We’ve played through the latest Star Wars VR adventure from ILMxLAB and came away with a mixed bag of feelings. Read on for our full Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge review!
The amount of enjoyment you’ll get from Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge depends almost entirely on how big of a Star Wars fan you are. If you’re the kind of Star Wars fan that slurps up any bit of new information or new content, then this is sure to be an amazing thrill ride across the vistas of Batuu. But if you’re a more casual fan or simply interested in a new, fun VR game — it’s less of s sure bet.
In this latest Star Wars VR adventure you take on the role of a relatively run-of-the-mill person in the galaxy that gets all wrapped up in a shipment and delivery of some high-value cargo. What follows is a series of location-based missions across Batuu that feel and seem to be much grander than they really are.
It’s all smoke and mirrors though — a concept ILMxLAB is well-versed in — because the entire game is actually just a linear corridor shooter full of waist-high cover points, but instead of corridors it’s Batuu canyon alleyways. That doesn’t mean it’s not a fun corridor shooter, but it’s still pretty simple all the same. You go from point A to point B, find some credits here and there, maybe open a few crates with nice weapons inside, and shoot dozens of bad guys along the way. That’s the whole game more or less.
Some of the best pieces of Star Wars fiction are simple though and Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge gets a lot right in terms of both being a piece of Star Wars content and in terms of being an escapist fantasy for VR gamers. Things start off slowly enough with you aboard a starship traveling through space. You do some mundane things like scan cargo, open up control panels, and press a few buttons. Notably, it’s all very interactive and feels quite good. Then things go off the rails, as they usually do, and you’re gunning down raiders before you know it.
You can tell ILMxLAB has spent a lot of time in VR development over the last few years between Vader Immortal, The VOID projects, and even Trials on Tatooine down to how the UI is represented. Your left wrist has a datapad on it with buttons to pull up things like objective markers and the cargo scanner and your chest pouch acts as the inventory. There are hip holsters for two guns and your multi-tool is placed on your chest with an electric pulse tool, screwdriver, and soldering burner.
One thing about the inventory that irked me is that it only displays the last four or five most recently accessed items (like heals or collectibles) unless you to press a floating arrow to scroll down to the rest. Usually what I need is below the fold of most recent items, so I ended up needing to press the button 80% of the time. It should just automatically unfurl the entire inventory for ease of access.
There are lots of items at your disposal, but they’re all fairly simplistic. There’s only a handful of guns, such as single-shot blasters, rapid fire blasters, rifle blasters, and a shotgun blaster. You never get the chance to upgrade anything or build an arsenal of any kind. Instead of storing weapons and looting ammo every gun just runs out of blaster shots inexplicably after a couple minutes so you constantly just drop weapons and pick up new ones. It keeps you on the hunt for guns, but doesn’t really feel lore-friendly — it would make more sense to search for fuel cells or something to recharge a blaster.
Grabbing items was sometimes a bit finnicky too. You have a short-range telekinesis-like ability to snap items into your hands by reaching out for them, which is obviously a lore-appropriate thing, but it’s also just a typical VR mechanic. Unfortunately the range is very short and the “hitbox” for grabbing something is extremely tiny.
There are a few different colors of sentry droids you can deploy that hover around you while shooting back at enemies, but they’ll typically get destroyed so quickly it’s not worth the time investment to repair them.
Enemies are pretty basic too. They’ll appear in the level, stand up straight for a second, then run over to cover, wait a bit, then pop up and let you shoot them. Sometimes they won’t even make it that far and will just sort of stand there. If you rush them, they don’t really have any idea how to react. There doesn’t appeare to be much logic in the way of maneuvering combat or responding to you as anything other than a target for blaster shots every now and then.
If you make yourself visible for long, they will hit you though. Even on Normal difficulty they’re great shots — unlike your typical Stormtrooper — and if you crank it up to Hard then you go down pretty fast. Luckily you’ve got a jetpack that zooms you up in the air or down to the ground quickly and it inexplicably makes you a tougher target if you’re hovering in the air for some reason despite the fact that you’re exposed and should actually be easier to hit.
Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge is around 3-4 hours long for a typical playthrough, which isn’t terribly short given what this is supposed to be, but it just ends up feeling like a preview of a much larger game that doesn’t exist. I didn’t look and search every single nook and cranny and I did die a fair handful of times, but I wouldn’t say I rushed things either. It’s just a very linear game without much room to explore.
It’s like walking through a new region at Disneyland only to be told you have to stay in a single file line with your tour group and can’t explore at all or go on any of the bigger rides. Speaking of which — this literally takes place on Batuu, the planet that Disney established in the fiction specifically for Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. When you’re at the cantina you can look out the window and see the Millennium Falcon parked outside in the exact courtyard that you walk through in the literal theme park at Disneyland. That alone may make it worth the price of admission for big Star Wars fans.
The most complicated part of this whole offering is the painfully brief short story in which you take on the role of a Jedi-in-training in the Temple of Darkness story at the actual Jedi temple as you interact with the one and only Yoda, voiced by Frank Oz himself. I’m not even the biggest Star Wars fan but I still got chills. Most of the bits from Vader Immortal I loved returned for this 15-minute segment as I got a lightsaber back in my hand, force throwing ability, force push and pull, and more.
Compared to the linear corridors of Batuu, this was about as thrilling of a departure as you could hope for. It just ends so very quickly you hardly have time to embrace it. The ending for this segment is rife with emotion and tension, which is particularly impressive given how short it all is, but it just made me wish the entire game focused on this story because it’s far more interesting and compelling from a narrative perspective and from a gameplay perspective. I desperately want a full VR adventure from the perspective of a powerful Jedi. Yet again, it’s a tease for a game that doesn’t exist. Thankfully, more side stories like this are planned for the future.
Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge Review Final Verdict
For Star Wars fans, Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge is an exciting and thrilling adventure across the canyons of Batuu. As a shooter campaign it’s pretty basic with straightforward levels, uninspired gameplay, and simple enemies. But as a piece of Star Wars content, it absolutely sells you on the immersion of it all. It’s a bit brief at just around 4 hours long with a painfully short side story about a Jedi training under Yoda, but it has a great foundation to build from. This is the kind of VR game you buy for the source material and end up spending time with for, well, the source material. Ultimately it’s a fun, simple proof of concept that feels like a preview for a larger game that doesn’t exist (yet).
For more on how we arrive at our scores, check out our review guidelines.
Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge is out now for Oculus Quest for $24.99. This review was based on time played using an Oculus Quest 2.
Editor’s Note: After publication we also added a brief section on the “grabbing” telekinesis function.