June 16, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA
Gaming

Star Wars Outlaws feels Han Solo-ish like, well, an open-world game from Ubisoft

I've been trying to figure out what “scoundrel” means in the context of a video game. Whatever it means, tribute to Han Solo Star Wars Outlaws It is not like this? Here are some basically non-shameless and very Ubisoft things I did during my 60 minutes with Massive Entertainment. open world Adaptation at this week's Summer Game Fest: Climbed up rectangular arrays of yellow handholds. I shoot the bad guys over rectangular cover designs. You picked up 7/10 pieces of scrap metal with some Star Wars flavor text that unlocked an item recipe of some kind. I deployed my chibi Chewbacca companion, Nix, to distract the Imperials with cute moves and belly flops so I could sneak up behind them. They discovered him hiding behind them and he murdered them all before one could run to a terminal and summon reinforcements. Well, maybe that last one is getting there.

Slid through vents, shot at power nodes slightly out of sight to power up doors and elevators, rappelled from precisely placed grab icons, dashed through collapsing and exploding debris accordingly. with an obvious script. She hacked a door using a beat-matching minigame and hacked a terminal by discovering the correct sequence of glyphs. I pecked some Tie Fighters into shrapnel in my Trailblazer starship and zoomed across a patch of desert in my speeder. I saw a few scenes in which the protagonist Kay, a brave young smuggler who has betrayed a galactic crime syndicate, tries to deceive her former associates. Kay talks a lot (each mission is a litany of notes to yourself about her next waypoint), but she has minimal stage presence. Watching her stall for time feels less like Han vs. Greedo than someone whining their way out of a parking ticket.


Star Wars Outlaws star Kay exploring an abandoned ship
Image credit: Ubisoft

Star Wars Outlaws is probably a fun weekend with a family-sized bag of chips, but it's no scoundrel. So far, there's nothing really extravagant, rogue-like or improvised about the experience, and while it has a couple more aspects than your average Ubisoft blockbuster (among other things, an open world divided into multiple planets, each ruled by different gangster families), it also doesn't really have a standout feature, beyond the fact that it's Star War.

Mind you, it does a pretty good job of being Star Wars. Developer Massive seems to fit right into the Lucasverse, as its previous Division games are object worlds as exotic, sparse, and cheerful as any Mos Eisley cantina: fallen cityscapes with obsessively recreated minutiae of body bags, graffiti, and boxes of rations of all colors. of the rainbow You feel that knack for location design the moment you set foot in one of Outlaws' towns. There are filthy locals leaning against walls or bars, gossiping about sabaac or the ruling criminals. There are glitchy holographic ads, overhead ship traffic, bursts of industrial steam, and a rich stew of noise from crowded markets and drug dealers.

I don't think it's as engrossing as, say, that first step into Night City, but it has enough atmosphere to take you away from your reference point. It's just that everything you do in and around these places is at best formulaic and at worst indecisive.


Your ship in Star Wars Outlaws, fighting Tie Fighters near a planet
Image credit: Ubisoft

The game's combat isn't sure if Kay is a Hannah Solo, a cunning escape artist, or a Thomasina Clancy. Leaving aside your fancy and modestly upgradeable pistol, you can make temporary use of beefier weapons on the map, like heavy blasters with forced shields and charge-to-shoot sniper rifles, sending your familiar Ewoky cat to pick them up while you you hide behind the bushes. You can also have Nix rip the pin off an enemy's thermal detonator (they never seem to notice in time) or lunge at an enemy's head to tie them up for a few seconds.

Overall, Nix is ​​the MVP, because he's secretly a Division drone dressed in axolotl clothing. Between his tactical assists and your ability to headshot and overload personal shields with ion ammo, you can take down battalions of Stormtroopers with relative ease. But I'm not sure Outlaws wants you to do that. The much-vaunted feel of the weapon is hesitant and, I think, deliberately short on style: it's simply throwing laser beams at health bars, with opponents flying around the layout making combat barks without much ceremony or style.

Stealth is equally diligent: Nix is ​​still the MVP, taking Stormtroopers out of position with a reliability that seems forced even by Stormtrooper standards, while you race for terminals and hatches. Hallway platforms are uninspired set pieces where you can often predict the cadence of debris falling from the ceiling or walkways crumbling beneath you. And the spaceship combat feels, at times, like driving Dodgems underwater, with intermittent acceleration and open-world gadgets like Imperial outfits you can hack to make all the Imperial pilots chasing you forget you exist.


Star Wars Outlaws star Kay walking through a desert canyon
Image credit: Ubisoft

Again, I think all of this will probably add to someone's idea of ​​a good time, specifically a Star Warrior who hasn't played any Ubisoft games in a while. As bland and unwilling as the mechanics may be, they are a suitable delivery mechanism for the setting. I'm just not sure it's possible to recreate the specific energy of Harrison Ford's Han Solo in an open-world shooter like this. Han Solo is a mix of clown and cowboy: He's brave, cunning, and has a good eye, but fundamentally he's a faker who relies on a mix of luck, charisma, and Chewbacca. I don't think you can plan that kind of thing as a cover-up tactic – the closest anyone has ever come is Uncharted. Let's hope MachineGames does better with Solo's cross-genre sibling Indiana Jones.

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