Star Wars Outlaws looks like the galaxy far, far away’s first true open-world adventure. The iconic sci-fi franchise has had many games focusing on the dark and light side of the force, boasting both fan-favorite lightsaber wielders and original heroes like Cal Kestis and Galen Marek. For Outlaws, however, I’m so much more excited by the prospect of being a comparatively normal person attempting to survive in this complex, dangerous universe.
Honestly, Jedi are like Star Wars cheat codes. They can produce lightning from their fingertips or kill you with just a twitch of a finger. It’s undeniable that this sort of power is enticing, even intoxicating. We’ve all wanted to feel like a superpowered martial artist at one point in our lives, and Respawn’s recent Jedi games have explored that thoroughly: the Jedi power fantasy, the mysteries of Jedi past, and the force as something to be mastered and perhaps feared.
Obviously running around the universe with a laser sword and fighting the good fight is excellent fun. However, I think the Star Wars universe is at its best when it’s seen from the perspective of the ordinary people within it. Jedi are the 0.001%, operating on an entirely different plane of reality from the people they’re fighting for. They’re super soldiers who can shrug off terrible injuries while deciding the fate of the universe – hell, not even death can stop them completely; they’ll come back with sage advice for a younger Jedi down the road. They’re almost mythical symbols, often only stepping up for the biggest, most dramatic fights the galaxy has to offer. Depending on the time period, they’re also few and far between, so ordinary folks can’t depend on the improbability of being saved by these space wizards, meaning many have to take matters into their own hands.
Disney has started to explore the lives of those working behind the scenes of both the Empire and rebels in recent series and films. Andor, for example, does a great job settling you within the often unglamorous day-to-day of its band of rebels. When you see these sorts of people caught in the crossfire for trying to do what’s right, their sacrifice feels so real, so raw compared to the Jedi because you know there’s no coming back, no escape from death; they’re simply gone. The final scenes of Rogue One are also so effective because these people are just people.
Star Wars Outlaws has the potential to tell one of the freshest Star Wars stories precisely because it’s not told from the perspective of a superhuman. Protagonist Kay Vess is new to the outlaw life. Making connections in the underworld is a risky game to play, as we saw in an earlier trailer where Kay is forced to give up her hard-earned cash to an Empire officer or walk away as a wanted woman. That’s the sort of dilemma I like – the one a Jedi could just wave away. Instead, I can choose if I want to shoot first.
So many of the characters we meet in Star Wars canon are wanted individuals. They’re running from their family, their past, their ‘fate,’ whether they’re a Jedi or not. Star Wars Outlaws seems to invite us into the chaos of the universe’s corruption, and because we won’t have any powers, it can result in some terrific chases. We’ve already seen Kay running from a bar into her ship, then immediately transitioning into a dogfight in space. It’s one hell of a sequence.
With the Star Wars Outlaws release date still a while off, we’re only just starting to see how this one is shaping up, but I’m already optimistic. It’s taken a long time for Star Wars to get a true open-world adventure, and with more grounded shows like Andor now out there for Ubisoft to draw from, it feels like a game focusing on the true heroes, the little guys, of the Star Wars universe is possible.