Pinball FX3 Williams Pinball Vol. 1 review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, Switch, PC
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

I was real bummed when I heard that The Pinball Arcade developer Farsight Studios was losing the Bally/Williams license a few months back. I hadn?t invested a ton of money into that platform, but I had certainly spent enough, and liked revisiting those tables occasionally. The element I most loved was being surprised by a new table that I had never played or never heard of. My local access to real-world pinball is virtually non-existent, so The Pinball Arcade was really the only way for me to experience those machines, even if it was just a digital format. Also, I thought Farsight did a pretty solid job. There were issues, certainly, but by and large these seemed to be good virtual renditions of the real thing. So, when hearing that the license was going away, I grabbed a handful of other tables before they disappeared and just sort of figured that would be the end of it.

It never crossed my mind to think that Zen Studios would pick this license up. I was familiar with the Zen Pinball/Pinball FX series, and had played a number of their tables on various platforms. However, they?ve always been developed from the ground up, not based on real pinball tables, so I was certainly surprised when the announcement was made that they were picking up the license for that Farsight had lost. I also had a hefty amount of skepticism regarding the announcement, since Zen?s pinball physics were very different from both The Pinball Arcade and real pinball tables in general.

I?m happy to say that this initial release of Fish Tales, The Getaway: High Speed II, Medieval Madness, and Junk Yard has managed to really dispel any doubts that I had going in. All 4 are pretty great tables in general, a good slice of representation from Williams history, and have all been handled with care. Yes, there are unfortunate edits done to the artwork of Fish Tales, but otherwise I think Zen Studios has done good work out of the gate. The new real-world physics model they?ve worked on for these tables specifically feels great, with a suitable amount of ball heft and speed that feel damn close to the real thing. Table lighting is fantastic, perhaps better than The Pinball Arcade in that regard. And you get these tables wrapped up in what feels like a more substantial shell with Pinball FX3, which houses various leaderboards, tournament modes, local hotseat multiplayer and more. I?m not big on the added visual effects for these tables, like score pop-ups, but I?m happy that the feature can be easily disabled.

It’s also nice to see Fish Tales as the free introductory table with this release pack. If you want to see how Zen Studios handled these real-world tables, you can download Fish Tales for free and give it a go. It?s a pretty solid introductory table in general, with easy to understand features for newer players. I also appreciate the large variety of camera modes included with all tables, making it easy to find a view that works for you.

Across all 4 tables I never ran into any significant issues, either with graphics, physics or framerate. Everything plays smoothly, loads quickly, and I appreciate the sense of progression you get from playing these tables within the shell of Pinball FX3. All the little experience gains and unlocks add to the experience, but aren?t necessary to pay attention to if you?re just coming at this for the pure pinball experience. I?d wholeheartedly say that the license is in good hands with Zen Studios, and look forward to future table releases down the road.

Note: Zen Studios provided us with a Williams Pack Vol. 1 PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A