Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is being touted by its developers as the “ultimate experience” for fans who want to explore a certain far, far away galaxy. I had just over an hour of hands-on time with the game and if early indications are anything to go by, Traveller’s Tales might just live up to those claims.
In short, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga looks, sounds and feels pretty great so far, but I’d be remiss not to mention the reports of extensive crunch and allegations of mistreatment at TT that have cast a dark shadow over it. Polygon reports that conditions have improved somewhat in recent months, which is good to hear, but no level of polish or Metacritic score is worth pressuring developers into spending more far hours working per week than they ought to be.
A New Perspective
Your path, you must decide, as you’ll be able to play through the three core trilogies in any order (so don’t expect too much Rogue One, Solo or The Mandalorian here). For the preview, though, I was limited to Episode IV – A New Hope.
I started out as Leia as she tries to get the plans to the Death Star to safety. Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice, as you’ll be playing in third-person.
Switching to that perspective seems to dramatically expand the scope of what Traveller’s Tales is able to do this time around. It’s a major change from the isometric viewpoint of many other Lego games (some, like Lego Marvel Super Heroes, have open-world sections that you play in third-person).
Being able to swing the camera around shift opens up many locations, allowing for more opportunities to explore. Mos Eisley acts as one of the hubs where you can take on missions and side missions and it feels much bigger in scope than similar environments from other Lego games. I did feel like of a bit of a jerk when I destroyed innocent vendors’ while riding a Banthaa, though.
Some areas felt a little too big, if anything. At one point, you’ll need to fend off Stormtroopers while Chewbacca repairs the Millennium Falcon. That section is in a large arena with multiple vertical levels, and, despite having a minimap, it wasn’t always easy to spot where enemy blaster shots were coming from.
If the preview (and every other Lego Star Wars game I’ve played) is anything to go by, though, it won’t exactly pose an Elden Ring-level challenge. This is a family-friendly game. There’s plenty of guidance. If you’re ever unsure what to do, smash everything in sight and you’ll figure it out.
The melee system feels pretty slick. You can string together combos and counter enemies’ attacks. That holds true whether you’re battling with fists, droid appendages or a lightsaber. The upgraded Force abilities are fun as well. You can hurl objects at enemies and place others in the right place to unlock another part of a level.
There’s a new cover system too. I didn’t play around with this much, but it seems very much in the vein of many third-person shooters from the last decade or so. Press a button, and your character will automatically run over to a different hiding spot. You’ll be able to take cover behind objects you build as well.
Fresh Riffs On Classic Moments
None of the story beats I encountered will be surprising to anyone familiar with the film, but the game plays with indelible moments and lines in clever and inventive ways. The chunk that I played is packed with the charm and jokes that have become a hallmark of the Lego games.
Without spoiling anything, I cackled a bunch of times at solid jokes, riffs or reactions. There are pretty terrific references to a famous goof and a scene from one of the other movies.
Other mechanics that long-time fans will be familiar with are here too, such as the ability to switch between characters in single player to complete puzzles. You can pick up studs to buy upgrades and return to levels in free play once you’ve unlocked more characters with different abilities to find more secrets.
Scratching The Surface
I’ve barely scratched the surface of this game. I didn’t get to any dogfighting sections, for one thing, and I’m curious to find out how the skill tree abilities affect the gameplay. I’ll undoubtedly spend many hours scouring for Kyber Bricks and other goodies too. I didn’t have much time to dig into the accessibility settings or check out Mumble Mode (or one that turns the entire galaxy into a rave) either, so I’m looking forward to diving into those.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will be released on April 5.