I just stepped out of the closed doors demo of the latest entry in the Lego Star Wars franchise and I have to say, I’m a lot more impressed than I imagined I would be. This is no mere collection or remaster of existing titles as many seem to think. Rather, it’s a completely new title built from the ground up to let players experience all nine movies, and the memorable moments and locations from each one.
At the start, you are presented with all nine films and can choose what film’s setting you want to begin with. You can play through them in any order you choose (even jumping in and out of movies if you’d like). Whether you begin with Phantom Menace and play sequentially through all nine films, or jump immediately into Rise of Skywalker, it’s all about player choice.
From there the Millenium Falcon becomes your vessel as you are then able to travel across the galaxy to many of the planets Star Wars fans know and love. From what we understand, there will be twenty planets in the final game that will all be fully featured and able to be explored. From taking in a tune in the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine, to visiting the Palace on Naboo, you choose how you travel around the Star Wars Universe.
But what struck me the most was the scope of the environments. While certain Lego games have offered varying degrees of freedom, the Skywalker Saga is a true open-world design thus granting the player complete freedom in how you traverse the planets you’ll visit. Our demo was primarily set on Tatooine and we were shown the ability to travel to Jaba’s Palace, his Sail Barge, the Mos Eisley Cantina, the Sarlacc Pit, Luke’s home, and more. Of course, scattered around the environment were interesting things to uncover, side missions to undertake, and collectibles to gather as you’ve come to expect from the Lego games as well.
Exploring the environments is also more enjoyable thanks to a new camera angle that is over the shoulder and thus brings the character closer to the screen. According to the developers, this was done to make the player feel as though they were part of the environment more-so than past Lego titles. Combined with a large variety of mounts and vehicles at your disposal, Star Wars fans will no doubt spend tens of hours simply wandering through the worlds they’ve come to love.
Combat then, as with all the other aspects of the title, has also undergone a redesign. Melee combat is now slightly more complex thanks to combo abilities and chains. Our demo highlighted Luke as he fought off multiple Tusken Raiders through several abilities and button presses that were highlighted on the screen. While it won’t be regarded as a AAA third person action title, it certainly adds some variety where it was previously lacking in prior Lego titles. Ranged combat is also far more intuitive due to the new camera angle, modern shooting mechanics, and even variable damage dependent upon shot location. We were shown how shooting an enemy in the leg made them fall yet did less damage than other areas of the body (including the head which did the most as expected). Seeing varying damage and the ability to shoot with precision in a Lego game was very welcome.
We’ve seen a lot of games this week at E3, but The Skywalker Saga is genuinely one that left an impression on me. Everything we’ve come to love about the Lego Star Wars games is here; the humor, the vast amount of collectibles and characters, and the Lego block recreation of movies we’ve loved for decades. Now add to all of that a more modern approach to gameplay and complete freedom to explore the entire galaxy at will. It’s…most impressive.
At this time, Travelers Tales won’t commit to a release date beyond simply “2020”. But if you’re a fan of the Lego games, or simply a Star Wars fan, absolutely keep an eye on this one.