After years of development, the hugely ambitious Lego Star Wars game, The Skywalker Saga, is finally set for release in April this year. It’s the first new entry in the series since 2016’s Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so clearly fans are geared up and eager for the next installment.
A brand-new trailer for The Skywalker Saga is out now, showcasing the game’s sprawling and varied worlds and highlighting some of its many, many playable characters. The trailer also confirms an April 5 release date, which is right around the corner.
To learn more about The Skywalker Saga, GameSpot spoke with senior producer James Burgon. Burgon discussed the highly ambitious nature of the game–it adapts all nine Skywalker films!–and touched on how the combat mechanics are different and improved with the new installment. Burgon also spoke to us about how the game allows players to start from any trilogy and the freedom and opportunities that allows for. “As freedom was one of our key pillars during development, we knew we had to give fans the option to jump straight into the trilogy they wanted to,” Burgon said.
The Lego games are known for their humor, even when they touch on heavy and dramatic material–and there is no shortage of those elements in Star Wars. Burgon said TT Games worked alongside Lucasfilm Games and The Lego Group to ensure a balance between staying true to the source material but also imbuing certain scenes with a “softer, more lighthearted touch.”
“That’s British humour for you; you can never take yourself too seriously,” Burgon said.
The producer also took some time to speak about The Skywalker Saga’s gigantic roster of characters–there are 400 playable characters and more than 800 in all, counting NPCs.
“The beauty of Star Wars is that every character, no matter how little screen time, naturally ends up having a backstory we can dive into and create a quest around,” Burgon said. “The Star Wars galaxy is so rich with creatures and alien races that it was difficult to define a cut off point, but I think hardcore fans of Star Wars are going to be pleasantly surprised at who made it into the roster.”
GameSpot’s full interview with Burgon follows below. The Skywalker Saga launches on April 5 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
The Skywalker Saga adapts NINE movies. That’s so many. Why go so big? And how did you go about boiling it down to avoid the package coming across as overwhelming to players?
With an incredible IP like Star Wars spanning decades with millions of adoring fans, it’s hard not to go big as you really can’t bring yourself to leave anything out.
LEGO Star Wars The Videogame came out over 15 years ago, and it’s a joy to behold how we’ve come so far over those years. We always try to outdo ourselves with each LEGO game we make and this one is no exception. There’s an entire galaxy at your fingertips, filled with rich, vibrant planets begging for you to disembark your ship and roam around in. It’s a celebration of Star Wars through and through and needed to be as epic in scale as the saga we were retelling.
We know that players love exploring our Freeplay content so we made the Story levels snappier and more action-focused. Having pre-levels take place on the planet surfaces makes for a more cohesive experience overall and makes the game feel more like a journey, rather than two separate modes of Story and Freeplay. Players can hop between trilogies or enter Galaxy Freeplay to explore at their own pace if they choose. Having that freedom means players can take their time and immerse themselves without feeling overwhelmed.
The Skywalker Saga launches in April
The ability to start the game from any trilogy sounds great–I personally enjoy that sense of freedom when a game allows for it. What drove that decision from your design perspective?
From the offset, we wanted to let players start at the trilogy they connected with the most. Reiterating the fact that the Skywalker saga spans decades and fans of all ages, we knew players would want to jump into the action of their fondest trilogy; Newcomers to the Star Wars galaxy may want to jump straight to Jakku with Rey and BB-8, or our more veteran players may want to start where it all began on the Tantive IV. As freedom was one of our key pillars during development, we knew we had to give fans the option to jump straight into the trilogy they wanted to.
“From the offset, we wanted to let players start at the trilogy they connected with the most. Reiterating the fact that the Skywalker saga spans decades and fans of all ages, we knew players would want to jump into the action of their fondest trilogy” — Burgon
I read that combat is new and different in The Skywalker Saga–can you walk us through how combat works and what’s new and changed this time around?
Combat has had a massive overhaul in this game. Enemies will block or even try to rush you, and you can either combat roll out of the way, counter these ambushes with a special attack, or switch up attacks to break their block. We’ve also introduced Character Classes, which all come with their own upgrades. For example, you can upgrade Protocol Droids to emit shockwaves when they detach their upper and lower halves, stunning all enemies in a small radius. We wanted to make combat overall more engaging, with more ways to use character quirks to your advantage and add to that sense of power and progression.
Force powers can be used with free-aim, allowing you to grab any nearby LEGO rocks or debris and hurl it at any enemies nearby – which is extremely satisfying to do with explosive barrels or even Battle Droids themselves. Same with blasters, you can now free-aim and shoot enemies with precision, allowing complete control on how you save the galaxy and defeat the Empire.
TT’s games are always imbued with a sense of humor and levity, even if the fate of the galaxy is hanging in the balance. How are you approaching humor with The Skywalker Saga, which deals with some heavy topics and themes?
That’s British humour for you; you can never take yourself too seriously. Working so closely with Lucasfilm Games and The LEGO Group was great in ensuring a balance where we’re staying as true as possible to the source material, but also approaching those moments with a softer, more lighthearted touch.
It’s incredible that even after all these years we can still find a great gag to make or a unique take on a classic moment, and that really is just down to the sheer creativity of the fantastic team we have here at TT. Despite this being our 4th outing to the galaxy far, far away, there were still hundreds of new ideas being shared on how we can inject some humour into certain scenes the only way LEGO minifigs can.
I have always been impressed by how these LEGO games, ostensibly at least, seem to be aimed at a younger audience but they truly appeal to a wide range of ages. What’s the secret there?
I think we can admit we’re all children at heart, regardless of our age. When we work with such globally known IP’s that everyone knows and loves, there’s a comforting feeling in taking a break and seeing your favourite characters roaming around in LEGO form that I believe appeals to anyone and everyone.
Humour is always a key point; there’s cutscenes in this game that I have of course seen hundreds of times during development but they still never fail to make me laugh. It’s finding the balance between accessibility, whimsy and familiarity, juxtaposed with the true fan service we provide that keeps all players, young and old, engaged and enjoying our games.
“It’s finding the balance between accessibility, whimsy and familiarity, juxtaposed with the true fan service we provide that keeps all players, young and old, engaged and enjoying our games.” — Burgon
It’s been a number of years since the last LEGO Star Wars game, which was The Force Awakens in 2016. How have you seen the gaming landscape evolve since then and how is The Skywalker Saga being developed to accommodate what gamers want in 2022?
I think it’s clear to see in the footage of our newest gameplay trailer that we have reimagined what a LEGO game is with LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, while keeping it familiar enough to feel like an evolution of the formula. Take the holoprojector for example – it’s more than just a simple navigation tool. You can keep track of all current quests, set waypoints across the galaxy, use studs to purchase rumours on how to unlock certain characters and vehicles, and much much more. We’ve also naturally taken advantage of the new generation of console hardware where possible to deliver the best-looking LEGO game to date.
You’ve got, I think, hundreds of playable characters. Obviously the big ones are there–but what was the decision-making process for choosing which of the less widely known characters to include?
The beauty of Star Wars is that every character, no matter how little screen time, naturally ends up having a backstory we can dive into and create a quest around. It was a struggle to keep the playable number below 400, but in terms of NPC’s I think we almost hit 800! The Star Wars galaxy is so rich with creatures and alien races that it was difficult to define a cut off point, but I think hardcore fans of Star Wars are going to be pleasantly surprised at who made it into the roster.
Anything else people should know?
Just that the team and I want to say thanks to the gamers and fans for their patience and sticking with us whilst we work hard on delivering the biggest and most ambitious LEGO game ever. We’re just as excited for April as you all are, and we can’t wait for players of all ages to immerse themselves in exploring the LEGO Star Wars galaxy we’ve created.