E3 First Impressions – LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

The Cinelinx team got to take a peak at all new gameplay of the LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga during E3 this year and here is what they saw.

TT Games Strategic Director Jonathan Smith said first thing that the game is new from the ground up and that players will be free to explore the galaxy.

This includes planet to planet travel in addition to sector to sector via hyperdrive, with a smattering of space combat. There will be various landing points across each world that will unlock as your play through the story mode; but it’s not as restricting as it sounds. You’ll be able to play the game and travel the galaxy (20 explorable planets) in any order you choose. So you can be play both Return of the Jedi AND The Last Jedi missions at the same time.

During our demo, the team showcased the overworld, each depicting a scene from each of the nine main films. The developers said there will be a total of five main missions that comprise each film in the Saga. For those of you who don’t care for math, that’s a total of 45 story missions. If you played the previous LEGO Star Wars games, however, don’t expect to be going through the same levels. Instead, the team says they specifically sought out scenes that weren’t in the previous games.

For instance, this means The Phantom Menace story missions actually start with the underwater sequences on Naboo instead of Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon having to escape the Trade Federation ship. While that may seem crazy, that doesn’t mean you won’t experience some of the elements. Instead, other movie sequences will play out in the game’s open world areas as you travel to the next, primary, story mission.

Extra quests will be availble as well, and the developers were quick to point out they wouldn’t be as cut and drying (i.e. boring) as they’ve been in the past. Not only that, but as you can in RPGs, you’ll be able to STOP in the middle-of a sidequest to do something else. For example, some of the new Bounty Hunter quests will having tracking specific characters across the galaxy. You’ll have to visit other planets for clues/puzzles and track them down. If something else comes along the way while you’re doing that, it’s okay to take a break and come back later.

The gameplay demo we were shown eventually brought us down into Anchorhead on Tatooine. This was to showcase how much more deeply immersive the environments are between improved camera controls and a redesigned universe that includes semi-realistic environments and environmental affects (dust being kicked up when walking).

And when I say redesigned, that’s exactly what I mean. While the teaser may not have made it entirely clear, the game’s creative director informed us this game was built entirely from the ground up. They aren’t simply re-hashing levels/designs from the previous LEGO Star Wars games (even though six of the films have already been done before), but crafting an all new experience brick-by-brick.

On Tatooine, the developers took us by Luke’s workshop, and his T16-SkyHopper, on Lars homestead before going back out towards the market. Despite being a hands-off demo, one thing was instantly clear: the camera controls have been dramatically improved. On the back of the Bantha it was easy to rotate and control what you wanted to see and explore (although the camera will be fixed during local cooperative play).

This creature was also the victim of a showcasing of how you can use Jedi mindtricks on other lifeforms (He’s a good dancer!). In a second meeting, a developer said that the force can be used to turn enemies against each other as well.

Beyond making mounts/creatures dance, however, the Force can also be used to manipulate ANYTHING that can be broken in the environment. Moreso, Smith told us that you can manipulate multiple items at a time. Should be interesting to see how that aspect comes into the puzzle solving element the LEGO games always bring.

Photo by Katy Barber

Force Powers aren’t the only thing that’s changed in the gameplay. The combat in LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has been redesigned as well. Lightsaber battles aren’t merely smacking enemies until they fall apart, but have a more natural/realistic feel to them. You can string together combinations in order to take down enemies, who now display an actual health bar. There is a combo-counter that tracks how many unique three-button combinations you input to provide bonus studs.

For non-Lightsaber characters, you have the ability to actually aim your blasters, rather than locking onto a target and mashing the button. In the demo, I saw Chewbacca use his bowcaster to inflict non-lethal damage to raiders where he aimed at specific body parts (to which enemies reacted differently depending on where they were struck). There is also an over-the-shoulder mode to shoot.

Additionally, they showcased the return of the GNK Power Droids with a short escort mission. His reward was one Kyber brick, a glowing translucent blue brick, that will be used to upgrade your ships and vehicles down the road.

In the preview, the developer swapped to C-3PO to speak with the GNK unit so that he could understand the ‘Gonk! Gonk! Gonk!’ I know that someone asked on Twitter about voice over and I can confirm there are voices, but there was no word on who recorded the lines.

I did speak with a member of the development team afterwards about the stand-alone films and they said there were no plans for DLC at this time. Though considering how just about all of their recent LEGO titles (DC Super Villains, Marvel, etc.) have had copious amounts of DLC to add in new characters, there’s still hope for something later on.

What are you most excited about in LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga? Let us know @Cinelinx

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Writer and Managing Editor at Cinelinx. Producer and host of KakeBytes. Digital Producer IRL for Hearst. Part-time gremlin and lo-fi human merely existing.