2024 Preview: Can Star Wars Outlaws continue its gaming hot streak? | VGC

While the Star Wars cinematic universe may be in a strange place right now, in the world of gaming, Star Wars is having an excellent run. Hot off 2023’s excellent Star Wars Jedi Survivor, Star Wars Outlaws, Ubisoft’s open-world Star Wars game, is set for 2024.

Starring Kay Vess, a scoundrel for hire, and her fuzzy and incredibly merchandisable companion Nix, the pair will blast their way through the various seedy underbellies of the Star Wars universe in the period of time between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

The question is, will Ubisoft’s Star Wars adventure manage to continue the streak of great Star Wars games, or will it fall into the traps that have so homogenized the Star Wars cinematic output as of late?

We can debate the merits of the post-sequel trilogy Star Wars content until you’re blue in the face, but it’s hard to find a fan who doesn’t agree that things have gone a bit overboard with fan service, and that the world of Star Wars, especially the 100-ish year span between Episode 1 and Episode 9 is so worn thin that it’s practically see through.

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There was once magic in imagining what went on in the moments we didn’t see on screen, but the current obsession with making sure every breath taken by any of the core cast of the original trilogy is catalogued and filmed for Disney + is exhausting. However, there is a way to tell stories in that era without the expensive cameo fest, and it’s Respawn from whom Ubisoft should take inspiration.

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The Star Wars Jedi games are set in the post-Clone Wars era, and feature cameos from iconic characters, including an incredibly well-handled Vader cameo in the first game and more in the sequel we won’t spoil, but its strength is that the game is its own self-contained story happening elsewhere in the universe. That’s exactly what Star Wars Outlaws should look to pull off.

Sure, Kay Vess can walk into a bar and get a bounty from Dengar, or we can bump into someone who got their star on the shipping yard of Corellia, but we don’t need that scene where we’re smuggling a package for a mysterious buyer, and it turns out to be a dodgy not-quite Mark Hamil with plastic hair.

“There was once magic in imagining what went on in the moments we didn’t see on screen, but the current obsession with making sure every breath taken by any of the core cast of the original trilogy is catalogued and filmed for Disney + is exhausting.”

In the game’s first public demo, we saw several destroyed imperial ships being recommissioned for use by bandits, complete with new colour schemes and modifications. That’s the kind of thing we want to see. Sure, it’s fun killing Stormtroopers, but we’ve done that in every Star Wars game since the beginning, we want Star Wars Outlaws to give us something new alongside the good old-fashioned Empire smashing, and it looks like it will.

As for what type of game Star Wars Outlaws will be, well Ubisoft certainly has a formula. As soon as you see Ubisoft and you hear the words open world, you should have pictures of towers forming in your head almost instantly, but we’re not sure that’s the way Outlaws will approach its mission structure.

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While Massive’s Avatar Frontiers of Pandora sat more in the Far Cry camp of Ubisoft open-world, we wouldn’t be surprised if Star Wars Outlaws was more akin to The Division, rather than the animal-skinning epic of Far Cry.

That can be seen in the gameplay of Star Wars outlaws that has been shown so far. This isn’t only due to the third-person viewpoint, but also the style of encounters that have been shown. It’s a lot of cover shooting, moving around bespoke mission environments, and using equipment to get the drop on your enemies.

Ship combat has also been shown off, and while we don’t imagine it’ll be galaxy-spanning, it looks like a good way to break up the on-the-ground gameplay. It’s yet to be seen how this ship combat will manifest in terms of how often you’ll be sent back to the ship, if it’s something that can be done at will or if these combat sequences are pre-made story beats, but a key part of scoundralling is going after the loot, so if Kay Vess can do that whenever the player wants, that could be a fun alternative to kicking the cyber-doors off a bar and shooting every patron in sight.

Star Wars is in a wonderful spot in the gaming world, and we hope Star Wars Outlaws will continue that confidently. The demo we’ve seen so far has us excited, but, as with all modern Star Wars products, cautious about how the license will be handled. It’s hard to put too much blame on a developer who gets to play around in the world of what is probably the most universally cherished IP in history, but for the sake of Star Wars Outlaws, we hope some restraint is shown.

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