Nintendo revealed a new Star Fox game for the Wii U in 2014, but wasn’t ready to discuss it in depth. Fast-forward to E3 2015 and the publisher officially pulled back the virtual curtain on Star Fox Zero, arriving later this holiday. Familiar heroes Fox McCloud, Peppy, Falco and Slippy return to save the Lylat System in an all-new chapter in the celebrated franchise, which is neither a prequel nor sequel to prior entries.  As we learned, the game presents a mixture of both old and new elements that’ll result in one of the coolest shooters on Nintendo’s console. 

Upon first glance, Star Fox Zero bears a resemblance to its predecessors. Not only do you pilot the familiar Arwing and pull off barrel rolls, but you’ll also fly beneath arches, collect power-ups and team up with Fox’s computer-controlled companions to defeat bosses. 

How you play is what separates this game from the rest. Nintendo wants you to use both the GamePad and television screen at the same time. The former puts you inside the Arwing cockpit, allowing you to focus on different targets. The latter, meanwhile, displays a cinematic perspective from other Star Fox games. Of course, given Nintendo’s commitment to creating games for players of different ages and skill levels, you’re free to view the action from one screen if you prefer.

Next up, controls. Nintendo designed the Arwing to feel like a real aircraft, with players using both the left and right control sticks to pilot the vehicle, instead of going with a traditional setup where the right stick only controls the camera. The idea here is to pull off evasive maneuvers, including a U-turn and Barrel Roll without pressing buttons. Meanwhile, you tap one button to fire all of the game’s weapons. Don’t panic if this doesn’t sound ideal. We’re willing to bet Nintendo will include multiple control options. 

Then we have transformations, one of Star Fox Zero’s central themes. Similar to Star Fox Assault for GameCube, you’re able to control the Landmaster Battle Tank, but also new additions like the Walker (think of it as a mechanical chicken) and a drone referred to as the Gyro Wing.  Transformations occur seamlessly by pressing the A button, and Nintendo encourages you to use different vehicles in the same level not only to experience the action from new vantage points, but also uncover secrets. For example, the Gyro Wing and Walker fit into tight spaces, allowing you to find things impossible to obtain while in the Arwing. And while most Star Fox games are on-rails, you can alternate between the traditional perspective and All-range Mode, which lets you explore stages in 360 degrees. 

Meanwhile, this should be the most cinematic Star Fox game in history. Yes, the graphics look outstanding, but Nintendo also rehired the original Star Fox 64 voice actors to reprise their roles. You’ll even hear the chatter from the Wii U GamePad speaker. 

We’ll learn new details about Star Fox Zero in the coming weeks and months, but so far, this is exactly what we wanted, a game that returns to the series’ roots while at the same time delivering something new. We’ll have more on this Wii U shooter very soon. 

Of course, you can see Star Fox Zero in action right now!