Pinball FX review for Xbox Series X, PS5, PC

Platform: Xbox Series X
Also On: PS5, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

Regardless of how much you love pinball it can be a little tough to pull the trigger on purchasing your own machine for home use. Even for classic titles from the late ’80s and ’90s you?ll likely be spending a couple grand or more on a good, working unit. More modern tables, largely produced by manufacturers like Stern, Spooky Pinball, and so on, will cost you even more. Along with that, there?s a certain level of upkeep and maintenance required, which can be a bit daunting for the less mechanically inclined out there. Considering this, it?s easy to understand the appeal of a good, virtual pinball experience, which is exactly what Pinball FX has set out to deliver here. 

Zen Studios is no stranger to virtual pinball. They started off predominantly creating their own, non-licensed titles, and expanded out to create new tables based off of properties like Marvel and Star Wars. Pinball FX 3, the release prior to this, also introduced the Williams license, giving Zen the ability to recreate physical pinball tables like Attack from Mars and Funhouse. For me, it?s that Williams license that draws me in, but there?s a number of nice surprises in the Zen-created tables as well. 

At launch, there?s over 80 tables available, and Zen plans to have 120 available by summer. There?s a lot of tables that?ll be familiar to Pinball FX 3 players, but all of the returning tables have been remastered for modern consoles, running in 4K HDR, and look fantastic from what I?ve seen on Xbox Series X. There?s also plenty of new tables available on consoles for the first time, including original Zen Studio tables like Grimm Tales, along with new licensed tables such as Dreamworks Trolls, and new Williams tables like Bride of Pin-Bot and World Cup Soccer. I?ve had the opportunity to play through every new table available, and found myself surprisingly enamored with games like How to Train Your Dragon despite having no real affinity for the license. You can?t go wrong regardless of which table catches your eye, which is great to see.

Unfortunately, if you are coming over to Pinball FX from Pinball FX 3, you?ll be disappointed to see that none of your prior purchases carry over. I can absolutely understand that being a dealbreaker for people, especially if you?ve kept up with purchasing tables over the years. Zen has stated they are working on a program to offer tables at a discounted price in the near future for returning players, but so far there?s been no date given on when that?ll happen. That said, if you weren?t super invested in Pinball FX 3, or are just checking out Pinball FX in general for the first time, you?ve got a lot of options available on how to play the multitude of tables available. 

First up is the Pinball Pass, a monthly or yearly subscription plan that gives you access to almost every table available, minus Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure and the Marvel Pinball tables. Even with those exclusions you?ll have access to 75 tables via the Pass which is a pretty huge amount. We can argue on the value here for sure, and depending on how much pinball you plan on playing every week you might find $15 a month tough to swallow along with every other subscription service out there, but you can also still purchase the tables you want outside of the pass and permanently add them to your collection. Pricing appears to be in line with Pinball FX 3 as well, so not too much sticker shock there. 

In addition to just playing the pinball tables you?ve purchased, you can also engage in player created tournaments for all tables, with options to set tournament difficulties, and special gimmicks like a limited number of flipper uses, one ball challenges, and time limits. You can limit the number of players per tournament, how long the tourney lasts, and whether you want tourney access to be open or private. Also, there are a number of events that pour into the season mode of Pinball FX, which will grant you new profile pictures, frames and so on. 

Overall, I?ve really enjoyed my time with Pinball FX and can definitely see myself continuing to play down the road. I?m excited to see what tables are coming next, and as a casual pinball player I?d say the physics here feel pretty great on current-gen consoles. Also, you can give it a try for free, as the base download will grant you one free table. If you complete the tutorial mode, you?ll also get a free 24hr Pinball Pass that?ll allow you to download and try out every table available, so you can really decide for yourself if the latest iteration of Pinball FX is for you. 

Note: Zen Studios provided us with codes for Marvel Pinball, Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure, Gearbox Pinball pack, and 1200 points for Pinball FX for review purposes.

Grade: A