Anyone who has been to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge leaves wanting more. The Disney theme parks located in Florida and California are a mere 14 acres on what’s supposed to be an entire planet. While it’s fun to fly the Millennium Falcon, build a lightsaber, or drink some blue milk, you leave thinking about what stories are possible behind closed doors, beyond the rocks, and across the planet. Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge allows you to live those possibilities.
The latest creation from ILMxLab is a virtual reality experience that takes the player — in this case, a droid repair technician whose ship crashes on Batuu — outside of the confines of Black Spire Outpost and into the wildlife beyond. There you must help find your lost cargo, which may or may not have crucial goods vital to a potential Resistance encampment. Gizmodo checked out Tales From the Galaxy’s Edge on an Oculus Quest 2 provided to us by Oculus.
That’s the main story of Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge, which is roughly broken into three main sections and takes between three to four hours to complete. Along the way, you explore different environments, solve puzzles, acquire goods, and blast a bunch of bad guys. Which, as a pure gaming experience, is fun but rather familiar. You move down a fairly linear path, complete the tasks ahead of you and reach the end.
What makes the experience worthwhile though is just how gorgeous everything in the world is. Every rock, canister, and sound has an attention to detail that makes it feel specifically Star Wars. Whether it’s how you hold a blaster, strap on your storage pouch, or unscrew a screw with your multi-tool, all of the nuance takes a basic game to the next level. Truly, it’s just a delight to take a Remote Training Droid (like the one Luke uses in A New Hope), throw it in the air, and let it be your sidekick, shooting down the Guavian Death Gang surrounding you.
Interestingly enough, the best parts of Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge aren’t in that main story either — they’re the in-between moments, which largely take place in Seezelslak’s Cantina. This is where you can play the jukebox, have a drink, shoot darts, or look down on the Black Spire Outpost outside. Seezelslak (voiced by Resistance alum Bobby Moynihan) tells stories about the galaxy, randomly cracks savage Star Wars jokes, and complains about his life. It feels like an actual bar.
The way the game is set just around the corner from the park, while still having the feel of the themed land, adds another layer of interactive authenticity. If you’ve been to Galaxy’s Edge before, you’ll know exactly where you’re standing in relation to it within the game. If you haven’t, seeing hints of all the activity and detail might make you want to throw off your headset and leap into the real-world location (which is only half-possible at the moment).
Seezelslak’s is also where you access ancient tales set in the era of The High Republic, the new section of Star Wars storytelling, told largely in print and set hundreds of years before the movies. While that might seem unrelated to Galaxy’s Edge, High Republic stories happened on Batuu too. So, at a certain point in the game, you complete a task and are magically whisked away into the persona of a High Republic Jedi padawan whose Master uncovered an ancient Sith artefact. The resulting encounter is trippy, intense, and very cool. Though it’s only a small section of the game, more expansions like this are coming, and it’s a great addition to the experience.
Of course, this being virtual reality, not everything is seamless. The game makes you figure out a bunch of things on your own, which can be frustrating if you haven’t played a lot of VR before. For example, the game doesn’t tell you this, but all the blasters eventually stop working. You shoot and shoot and vent and vent but eventually, they all either run out of ammo or break. To combat this, you can hold extra blasters on your belt, which are dropped by most enemies, but I didn’t know that until halfway through the game and kept running around to find new blasters.
Also, in the High Republic section, the mechanic to use the Force is intuitive and exactly as it is in the last ILMxLab Star Wars game, Vader Immortal. You kind of put your hand up and squeeze like Darth Vader choking someone. So, if you’ve played the Vader game, you might have a small advantage. If you haven’t, it might take you a second to figure it out.
Those gripes aside, Tales From the Galaxy’s Edge really works, especially if you’re a Star Wars fan. The story has a satisfying and complete arc, even though there are more parts coming. It’s filled with nods and winks to the franchise that enhance the overall experience and make the otherwise straightforward story and gameplay worth completing. If you’re just a VR fan and unfamiliar with Star Wars, you’d probably still enjoy it, but you won’t get the same enjoyment out of it. This is absolutely a game that was made by Star Wars fans, for Star Wars fans. I enjoyed my time with it immensely and will eagerly be awaiting what happens with future expansions. It truly feels like a Star Wars vacation, both to Batuu and to the past.
Tales From the Galaxy’s Edge is available now for Oculus Quest and costs $38.99.