Since their dual unveilings at the House of Blues last year, fans have become more and more familiar with Sonic Mania as its now-Summer 2017 launch approaches, all while SEGA has kept mum on the codenamed Project Sonic 2017. Yesterday, the company finally broke their silence on the next main 3D installment in the franchise during the official Sonic panel at SXSW, dropping a ton of new details at the event and even showing off an exclusive first look at proper gameplay.

Takashi Iizuka described the gameplay of the now-titled Sonic Forces as a natural evolution of that of Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, featuring three unique gameplay styles. Series veterans will no doubt feel right at home with the returning high-speed Modern Sonic style—seen in action for the first time above!—and the reconfirmed Classic Sonic style. However, the third unique style in Forces remains a mystery for the time being, though prior reports indicate that it could involve a brand new character in some way.

The panel then touched on the game's technical performance, revealing that Sonic Forces will be running on the "Hedgehog Engine 2." The revamped graphics engine is touted with vast improvements to lighting and physical rendering among other mechanics since it was first used in Sonic Unleashed. As for the story, a wider array of Sonic's friends is confirmed to be returning, such as Knuckles, Amy Rose, and the Chaotix, although in non-playable roles; for example, they will be radioing Sonic as he progresses through the above level, reporting what they're witnessing during the Death Egg Robot Sentinels' attack.

Sound direction for the game is spearheaded by series veteran Tomoya Ohtani, who is also composing the main theme for Sonic Forces. Fans quickly uploaded the instrumental version as it was revealed, and a longer version with vocals is currently in the works. Shun Nakamura of Sonic Team is listed as the game's producer, with previous credits including directing the ill-fated Sonic 2006 and working on the level designs for Unleashed.

Sonic Forces is currently scheduled for release during the holiday season and will be available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Are you looking forward to the next great Sonic adventure? Sound off in the comments below!

Sources: SXSW 2017 (via Tails Channel), GameInformer