Star Wars Outlaws’ open world is every fan’s dream

We got hands-on with Ubisoft’s ambitious Star Wars sandbox
The Trailblazer is Kay's trusty ship and seemingly as much a hunk of junk as the Millenium Falcon.
The Trailblazer is Kay's trusty ship and seemingly as much a hunk of junk as the Millenium Falcon. / Ubisoft

My hands-on with Star Wars Outlaws feels incredible – for three minutes. 

In those three minutes I land on a grassy planet called Toshara, hop on my speeder bike, and cavort to the horizon as a cruel timer in the corner counts down my remaining demo time. The sense of being able to embark on my own journey on an unknown Star Wars planet is glorious. 

To test the limits of this Star Wars sandbox I drive directly into an alien bison. Disappointingly, I bounce right off. Next, I hop out and try to shoot a farmer. It doesn’t work - you’re not allowed to shoot NPCs. I even hop in the cockpit of a landspeeder parked tantalizingly out front, but there’s no option to steal it. Grand Theft Star Wars this isn’t. 

Still, it’s a level of freedom I can’t recall having in a Star Wars game before; a wide open plain before me and no barriers in sight. If you play within its rules, experiencing rather than experimenting, Star Wars Outlaws rewards handsomely.

Star Wars Outlaws screenshot of Kay and Nix approaching a wrecked cruiser.
Star Wars Outlaws / Ubisoft

For example, just before my demo ends, I get talking to a Greedo-looking figure on a bench who teases the location of some far-off treasure. One developer even tells me there’s an option to own a moisture farm on Tatooine and receive passive income.

These random encounters are what will set Star Wars Outlaws apart from more linear games like Jedi Survivor. But, as I say, that’s all based on three minutes of gameplay. 

When that ends I select another demo from the menu screen, this one set in snowy Kijimi City. The mission is to infiltrate a fortress and retrieve a priceless relic. Getting in feels very Assassin’s Creed, albeit streamlined: a pair of soldiers block the front gate, so you follow a hidden path around the side and climb up through a hole in the wall.

Star Wars Outlaws screenshot of Kijimi.
Star Wars Outlaws / Ubisoft

Inside is a mix of stealth and action as I take down enemies with hand-to-hand combat and fight them off with third-person cover-shooting, all while hacking terminals and cracking locks. Of the two, combat has more depth. Your blaster has alternate fire modes to take out shields, overcharge robots, and instantly knock-out enemies. You can even press both sticks in to mark and execute multiple enemies in a slick finishing move. 

You're able to grab enemy weapons, like a heavy rifle with chargeable explosive rounds and a blaster with a mounted shield, but you have to drop them when they run out of ammo. It gives you a brief but brilliant flirtation with devastating firepower. 

It’s what happens outside the fortress that really grabs the attention, however. After stealing the artifact and escaping, I’m free to wander around. On the minimap are icons for a blacksmith, cantina, and clothes shop, but they’re blocked off in the demo. 

Star Wars Outlaws screenshot of Kay shooting at Stormtroopers.
Star Wars Outlaws / Ubisoft

During my meanderings I pass by Stormtroopers who don’t give me a second glance. It’s novel to see a Stormtrooper and not immediately blast them. You’re less a notorious Jedi master, more an anonymous figure in a grand galaxy.

Again, I’m not given nearly enough time in this section before the demo timer funnels me to the mission’s end, so it’s unclear just how big this city is and how much you’re able to explore. The open-world structure is Star Wars Outlaws’ biggest selling point, so it’s strange that it isn't the focus of my hands-on. 

The last portion of the demo involves a high-speed dogfight in my ship, the Trailblazer. It feels faster and more immediate than Star Wars: Squadrons. You can hold the left trigger to lock the camera onto enemies and shoot them with a generous smattering of auto-aim, and target them with homing missiles. The interesting part is afterwards, however, when I fly up to an orbiting terminal and hold Y to clear my ‘wanted’ status. 

Star Wars Outlaws screenshot of Kay hiding.
Star Wars Outlaws / Ubisoft

It speaks of a game where your actions have consequences, one in which you can inject your personality into your playstyle. But, for whatever reason, my hands-on only gives me a glimpse of open-world stuff. It feels like a great game stuffed into a poor demo. 

The mission ends with me flying my ship directly into a planet’s atmosphere and touching down without a single loading screen. There’s a brief animation of your ship landing set to stirring music, but impressively, no fades to black.

The effect is seamless. After the cutscene, my ship’s ramp lowers to reveal my speeder bike waiting to whisk me off to the horizon. Hopefully, that’s where the real Star Wars Outlaws is. And in the full version, there won’t be a timer. 

Star Wars Outlaws is set to launch on August 30, 2024, for PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. For more on the game, check out our Star Wars Outlaws interview with associate narrative director John Björling and lead systems designer Matthieu Delisle.

Griff Griffin


Griff Griffin is a writer and YouTube content creator based in London, UK.