Videogames: ‘Scoundrel sim’ Star Wars Outlaws offers noirish, open-world sci-fi adventure thrills

Artwork for Star Wars Outlaws showing heroine Kay Vess and her sidekick, Nix
A new open-world Star Wars adventure is set to arrive later this year

Preview: Star Wars Outlaws by Ubisoft (multi-format)

2022′s Andor was not only Disney’s greatest Star Wars spin-off, it was that year’s best TV. Down and dirty, boots on the ground stuff, it stripped away the industrial light and magic in favour of real sets, political turmoil and even swearing - and a final sequence inspired by an actual IRA funeral (quick – call Nolan).

In all but name, the dark horse of Star Wars was the Han Solo adventure we always wanted, and channelling its spirit is this year’s most anticipated game. Disney now lists Star Wars Outlaws as arriving in 2024, submerging players in the depths of the Outer Rim’s seedy underbelly with more gritty open-world action and less Force-related hoo-ha.

Set in the year between The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi, Outlaws sidelines Jedi and Sith in favour of Star Wars’ criminal underworld for a scoundrel sim that features “one of the biggest heists the galaxy has ever seen”.

Playing as thief Kay Vess, players stumble into rip-roaring adventures while staying one step ahead of Imperial forces. As one of the little guys of the Star Wars universe attempting to survive in a hive of scum and villainy, Kay is forced to do things the hard way.

Taking on contracts to pilfer Imperial goods for the likes of Jabba the Hutt, the heist-focused gameplay features a ‘reputation’ and ‘wanted’ system similar to Grand Theft Auto. Kay can also activate Red Dead Redemption-style bullet-time aiming, while her ridiculously cute critter Nix is destined to be the next Grogu, used to distract enemies, press far-off switches and fetch objects.

A scene from Star Wars Outlaws showing one of the forthcoming game's gritty, urban industrial settings
Outlaws sidelines Jedi and Sith in favour of Star Wars’ criminal underworld
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As the galaxy far, far away’s first true open-world adventure, Outlaws offers a Star Wars sandbox of derring-do, and Ubisoft promise a less bloated experience than their previously padded collectathons. Players will be able to seamlessly jump from ground-based combat - both on foot and atop Kay’s personal speeder bike (which has a touch of Harley about it) to grabbing the throttle of her ship, Trailblazer, and taking it to the Empire’s finest in space.

You can even trigger Hyperdrive to blast across the galaxy for some intergalactic tourism - hopefully in a more hands-on way than Starfield, where travel was essentially watching a loading screen.

A scene from Star Wars Outlaws showing Kay Vess and Nix on the run
Kay Vess and Nix on the run

Early previews also promise enough references to please the fanboys - and with cantina bars, Rancor monsters and Gamorrean guards, it’s Star Wars alright.

Star Wars games have a chequered history, and Ubisoft’s open-worlds wouldn’t normally fill me with (a new) hope, but Outlaws is shaping up to be something special, boasting a decidedly noir take on the sci-fi behemoth featuring all the spit and polish you’d expect from the franchise.

Artwork for the forthcoming game Star Wars Outlaws
Artwork for the forthcoming game