Preview: Star Wars Outlaws on PS5 Has a World of Possibilities, But Is Let Down by a Rough Demo 1

Despite the overabundance of Star Wars in the last few years thanks to all of those middle-of-the-road Disney+ shows, there’s always been a bit of a white whale for those old enough to remember the pre-Disney era — that being LucasArts’ cancelled Star Wars 1313. While we have an endless number of games where you play as someone with a lightsaber, 1313’s Uncharted-style approach caught our eye for a reason.

Now, over 10 years after 1313’s sad demise, Ubisoft has picked up the ball with Star Wars Outlaws, an open world adventure game starring scoundrel Kay Vess and her little freak companion Nix. Mixing Uncharted-style mission design with a cocktail of Ubisoft open world games, Outlaws has you patrol many of the famous locations from the films. Well, in theory that is.

We had some hands-on time with Outlaws at Summer Game Fest. But rather than being able to explore the galaxy at our own leisure, we were dropped into three specific scenarios that aimed to show off the different segments of the game, which struck us as a very strange way to show off an exploration-focused intergalactic adventure.

Preview: Star Wars Outlaws on PS5 Has a World of Possibilities, But Is Let Down by a Rough Demo 2

The first segment of our demo — titled False Flag — kicked things off with a bang; Kay and Nix had to escape an imperial space station after destroying data belonging to the Empire. This segment gave us a bit of everything: gunfights, stealth, and dogfights in space.

The combat is a standard third-person shooting affair obviously, but there’s a focus on improvisation that caught our eye. Kay has access to a blaster which has three attack modes (standard bolts, electrical ones for shields and droids, and a stun bolt that takes enemies down in one hit but needs time to recharge), but given how dinky it is you’ll undoubtedly need some more powerful weapons in massive gunfights. Kay can run around the battlefield and take weapons dropped by Stormtroopers and other enemies, and get Nix to steal from enemies or set up traps on the battlefield. It makes things a bit more interesting than a typical third-person shooter due to this.

Preview: Star Wars Outlaws on PS5 Has a World of Possibilities, But Is Let Down by a Rough Demo 3

Stealth is a bit more awkward. One thing that really clicked during these sections is that Star Wars Outlaws shares a lot of DNA with Watch Dogs. While you get to go full hacker man in Watch Dogs to mess with enemies or set up traps in the environment, Kay instead can rely on Nix to distract enemies to allow her to sneak about or go for the stealth takedown. Plus, Nix can also launch itself on explosive barrels to blow them up when enemies walk by, and even steal grenades from a Stormtrooper's belt. However, while hacking in Watch Dogs was fairly instant, Nix is a little creature who has to scurry around, plus in terms of long-ranged stealth options you’re pretty much stuck with the aforementioned rechargeable electric bolt (of course, more could appear later in the game).

The second segment of the demo is where it started to lose us a bit. In a sequence called The Wreck, Kay has to explore a smashed-up Republic ship in search of spare parts to fix her own vessel, The Trailblazer. This segment was pure Uncharted, with lots of climbing and exploring. However, it also surfaced one of the biggest issues we had with our limited time with the game. First off, the mission felt incredibly linear; there wasn't too much in the way of player freedom as it felt like you were siphoned into solving situations in one way. We're not usually bothered about the "yellow paint" debate in games, but between that and the dreaded God of War-style puzzles telling you the solution almost instantly, we didn't come away with particularly high hopes for the mission design in Star Wars Outlaws.

Preview: Star Wars Outlaws on PS5 Has a World of Possibilities, But Is Let Down by a Rough Demo 4

Thankfully, the things you can rely on in even the worst Star Wars games are still present here. The aesthetic is nailed and the sound effects and music are exactly how you want them to be. Plus, it's absolutely gorgeous to look at. The indoor areas and planet environments look phenomenal both in terms of fidelity and aesthetics. One aspect that we really weren't a fan of was the constant letterboxing; obviously the team is going after the movie look, but to us it just undermines how good the actual game looks.

It's extremely hard to get a read on Star Wars Outlaws from the demo we were shown. The idea of exploring a galaxy far, far away is such an enticing prospect and instead we were presented with extremely linear Uncharted-inspired demos that weren't exactly big on player freedom. That being said, we can already tell people are going to love this game, even if some of the game design feels a bit dated in an era of titles like Dragon's Dogma 2. There are so many little things to like here (we really love the lockpicking minigame), and the attention to detail and adoration for Star Wars undoubtedly makes it exciting — but without seeing the open world gameplay we can't really make a proper judgement call on Star Wars Outlaws just yet.

Preview: Star Wars Outlaws on PS5 Has a World of Possibilities, But Is Let Down by a Rough Demo 5

Are you looking forward to visiting a galaxy far, far away? Do you think it matters that Star Wars Outlaws hasn’t put its best foot forward with this pre-release media demo? Blaster away in the comments section below.