Starlink: Battle for Atlas -- Should I Buy Physical or Digital?
Special, Ultimate, Limited, Collector's, it has become increasingly common for new titles to launch with a slew of editions, and players now have to choose how much they want to invest in a game before they even purchase it.
Do I need to spend an extra $10 for a special edition's exclusive weapon, or will the base game do me just fine?
With the addition of toys to Starlink: Battle for Atlas, making that decision is even more important.
If you're wondering "Should I buy physical or digital?", we hope this guide will give you a better sense of what to expect from both options so you can make an informed decision.
Note: The starship and pilot counts in this analysis do not include Switch-exclusive content. Fox and the Arwing are included in both the base physical release as well as the base digital release; Switch owners will have access to this content, at no additional cost, regardless of what option they choose.
While the base experience offered by the physical and digital versions of Starlink are very different, let us first look at what is available if you want the cheapest, most limited access to the game:
For physical editions, you would start with the Starlink: Battle for Atlas Starter Pack, which retails for $75.
This would provide you with the following toys to be used in-game:
- 1 starship (Zenith)
- 1 pilot (Mason Rana)
- 3 weapons (Flamethrower, Frost Barrage, Shredder)
Alternatively, the base digital option is the Starlink: Battle for Atlas Digital Edition for $60.
This would provide you with the following digital items to be used in-game:
- 4 starships (Zenith, Neptune, Pulse, Lance)
- 6 pilots (Mason Rana, Levi McCray, Judge, Chase da Silva, Hunter Hakka, Razor Lemay)
- 12 weapons (Flamethrower, Frost Barrage, Shredder, Iron Fist, Crusher, Shockwave, Levitator, Volcano, Imploder, Freeze Ray Mk.2, Shredder Mk.2, Gauss Gun Mk.2)
Simply, for $15 less, the Digital Edition gives you access to 4 more starships, 6 more pilots, and 9 more weapons than the base physical version.
For comparison, you would need to buy the following physical items to have access to everything from the Digital Edition:
- Starlink: Battle for Atlas Starter Pack ($75)
- Starlink: Battle for Atlas Starship Pack - Pulse ($25)
- Starlink: Battle for Atlas Starship Pack - Neptune ($25)
- Starlink: Battle for Atlas Starship Pack - Lance ($25)
- Starlink: Battle for Atlas Pilot Pack - Razor Lemay ($8)
- Starlink: Battle for Atlas Pilot Pack - Levi McCay ($8)
- Starlink: Battle for Atlas Weapon Pack - Crusher ($10)
- Starlink: Battle for Atlas Weapon Pack - Iron Fist ($10)
- Starlink: Battle for Atlas Weapon Pack - Shockwave ($10)
It costs $196 for physical versions of everything the $60 Digital Edition provides.
To go a step further, if you want access to all of the content currently available in Starlink (5 starships, 9 pilots, and 15 weapons), you could pay $80 for the digital Starlink: Battle for Atlas Deluxe Edition.
To do the same with toys requires you to purchase all of the items listed above plus an additional Starship Pack, two additional Pilot Packs, and one additional Weapon Pack.
It costs $247 for physical versions of everything the $80 Deluxe Edition provides.
With the cost of the Digital Edition being relatively close to the cost of the Deluxe Edition, if you choose to go digital, it makes sense to decide if you will be satisfied with its base experience from the outset.
However, with the physical release, things are further complicated if you want something in between the base and full experience.
The reason is that, unfortunately, Ubisoft has decided not to sell each item individually. Rather, they are bundled in the aforementioned packs.
To elaborate, a majority of pilots are connected to a specific starship and weapon, and a Starship Pack comes with those three items.
This means that if you are interested, for example, in the Pulse starship and the Judge pilot, you cannot simply buy those two items. Instead, you would need to buy the Starship Pack - Pulse and the Starship Pack - Neptune.
That is $50 to acquire only two items you want. You can see how the cost of toys can begin accumulating very quickly.
Aside from the act of mounting toys to your controller, gameplay is identical across the two versions.
However, it is notable that the more weapons and ships you have access to, the easier Starlink becomes.
Attempting to tackle the game with only the physical Starter Pack does not sound like a pleasant experience, and I would not recommend pursuing the harder difficulty settings without at least a few more ships and weapons in your arsenal.
While this is only applicable to the Switch release, it is important to emphasize that playing Starlink with toys is not possible in handheld mode.
Even if you are planning to use the screen's kickstand and a separate controller, the toys do not seem at all conducive to on-the-go play.
For me, eliminating the Switch's mobility is a deal-breaker and immediately puts the kibosh on pursuing the physical version for Nintendo's console.
Putting It All Together
The decision between the physical and digital versions of the game ultimately comes down to what you want out of Starlink.
If you are just interested in playing the game, there is no question that digital provides the most convenient gameplay experience, and it offers much more content with an exponentially smaller investment.
However, if you are a collector that absolutely loves the toys, you have the disposable income to justify the immense cost increase, and you do not mind the challenges playing with them imposes, then go for the physical release.
What version of Starlink are you most interested in and why? Let us know in the comments below.