Star Wars Outlaws

Preview: Star Wars Outlaws

I’ve wanted to experience a Star Wars game with no Jedi or Sith protagonists for years. At one point, 1313, a now famously cancelled game from Disney, was the game I had hoped to see make a splash.

We all know what happened with that.

Now, Ubisoft Massive is stepping up with Star Wars Outlaws, the first open-world game set in a galaxy far, far away. I descended into the basement of the Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles and a cantina on Tattooine.

I spent an hour with the Outlaws, where I learned more about the protagonist, Kay Vess, and the world Ubisoft Massive wants to show players in August.

Be The Scoundrel

Kay and Nix are planning the ultimate heist, for which they need the right resources and crew. To accomplish this, they will travel across the galaxy, exploring iconic and new locations such as Canto Bight, Kijimi, Tatooine, Akiva, and the windswept savannah of Toshara.

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The demo shown after Ubisoft Forward included three slices of the final game. Kay and her loveable companion Nix, a Merqaal, are an inseparable pairing. Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment has done a commendable job bringing the franchise to life, as it is filled with so many familiar elements that I often found myself analyzing every aspect on screen.

The press had access to three demos with a unique slice of gameplay (sadly, no speeders were available), but what we did have access to was a ton of fun.

Outlaws For Life

The first mission featured Kay and Nix working together to escape an Imperial ship. Thanks to the well-tuned controls, you’ll feel like Han Solo within a few minutes (at least in this demo showcase). Blasting Stormtroopers feels wonderful, and you have some variations to deal with, as some enemies are equipped with shields that require Kay to swap between weapons modes to break through those barriers. I ran between a series of hallways before ending in my final destination. The last thing I did was hold off the Empire before my ship was ready for takeoff.

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After a few minutes, Star Wars Outlaws became a dogfighting space simulator as TIE Fighters followed me around. Within minutes, I’d annihilated several enemies chasing my ship through space. I was prompted to find a communications array to stop it from sending a signal revealing my location. Once I found it, I quickly knocked it offline and completed the first demo.

The second demo was probably my favourite of the bunch. This High Republic demo probably felt closest to Uncharted/Tomb Raider with Assassin’s Creed mixed in. There’s a focus on platforming here, and you’ll be happy to know that from what I played, the controls and mechanics are smooth. A lot of what I was doing was timing my jumps to ensure I progressed further into the ship. Overall, it was easily a reminder of how good Ubisoft’s platforming can sometimes be.

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Some of my colleagues I spoke to about their demo sessions seem to like the brisk pace platforming offers. However, I prefer the older Assassin’s Creed style of platforming found in areas like the Basilica di San Marco or those found while completing the glyph puzzles.

The third and final demo focused on Kay’s stealth abilities with help from Nix. Our guide at hand at the event ensured we understood why Nix is an invaluable partner to Kay, and it wasn’t until the third demo that it was made apparent just how important Nix is.

Nix has several abilities to assist Kay. Whenever I saw the little blue circular indicator on the screen, I knew I could count on Nix for help. I took advantage of every opportunity to call upon Nix in the game, as he was adept at distracting enemies and retrieving valuable items. Despite his small size, Nix proved to be a reliable ally in combat, capable of throwing off opponents and fetching health packs.

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You could go in guns blazing, but enemies would quickly gang up on Kay. I spent most of the demo trying to duck into cover and crouch behind walls. I would then move from one area to the next while using melee strikes to knock out enemies before moving into the next section.

My primary goal was to find an artifact and return it to its owner. This meant completing several hacking minigames (which I felt were fun if you understood them) to the Wordle-inspired puzzles you’ll encounter in-game.

My biggest takeaway from the demo session was how excellent Star Wars Outlaws felt to play. Much of what was happening on screen felt seamless, and it was impressive how good it felt to play as Kay. She’s got a “Jack of all Trades” vibe as she goes up against several situations and comes out on top, thanks to her skills and abilities.

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Star Wars Outlaws feels great to play

Most of what we saw was fantastic, but it was disappointing that the open world wasn’t available to experience, even for a short while. What was shown to the press earlier this week feels well received, but I wanted to experience more of the bits that weren’t meticulously gated behind a controlled demo. I wanted to meet and interact with more of the cast and see how well they mesh with Ka and the world of Star Wars.

Overall, I’m now much more likely to be there on day one than before. I had some uncertainties that I was sure wouldn’t be resolved by playing the demo. Not every concern was resolved, but I’m happy with how Kay handles and reacts to the world; I enjoyed the platforming sections, and the stealth sections have potential.

Star Wars Outlaws launches on August 30 for PS5, Xbox Series, and PC.