If the first thought that came to mind when you first saw this game revealed at E3 2019 was that it’s just a rehash of material, then you should freeze up like carbonite. TT Games’ LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga brings together not just all nine films of the Star Wars universe, but is throwing in major changes to the formula many have come to know and love, and succeeding in over-exceeding expectations.
We read the Internet, “oh it will be 8, it will be 9,” and we were like, let’s make it all of them. And we figured it was the right time to revisit older games and redo them completely with new technologies.Game Director, James McLoughlin
It is fair to say that this game is the biggest the company has ever made, even “bigger than LEGO Dimensions.” As Game Director, James McLoughlin puts it, the developers “had limitations back 15 years ago that don’t exist anymore, so we really wanted to look at the old stuff and see what we can do with it.”
And that technology allows LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga to be on a “galactic scale.” In the demo we saw, there were nine regions, each having several planets that could be explored. By picking one of the nine films, players can then fly to the different planets to experience movie moments and other fun LEGO activities.
Of course, once planets are unlocked, they can be explored even if you jump into another movie, potentially allowing for some really awesome reunions and confrontations.
We are splitting the story up into five story events per movie, and obviously, they are the most exciting and awesome parts of the story that fits into our structure. That doesn’t mean the stuff we didn’t picked doesn’t happen, it happens in the hub, so players get to experience everything.
We were shown the Millennium Falcon flying towards Tatooine, and a sudden appearance of a Super Star Destroyer was impressive, to say the least. What blew it out of the water was that the fact it was made up of some 18 million bricks, and with fully rendered interiors to boot. It must have been some crazy times putting the 150+ vehicles in the final game together in reality as well.
The camera is now switched to more over-the-shoulder, no longer putting you high up and in view of the entire play area. It is a conscious choice, one that McLoughlin fully supports.
“We kinda lovingly refer to the older-style levels as dollhouse situations, where the levels are cut vertically, and the cameras can be side-on most of the time,” McLoughlin added. “But, in the way we have made this new game, everything is fully 3D, you can spin the camera right round, just to make the player feel like they are in the place more.”
Landing in the Anchorhead region, we were treated to many familiar characters in LEGO form – R2D2, Jawas, and Banthas roamed the desert, while buildings (with explorable interiors) beckoned the adventurous.
One criticism of the older games was that while hubs were big, they could often be boring and lack interesting things to do. To that point, McLoughlin was aware of that, and the team “realised that the open worlds needed to be jazzed up.” There will be more involved quests to do, puzzles to solve, secrets to find, and even smuggler runs to partake in.
Combat has now evolved beyond just plain button mashing in LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. There are light and heavy attacks that string together into combos. Force moves shake things up, and there is much more depth to this game compared to any other LEGO games ever.
“The player can essentially attack and use other face buttons to create their own combos. Two jump attacks, two slam attacks, and two standard attacks, the variety is immense and we have never done it before.”
There is even aiming down sights now, something never before implemented in this storied franchise. You can aim at the shoulders to make enemies spin, “shoot at helmets to knock them off, or shoot them in the feet to make them fall over.”
Essentially, the team wants to “make the player feel like this is a world they are interacting with, and not a set piece or canned animations.”
The AI has “also been completely redone. There is now a branching AI system that changes how they react to what you have done. Each fight should play out different depending on what character you bring, a Force character will elicit a different response to a different character.”
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will include the upcoming Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker, and while the team has included elements of the trailer in this demo, they too are in the dark.
With a 2020 release window, a huge expanse of LEGO space will soon be free for players to explore, and based on our experience thus far, it will truly be an epic masterpiece of its own.
Jake is a full-time trophy hunter and achievement gatherer on consoles, and part-time Steam Sale victim. He has a thing for Batman and awesome statues, and running out of space for both. Send help.