There has been an awakening; I felt it when I was granted the opportunity to check out a preview of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. TT Games has been toiling on the most ambitious LEGO Star Wars game to date—if not the most ambitious LEGO or Star Wars game, period—and the results look promising.
TT Games’ level director Mike Consalvey walked through a pre-recorded gameplay demo to highlight various innovations. Our tour commenced with Episode IV: A New Hope, which now incorporates elements established in Rogue One—like Leia receiving the plans beamed up from Scarif at the movie’s conclusion, or the cavalier way in which Darth Vader cuts through Rebel soldiers in cutscenes.
This first level follows the movie’s opening scene loosely, as players lead Princess Leia and Captain Antilles through the Tantive IV’s halls and ultimately stow the Death Star plans in R2-D2. Immediately, the series’ new camera angle makes a huge impression. Now closer to the action, this improved perspective makes a fundamental change to the gameplay and atmosphere, and really shows off the graphical improvements since 2016’s LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
As Leia progressed through hallways designed entirely with LEGO blocks, she also demonstrated new down-the-sights blaster aiming. Players can target individual body parts to inflict more damage, or elicit unique reactions from enemies. If you let them get up close and personal instead, the reworked close-quarters combat allows you to unleash specific button combos, keeping gameplay fresh.
TT Games promises LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will offer many different ways to get through each level. In one instance, Leia has the option to build a fire extinguisher to clear one route, or build a door to make another. Some solutions allow players to bypass combat altogether, as when C-3PO later used a terminal to open an airlock and suck troopers out into space instead of engaging with them.
As in LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, playable characters are again divided into classes—but these distinctions now have a bigger impact on gameplay beyond just dictating a character’s playstyle, weapons, and abilities. Enemies are no longer hostile to Protocol Droids or Astromech Droids, allowing them to skulk around and manipulate computers, while Dark Side users can use the Force for evil, as you might imagine.
An overhauled character development system will play into this as well, allowing players to spend Kyber Bricks obtained from levels to increase skills. These range from global skills, like increasing everyone’s movement speed, to more class-specific boons.
After the dynamic droid duo escaped to Tatooine with the Death Star plans—in a cutscene that shows the series’ iconic sense of humour is still intact—we got to see a glimpse at the hub worlds that connect story missions, like the Lars Homestead. These hubs look very promising, rife with opportunities to earn Kyber Bricks in various methods. They move away from the fully-LEGO environments of interiors like the Tantive IV, and instead implement movie-worthy landscapes with weathering effects. Tatooine’s natural environments look great, with grime accumulating on characters’ clothing from blowing sands.
I was able to put all of this to the test in a hands-on preview as well. Exploring the alternate routes and other hidden crannies of the Tantive IV mission not shown in our preview demo was incredibly satisfying, speaking to the incredible replay value LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will offer.
One area I didn’t get to sample was the revamped interstellar combat engine, but the prerecorded footage I saw from other levels looked very promising. (Unfortunately I was too distracted by exploring the Tatooine and Mos Eisley hubs and my playtime ran out just after meeting Han and Chewie, before I could sit in the Millenium Falcon’s pilot seat.) With each planet in the game having a unique stage for its local space, each rife with its own missions and collectibles, and the biggest roster of starships yet, this particular game mode could call for as much time as the ground missions.
The enriched combat was immediately satisfying, however—intuitive enough to make this series feel fulfilling for older players, but still simple enough that kids can button-mash their way through many challenges. We were also shown how the game’s new “lightsaber duel context” will work in showdowns between Force-users, adding cinematic intensity to the saga’s many duels. These should pose a greater challenge for younger players, yet nothing insurmountable.
TT Games seems to have outdone themselves with LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga’s attention to detail. It even shines through in the episode selection menu, where small dioramas for each film recreate an iconic moment, like the showdown between Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Fetts on Kamino in Attack of the Clones. With the complete nine-movie saga at their fingertips, yielding the biggest roster of ships and characters in the series, this really could be the most comprehensive Star Wars video game to date.
Or if that sounds too serious or comprehensive, you can always enable some of the wild Datacard effects to amp up the fun factor, like the Galactic Rave option, which… well, turns the galaxy into one big disco party.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga launches April 5 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.