Including all three trilogies, the latest LEGO Star Wars games is the most reinvention the series has seen.
In 2005, as the last of the prequels was releasing, LEGO Star Wars came out on GameCube - the first of many LEGO Star Wars games and the early days of the fever pitch of licensed LEGO games. Those games had a cutesy charm, initially rolling out with just gestures and no voice acting and adding more verbosity as the various LEGO games came out. At a certain point, the formula grew stale. Don’t get me wrong: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is a good time, but it settled into a format that was more than a decade old.
Developer TT Games took their time with the next big LEGO game, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, due out on April 5, 2022 on Nintendo Switch. It might not still have been enough according to the reports of workplace troubles, but still, this has been among the longest gaps between LEGO games since LEGO Star Wars came out 17 years ago. The wait is looking to be worth it as LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is an ambitious reinvention of the LEGO formula that includes an incredulous amount of content.
From the outset, you can start with any of the three trilogies. During a hands-off gameplay preview, I was able to see a few different parts of the game. The opening to A New Hope features some Rogue One references in clever ways while initially putting you into the minifigures of Leia and Captain Antilles. Shortly after, you’re down on Tatooine playing as young Luke Skywalker. A portion from Revenge of the Sith highlights the opening where Anakin and Obi-Wan show off Jedi abilities (and Anakin straight-up decapitates Count Dooku). The beginning of The Last Jedi puts you behind the controls of a ship as Poe Dameron and Tallie Lintra (I had to double check that spelling; no big deal if you don’t remember her) fighting the First Order. The levels show shades of familiar areas from past LEGO Star Wars games but this is all new, complete with a tighter camera system and refined combat and puzzles.
What stood out to me about the combat is that it’s more combo-heavy and flashy. You build up a combo meter by landing attacks and your moves get more varied. There’s better gunplay, specifically with different classes. There are a variety of classes, including Hero, Jedi, Scoundrel, Scavenger, Bounty Hunter, Villain, Dark Side, Astromech, and Protocol Droid. Each one plays differently and has their own skill tree, leveled up with Kyber Bricks that can be found by completing levels and also completing various missions. Some of those missions are cheeky ones found in the overworld, like a goofy sand soccer one in an early Tatooine hub world.
The numerous ways to find Kyber Bricks ties into a key element of the design as shown in the hands-off demo: player choice. At different intervals in levels, you have different choices as to where to go, whether it’s using a Droid class to unlock a different door to avoid combat or going in guns blazing as a Hero. These different paths can lead to different level challenges, which in turn unlock more Kyber Bricks and let you upgrade more classes and characters.
With nine full movies of levels to play through, The Skywalker Saga potentially has a bunch of content and from what TT Games has shown, it’s the most ambitious LEGO game in more than a decade. As someone who has only dabbled in LEGO games here and there in the past decade after enjoying them a lot early on, I look forward to playing around with virtual toys when LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga comes out in a few weeks.