Star Wars Outlaws hands-off preview

Since Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars in 2012, projects like Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars First Assault were scrapped as the House of Mouse focused on its plans for future Star Wars interactive media. Handing exclusive control of Star Wars games to Electronic Arts proved detrimental, with the Star Wars Battlefront reboot and its sequel failing to meet fan expectations. However, Respawn Entertainment’s talented teams delivered successes with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and its sequel, Survivor.

Electronic Arts incapability to produce quality and its controversies led Disney to revive LucasArts into Lucasfilm Games in 2021, handling the entire interactive media segment of the franchise, thus giving other publishers and developers a shot to develop amazing Star Wars games. Ubisoft was one of the first publishers to announce that it was developing a Star Wars game, however, it wasn’t met with general praise, and some were skeptical.

Getting overexcited on games that inevitably fell short has made me learn to keep my guard up. When Jedi: Fallen Order was announced, I was also skeptical. It wasn’t because of Respawn, but Electronic Arts. Surprisingly, after getting my hands on the game, it was one of the best Star Wars games I’ve ever experienced. This made me realize that despite the reputation of certain publishers, the development teams under them could still deliver awesome games.

I’m still on the edge of whether or not Star Wars Outlaws will be a great game. But with Massive Entertainment’s track record and the amazing Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, which I gave a high score in my review, there may be hope that Outlaws will be a great game.

We got the honor to see some exciting gameplay behind the scenes. Massive Entertainment’s Creative Director, Julian Gerighty, gave us a brief overview before showing us some cool gameplay of Star Wars Outlaws. Gerighty shared that the events of Outlaws take place in between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi after the battle of Hoth where the underworld thrives during the civil unrest, giving criminal syndicates rise to power and strengthening their hold in the galaxy. He also briefly discussed Star Wars Outlaw’s gameplay direction and mechanics that define the entirety of what players will expect when playing the game.

Massive showed us three different mission demos, distinctively featuring gameplay elements that Star Wars Outlaws has in store. In the False Flag mission, the demoist started in a corridor inside an Imperial Star Destroyer, we see the player stealthily approach a Stormtrooper and command Nix to distract the guard, giving the player a chance to silently takedown the enemy guard.

When a situation calls for a tag team to take down two enemies simultaneously, the player can command Nix to incapacitate the other enemy while taking down the other. There are terminals to slice to give players an environmental advantage such as activating an evacuation protocol or approving shipments to make the enemies move away from the area so Kay can slip in undetected.

Combat in Outlaws clearly shows the importance of hiding behind covers. It’s not your typical, Call of Duty-esque running and gunning enemies. Massive wants players to experience the actual danger of facing a squad of Imperial Stormtroopers, for which using the environment to the player’s advantage is key to surviving. Kay’s pistols pack a ton of features that give the player the option to change its firing module: Plasma (primary, for damage), Ion (for disabling shields and overcharging droids), and Stun. One of the coolest things was Kay’s ability to slow down time and mark multiple enemies for an instant kill gunslinger shot.

Space battles and exploration clearly show that Massive Entertainment understands the fluidity it needs for ship controls. Dog fights looked exciting as shooting TIE Fighters, even leading them to a ship wreckage with minimal space to turn their speed advantage against them is fun. While the Trailblazer gameplay does showcase what players can do in space, including clearing the notoriety status and basic space combat, entering a planet from space is a sight to behold. You get to see the ship going through the atmosphere, the clouds and directly landing on the spaceport is one thing Massive did right. While it’s obvious the animation serves as a loading screen, it’s still better compared to how Bethesda handled Starfield’s transition from space to planet.

The second mission, The Wreck, showcased platforming elements and puzzle-solving mechanics in a derelict Republic Venator-Class Cruiser. The player went through the ruins of the cruiser, navigating and climbing on walls, clearly defining that it’s inspired by most action-adventure titles, especially from the Star Wars Jedi franchise from Respawn.

The puzzle includes putting power through small generators to open doors, hacking terminals, and combat, this time with the player commanding Nix to lay traps on exploding barrels. We also see the player making a run for the exit as the derelict ship is falling apart, thus also giving us a glimpse of the speeder Kay uses to explore the area before the video ends.

With all I’ve seen from the mission videos Ubisoft shared, Star Wars Outlaws is looking to be an exciting game, with less focus on lightsabers and the Force, and more on the underworld crime syndicate and the life of a scoundrel. Massive’s take isn’t new, and we have seen dozens of games similar to Outlaws, but what makes it different is the world the team has built and I’m eager to get my hands on the game when it comes out this August.

Star Wars Outlaws is launching this August 30, 2024, on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

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