In context: Despite its good reviews from critics, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor failed to impress players, who gave the game mixed ratings primarily because of poor performance. Developer Respawn could have blamed the sluggish framerates on PC players with underpowered hardware if it weren't for the fact that the game also seemed unoptimized on consoles. Hopefully, Ubisoft's upcoming Star Wars game avoids this issue by focusing solely on current generation hardware.
Over the weekend, Ubisoft announced that it is working on an open-world Star Wars game called Star Wars Outlaws (masthead). Then on Monday, the developer dropped a couple of sneak peeks to give players a taste of what to expect. One was a 10-minute gameplay trailer (below), and the other was a five-minute behind-the-scenes video featuring Humberly González as the story's main character Kay Vess (bottom).
Developed by Massive Entertainment, Star Wars Outlaws shares some characteristics with Respawn's two recent Jedi games – Fallen Order and Survivor. Ubisoft bills it as an open-world adventure. Likewise, Respawn described both Jedi games as open-world but struggled to make them feel that way. Both games relied on compelling players to backtrack to previous regions to discover new areas using upgraded abilities. While the games were enjoyable, this gameplay mechanic got tedious after a while, no matter how expansive the maps were.
As for the story, Ubisoft went in a different direction with its hero – or antihero, as the case may be. Instead of playing a do-gooding Jedi, players will fill the shoes of a female version of Han Solo named Kay Vess. For some unrevealed reason, Kay has a bounty on her head, probably because she spends much of her time picking up jobs that are not strictly legal, like smuggling.
Judging by the gameplay trailer, Massive might be implementing a morality system into the game that allows players to be more or less of a scoundrel, depending on your point of view. In one part of the trailer, the player faces the decision of whether or not to bribe an Imperial officer. Although Ubisoft didn't mention whether choices matter, it appears they might.
Unfortunately, since Kay is not a Jedi, there is not likely to be much lightsaber play unless Massive has a surprise up its sleeve during the latter portions of the game. Combat will mainly involve gunplay and stealth action.
Players can tackle mission objectives in a variety of ways. Those keen on stealth play could potentially ghost their way through missions. Guns blazing can work, too. Kay can always run away to fight another day if things get too hot. Of course, any combination of playstyles could also work.
In the trailer, the player starts out stealthily, gets caught in a firefight, grabs the objective, and escapes. Players can "borrow" vehicles, including speeder bikes and spacecraft, to ditch their pursuers. Also, flying from planetside to space appears to be seamless, with no awkward transitions or load screens.
Ubisoft doesn't have a release window more specific than "next year," but did say it will be available on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series consoles. The fact that there don't appear to be versions for last-gen consoles could be good news. Many recent multiplatform games have not fully taken advantage of the power available in the PS5 and XBSX. Hopefully, Outlaws can provide a genuine "next-gen" experience without all the issues other developers have had in making their games compatible across half a dozen or more platforms.