Star Wars Outlaws lets you be the best kind of scoundrel

Posted on June 11, 2024

It’s been exciting to see Star Wars branch out more over the years with different stories highlighting underrated or even brand-new characters across various TV shows and video games. While Star Wars Jedi gave us a high-quality action souls-like to sink our teeth into, Ubisoft is bringing their trademark open-world chops to Star Wars Outlaws, playing as yet another new character in the expansive universe.

Billed as the first truly open-world Star Wars game ever made, we had the opportunity to check out three missions from Star Wars Outlaws hands-off, thanks to Ubisoft ANZ. If it can stick the landing, it could end up being one of the most thrilling games from the sci-fi universe that we’ve seen so far.

Newcomer Kay Vess instantly comes across as a likable scoundrel who you want to root for. Not a Jedi, or really somebody with any special superpowers to talk about, her style is scrappy at best, which gives the impression that you’ll often be encountering overwhelming odds of stormtroopers and other enemies as you navigate the complex galaxy. While she doesn’t have the Force, Kay is adept in her blaster, which has three modules; Plasma, for primary damage; Ion, effective for disabling shields or overcharging droids, and Stun, which can take out regular enemies in one hit but has a lengthy cooldown. An ability was shown that has you slowing down time, marking multiple enemies and then releasing to take them all out at once; not a new idea, but satisfying none-the-less.

“…Kay Vess instantly comes across as a likable scoundrel who you want to root for.”

Of course, you won’t be doing it alone; adorable alien creature Nix is on hand to support you on your missions. The first mission we saw, False Flag, begins with you fighting Imperial forces on a space station. We can see the cutie helps in surveying the scene, fetching items and weapons for Kay, or even causing distractions and fighting alongside you. Initially, we saw Nix play dead nearby a foe to grab their confused attention, allowing for a stealthy takedown from Kay. In another scene, Nix literally jumps onto an enemy’s shoulders to stop them from shooting.

I’m curious to see just how many options Nix has for fun and chaos; while we only saw a couple of missions, it seems there will be many ways to tackle each of them, whether it’s a stealthy approach or all-guns-blazing. Ubisoft has proven successful in building large playgrounds to mess around in, and Star Wars Outlaws looks to be no exception.

At the mission end, a smooth transition has you piloting a Trailblazer through the stars to take on TIE fighters. Moving from stealth to hacking, to gun-based combat on the ground before swiftly shifting to dogfighting seemed like a very smooth and seamless transition, making the galaxy feel interconnected. I’m not a big fan of dogfighting in space at the best of times, but what was shown here looked fun enough, exploding enemy ships before heading to your next destination. If the controls come off as arcade-y and accessible, it could prove to be a nice change of pace, including disrupting Imperial comms to remove your ‘Wanted’ status, GTA-style.

Another mission, The Wreck, showed Kay taking on more platforming and puzzling styles of challenges, before things headed south, forcing her to escape through a falling-down structure and escape to safety on her motorbike. Exploring this ancient High Republic cruiser in search of a nav computer showed another change of pace from the prior enemy-filled mission, which focused more on taking in the sights and exploring. The best open-world games find a neat balance between exploration, puzzles and combat, and Kay seems well-rounded enough to take it all on with gusto.

Locations look full of detail, particularly the towns shown that are full of citizens wandering around the streets, going about their business, as you complete quests. For all the positives of Jedi Survivor, its world sometimes didn’t seem superpopulated or thrilling to delve deeply into, but Star Wars Outlaws genuinely feels like you’re roaming around the universe established so deliberately in cinematic form, so I feel like fans, in particular, will really enjoy that feeling here.

The last mission we saw, The Relic, has you infiltrating a Crimson Dawn syndicate hideout to steal a priceless relic. A snowy planet showed even more visual detail and felt distinctly different from the others, which showed good variety. It also again highlighted Kaye’s need to be scrappy, using all the tools in her arsenal to complete the quest.

Star Wars Outlaws definitely seems polished and satisfying, all of its systems at play from the publisher that understands them better than anybody. My one concern from the hands-off missions we got to observe is that nothing about the game felt entirely unique or game-changing in ways we’ve seen before. It looks like a polished blend of stealth, combat, hacking, platforming, puzzling and dogfighting, all within a well-loved universe. While that could indeed be the best kind of comfort food, I don’t know if it pushes the envelope of open-world games to a new frontier. Maybe it doesn’t need to, or maybe it will prove itself further once we get our hands on it. Either way, I’m optimistic about what Star Wars Outlaws is bringing to the table. Comfort food can be the tastiest dish, after all.

We won’t have long to wait; Star Wars Outlaws launches on August 30, 2024 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and PC.