Though many would consider E3 2019 to have been lackluster, a hidden gem was to be found in the Los Angeles Convention Center’s South Hall. Parked next to titans such as Borderlands 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 sat Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Lines to catch a glimpse of the game were short, especially compared to the games surrounding the somewhat hidden booth. Not only does The Skywalker Saga manage to be a diamond in the rough of E3, but its behind-closed-doors, hands-off demo was easily one of the most impressive that the show had to offer.
Announced during Microsoft’s annual E3 press conference, The Skywalker Saga revealed itself to be a collection of every Star Wars movie in Lego-game form. The mid-conference announcement was, justifiably, met with little fanfare. Considering the last handful of Lego titles from series developer TT Games have been bland and uninventive, even die-hard fans of the first few Lego games in the adventure style have started falling off from the series. The Skywalker Saga is a blatant attempt to welcome back those lost with open arms, as TT Games looks to be reinventing itself and the Lego game formula with this all-star collection.
From the get-go, TT Games let those attending the 20-minute demo presentation know that The Skywalker Saga will include nine campaigns, one for each mainline Star Wars movie. All of the previously released games—episodes I through VII—are being offered as retellings, while episodes eight and nine will offer completely new experiences. Even if TT was repackaging the previously released games in the form of a remaster, the value would be insane, but then the demo opened up space travel.
The player took the pilot seat of Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon in what seems to be No Man’s Sky-levels of open space. Players can travel between a number of planets from the Star Wars universe, each having open-world environments that contain mini-games, Easter eggs, and plenty of story levels from the chapters of Star Wars canon.
The Falcon proceeded toward the planet of Tatooine through a Lego-made asteroid field. An Imperial Star Destroyer quickly warped from hyperspace only a few hundred feet away, but the player was quickly able to dodge out of the way, landing on Tatooine safely.
This planet is where TT gave a first look at some of the environments players will grow accustomed to during their time with the Skywalker Saga, but more noticeable than any of that was the new third-person camera. Strangely enough, the best comparison to make would be the similar perspectives found in Gears of War. The view feels tight and personal, especially when compared the airier views of previous Lego games.
Moving on to the fresh take on environments showed ground, mountains, and general foundations to not be built of Legos, making for sprawling settings that looked more real than they had any right to. A nearby, rideable bantha stood nearby, showing off TT’s new dynamic environment engine. Besides offering nice visuals, environments such as sand, mud, dirt, debris, and other general scruff can build up on the lower legs of any character or vehicle.
From here, the demo showed off The Skywalker Saga’s overhauled combat, which features light and heavy attacks to make players feel more like a Jedi. Between seeing some of Luke Skywalker’s flips and tricks, occasionally the audience was given a view of freeform Force powers players will be able to play with. Objects seem to be throwable via contextual actions just as in previous games, though the ability to freely move around and throw people and objects is available, too.
TT put its money where its mouth is with the massively changed third-person camera by showing off some Chewbacca action. The demo showed Chewy pull out his crossbow to take out some Tusken Raiders, further emphasizing the Gears of War-like combat. In an obvious move to help modernize the series, Chewy could shoot different body parts on the raiders to yield different effects. For example: shooting a leg could knock a Raider to their knees, while shooting them in the gut could cause a staggering effect. This modernization is gratifying, as it was a clear indicator of TT’s achievement in creating a more polished and deep experience.
Lastly, to match the generally expanded idea present throughout the demo came the introduction of side-quests. TT says it is aiming to make these side-quests and other smaller activities more interesting and, thanks to an interview with Kotaku, players should be glad to know the team is using The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as guidance in this regard.
While the open space of the Star Wars universe or overhauled combat may not be as innovative as the impressive tech showcased in this year’s Cyberpunk 2077 demo, TT’s self-reinvention is. The Skywalker Saga aims to stand on its own both as a Lego game and a standout video game for old and new fans alike. If the modernization of a franchise that was starting to grow old is not enough to bring fans back, then hopefully TT Games’s ambition and heart will be. Either way, given the studio’s track record toward mediocrity, The Skywalker Saga has no right to look as shockingly promising as it does.