I think it’s safe to say that if you ever played a Pinball game on any platform, then there is a very good chance it was a Zen Studios Pinball game. They have been producing some of the best virtual Pinball tables since 2007 with the release of Pinball FX.
Fast forward to the present day and Zen Studios has come full circle with their latest release simply titled Pinball FX. This release is not just a visual refresh but rather a complete redesign of its presentation, community-based events, and a complete overhaul of how one can purchase new tables.
Upon boot-up, you will be transported into a beautifully designed Pinball gaming room. In the center, you will see the Pinball table, and on either side of the table a bunch of shelves and wall spaces which will allow you to display the many collectibles you will obtain from playing at various tables. At the top of the screen, you will see the menu ribbon which allows you to navigate from Home, My Tables, Tournaments, Events, Collectibles, and shop.
As you navigate to each tab, the camera will move to display that section in the game room. I love this new streamlined UI compared to their previous Pinball FX3 which just felt a bit too cluttered. Navigating around this new HUB makes your gaming experience feel more personal & unique. If you go into the settings, there’s a customization option that will let you change the color scheme of the room. There are also two graphic settings which are performance and quality.
Pinball FX is running at 4k 60 FPS with HDR support. This bump in performance is instantly noticeable when compared to the previous release. I hopped around multiple tables, some which are returning favorites like the Marvel collection and some new ones like the World War Z.
For the most part, all the tables performed well except for the audio which appears to be unbalanced for many of the tables. For example, when playing the Borderlands tables the audio clips added from the game crackle and are much louder than the table sound effects. I also played around with the multiple camera options and did not encounter any issues so hopefully, they can get these audio bugs squashed out in a patch.
Now you can purchase tables individually or in bundles like in previous releases. However, just like previous releases those purchase tables are only playable on the platform they were purchased on. This has always been a disappointment since many players have some version of Pinball FX not only on a console or PC but also on a mobile device. Since there was no central login account one would have to re-purchase a table on each platform. Now, this could all be a thing of the past with the introduction of Pinball Pass which comes in two flavors.
150 Coins ($14.99) a month
1200 Coins ($99.99) a full year
At first glance, these prices may appear a bit pricey but let’s consider what’s included. You will have access to almost all tables (currently over 80). Zen Studios have stated there are some exclusions such as the Indiana Jones table. The major feature of Pinball Pass is the ability to sign into another platform and play your downloaded tables via the Pinball Pass. However, this feature is currently unavailable at launch so there was no way to confirm that it actually works as advertised. It’s also worth mentioning the mobile and switch version of Pinball FX is currently not available.
Pinball FX like previous releases is still a free download along with the Wild West Rampage table. Also making a return is table trails. You will have about 3 minutes to test out a table and decide if it is worth the purchase. In regards to game modes Pinball FX has
- Flips Challenge
- 1 Ball Challenge
- Time Challenge
- Distance Challenge
Combine the modes with tournaments along with events and one could have countless hours of fun for the low price of free!
Zen Studios have always done a fantastic job modernizing the virtual game of Pinball. Honestly, just looking at the list of game modes would shock any newcomer assuming there was only one way to play Pinball.
However, it is disappointing that the one feature so many returning players have been anticipating which is Pinball Pass cross-platform play is currently unavailable with no ETA. With that said, I will update this review once the feature launches, and if all goes well this could very well be a game-changer for the genre.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Pinball FX for Xbox Series X provided by Zen Studios.