E3 2019: Eyes-on with LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
The announcement of a new Star Wars game is always going to get attention, a new Lego Star Wars game is going to get a special kind of spotlight on it and when Lego Star Wars The Skywalker Saga was announced, I was ambivalent on it, having seen it in action though, I am very excited.
The things to note about this game is that one, the story will cover all nine feature films and everything in it is new, from the engine powering the game, to well, everything. The demo that I was lucky enough to see being played had the Millennium Falcon landing on Tattooine, with the character jumping out and walking around, but what is impressive is how that start came to be. On the movie selection screen, Return of the Jedi was selected and then we were in, no massive load screens, no hub to explore, just in and that is where things got interesting with it, the game allowed for choice at this early stage, in the event we saw, a Lego Star Destroyer came barrelling out of hyperspace and the fellow from TT Games did shoot at it a few times and the Tie Fighters that it let out into Space, but eventually they changed course and made the jump to Tattooine.
While we were getting the visual treat that hyperspace is, the bloke that was explaining everything that we were seeing, noted that each of the ships in the game are made from Lego, making them completely destructible and that the Star Destroyer that we encountered was over 100m in length, making it one of the largest ships they have ever made for a game. With the Falcon arriving at Tatooine, we had the chance to see the map, as no longer were we told to go to a set point, there were, in fact, multiple points where we could land, with prominent locations like Mos Eisley and Toshi Station available. With a destination selected, the Falcon made its approach to land and when it did, things got even more impressive.
The game now sports a camera that sits behind your character, instead of looking at it from above like the previous games did, it means that you are actually in the game now. The worlds were completely designed with this in mind, as you can now rotate the camera in full 360 degree, letting you get the lay of the land, before you move a single step. Off in the distance, we could see the port of Mos Eisley, one of the other destinations and there was nothing stopping us from heading there, but with that looked at, we got to exploring. The game now allows for complete freedom when you explore, you can interact with characters, riding in a land speeder, or even hijack a bantha and make off with it, the catch is that the world is alive, so you never know what will happen, case in point a few Tuscan Raiders were spotted chasing after a single Bantha.
While we had been running around as Lando, it was time to show off some other characters, like C-3PO, who, like in the moves can be broken into pieces and you can then wander around as just the top half of the character. Chewbacca was also in there and highlighted the vast improvement to combat, previously whenever you shot at someone, the game would auto-aim for you, now however with the camera being closer to the character, when you shoot, you can either just shoot in the direction you are looking, or take aim and the game becomes a 3rd person shooter, complete with aiming reticule. But it is not just shooting that feels different, Lightsaber combat is vastly improved and now for the first time ever, you can wield the force, however you see fit.
Swapping to Luke, the demo had him pick up droids, boulders, plants and basically everything that was made out of Lego, which even includes the ever-reliable R2-D2, who had been following along this entire time. Rather than just wandering around though, a mission was collected from a Gonk droid, but there was a catch, Luke does not speak Gonk droid, so a switch to C-3PO, who is fluent in over six million forms of communication, and we got the lowdown. The droid wanted to cross the town and desert to go somewhere, but every time he tried, he was attacked by Tuscan Raiders, so he wanted some support and that is where we came in. As the world is a living one, the amount of raiders that appear is not fixed, sometimes there could be more, other times less, but that is what excites me about the game, the unknown.
The demo was coming to and end, with us abandoning the Gonk droid and heading out of town, but on the walk out, we did get to see those Tuscan Raiders from earlier, running away from a heard of Bantha’s, though I don’t know if it was scripted for the E3 demo, or just a funny moment that happened organically, but it made me laugh.
Lego Star Wars The Skywalker Saga has finally done what I have wanted the Lego games to do, evolve, as no longer are things limited by the basic engine they have had since day one. The new freedom to go anywhere, new choices in how you approach missions and exploration, plus a complete retelling of the Skywalker Saga, made this one of my highlights of E3 and 2020 can’t come soon enough.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is out in 2020