Not going to lie, I’m a massive Star Wars fan – brought up on the original trilogy, fully bought into the extended universe (retconned or not), and don’t even hate any of the prequels/sequels/Rian Johnson – so of course I was going to be all over Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition when it released for PSVR2. Knowing it had been out for a couple of years on the Oculus systems there’s obviously some trepidation on how it would translate to newer hardware, but ILMxLAB’s work in previous titles shows they know what they’re doing, so confidence was pretty high. Tech concerns tossed aside then, the real questions actually boil down to whether the story itself could engage, knowing that it isn’t putting you in the shoes of a Rebel hero or Imperial villain; and would it actually be a decent length experience?
Playing the part of a droid repair mechanic, you’re introduction to the larger Star Wars universe is unloading cargo… yup, it’s VR so we have to start with something relatively mundane to showcase the “real world” level of interaction. Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition is interesting in that it embraces the ordinary and eschews any kind of over the top bombastic introduction, it’s here to ground you as the player and cement that feeling of ordinary citizen thrust into a wider conflict. Of course, things aren’t going to stay simple for very long, and it only takes a couple of radio messages from your captain to realise that your ship is about to be boarded and your life is in danger. The right course of action? Grab a blaster and fight to the escape pods! A crash landing later and you find yourself on the relatively deserted world of Batuu with nothing to do but follow rough instructions from your employer, and listen to a cantina owner to spin you stories. Might as well make yourself useful then.
It’s a fairly light structure to the game, and the main actions are to recover cargo from the freighter crash which brings you into contact with the rebellion against the First Order (yep, this is set well after RotJ). There aren’t many main missions, though they are quite immersive given that you’re wandering the levels, surviving shootouts and interacting with all manner of objects dotted around. Each time a level is complete you’ll return to Seezelslak’s cantina, and usually that brings on a tale which turns into a playable level. This is where Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition brings in the more familiar action as he recounts isolated stories of Jedi feats and bounty hunter exploits; and you play these characters with their associated abilities. It’s a great way to bring in lightsabre combat and force powers without breaking the fact that you’re “just” a droid repair technician. What works best of all is that the controls map across without issue and to a degree it’s so intuitive you barely need any instruction.
Even though Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition hasn’t been built specifically for Sony’s PSVR2, the game has been adapted to use the Sense Controllers, and as you’d expect the Left and Right control your hands respectively. Using the grip button holds onto items (which can be set to toggle in the options if you don’t like holding it down constantly), and pressing the trigger operates whatever you’re holding. Blasters, tools and the aforementioned lightsabre are all easy to manipulate and use this way, and the tracking and handling are spot on. There are some items which don’t need a trigger to activate, like thermal detonators, and you simply lob these at enemies and watch them do their job. Storage is managed through holsters for weapons on each hip and shoulder, and ancillary items are simply dropped in a convenient belt pouch. As a repair tech you’ve an ever useful multitool on your belt too that’s in easy reach, and fortunately it can never be dropped and lost. Everything else can be though, so pay attention to where it falls if you think you’ll need to pick it up and stash it.
As the core gameplay loop is effectively an FPS, there’s a decent variety of weapons to experiment with, and none require reloading. They do however run out of charge which forces you to pick up others once they’re depleted. Weapons can overheat too, so each incorporates a venting lever to pull that puts it back in firing mode which is a good touch and needed mid-fight. In terms of locomotion, Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition is fully first person with a plethora of comfort options to use depending on how good your stomach is. The super smooth display means that actually turning everything off and experiencing the game de-sanitised isn’t particularly uncomfortable, and I’d recommend doing this in conjunction with sitting down so that you get the most out of it. Even the jetpack with full movement (when upgraded) is easy to cope with so definitely start off on maximum and dial things back if it starts to get queasy. In fact, the only control I found annoying was actually the teleport option which is always there by default because you use it to “jump” and “drop”. It’s mapped to the down motion of the right analogue stick, yet pops up at the slightest whisper of movement when you rest your thumb on it, and without a cancel option you find yourself zipping around unexpectedly.
Visually there’s loads of detail going on in nearly every location, and sometimes it’s the unexpected places that impress the most. The opening section where a blast shield opens to give a view of Batuu from space is particularly impressive, and so is (weirdly) a lift in Narshadaar. It all has that Star Wars sense of place to it, and there are loads of nods to the films and extended universe in the items kicking around, as well as the characters. Audio is very good as you’d expect from this studio and the assets they can lay their hands on, and the voice acting is top notch with new characters and returning favourites voiced wonderfully, and with the original actors where relevant. Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition takes advantage of the boost in power with the PS5 and the foveated rendering, and loading is reduced a decent amount too. It’s surprisingly comfortable to spend a few hours in here as well, with most games like this I end up taking a break every hour, but found 3 or more were passing by as I got absorbed in the world.
All in this is a cracking VR title, and it’s been well updated for newer hardware. Does it fully leverage what the PlayStation hardware combo can offer? Probably not given what you can experience in the likes of Horizon Call of the Mountain and The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR, but the quality realisation of the Blackspire Outpost and the associated people and places make it a lot of fun to visit and play around in. Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition offers up a great variety of gameplay with options to revisit areas and missions, as well as to hunt collectables and discover lore, and it’ll probably keep you going for around 8 – 10 hours if you want to see everything. Granted, it’ll probably seem pretty generic shooter fare for those that aren’t into the franchise, yet it should be near the top of the list for showing off what a well written, constructed and presented VR game should be. Fans of Star Wars shouldn’t hesitate, get yourself to Batuu now.
A PSVR2 review copy of Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition was provided by ILMxLAB’s PR team, and the game is available now exclusively on PS5 for around £40.
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