors.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Different pilots add different special abilities.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Here's the whole working prototype collection of ships, pilots and weapons as of today. There's time to add more: the game arrives in late 2018.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
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