After spending about 10 hours in the comprehensive Enhanced Edition of Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge on a shiny new PlayStation VR2, going back to the old Meta Quest 2 version felt a lot like falling up a flight of stairs backward in slow motion. With the delightful and inarguably essential Last Call DLC in addition to a bevy of improvements that make use of every last one of the new headset’s haptic bells and whistles, plus the movie-like color depth, I’ve found the droids I was looking for. Be warned, though, that you’ll have to stick around beyond the first three hours of the middling original campaign and its genuinely bad writing, but after that it picks up the pace and puts on a real Star Wars show.
Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge begins on a subdued note. Upon waking up in the quarters of a cargo ship, you step into the role of a nameless, voiceless droid mechanic who also happens to smuggle illicit goods as a side hustle. Its early moments have you stumbling aboard the ship while characters talk at you through your transmitter. But at least you get a nice scenic shot of interstellar travel from your ship’s observatory before things go to the dark side.
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A crash-landing puts you on the planetary surface of Batuu, a backwater world marked by a podunk settlement you might recognize as the setting of the Star Wars-themed section of Disney’s real-life theme parks. Here you meet Seezelslak, the cantina’s sole proprietor, and Mubo – a droid repair shop owner who’s your main smuggling client. They come across as exasperatingly cheesy at first, with overtly obnoxious dialogue lines that seem like they were pulled directly out of The Phantom Menace – and you can’t skip any of it. The droid shop and the cantina are treated as Galaxy’s Edge’s two central hub areas, though it’s disappointing you can’t explore any more of the settlement itself.
From the opening, there are plenty of chances to live out your Star Wars fantasies with fully modeled blasters, satisfying shotguns, throwable lightsabers, rocket launchers, and obscure weapons that can be comfortably dual-wielded or two-handed if you wish. They all look lifelike up close, almost as if you’re holding authentic Star Wars props. The fleshed-out arsenal feels especially punchy due to the haptic feedback and trigger resistance of the Sense controllers, and each blast can repel your trigger finger with an impressive level of force. The All-kit multi-tool makes otherwise trivial interactions like solving basic puzzles to open a door or a treasure chest feel more like you’re a kid playing with a toy that makes a whirring noise or shoots fire or sparks.
If you’re wondering if you ever get to play as a Jedi: you do! But that chapter is more of a side adventure than the main course. Most of your time is spent blasting your way through Batuu’s visually impressive but linear and straightforward levels, the first few of which are true offenders in the category of tutorial-ing you to death. They are all almost entirely made up of a series of hallways with the occasional nook containing a randomly generated treasure chest or audio log – almost like Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s world. It helps make Galaxy’s Edge’s content feel more substantial that you can return to these levels any time you’d like to farm the same respawning enemies for loot, and there’s a quest journal with enough space for a few materially rewarding albeit monotonous side quests.
It’s only when you get to the Last Call DLC content, which seamlessly expands the original three-hour story into a 10-hour arc, that the characters do eventually become enjoyable to spend time with. Seezelslak becomes the star of the show, with a head full of stories told so intricately you’d think you were living them for yourself. In fact, you actually do get to: you play through three short but much more satisfying chapters wherein you step into the shoes of a Jedi and the assassin droid IG-88 from Empire Strikes Back. These new chapters arrive exactly when they need to, clearing the palette and widening the story stakes between quests as you move toward Galaxy’s Edge’s legitimately grand finale mission.
You move around the world by tilting your left thumbstick and teleporting by pushing your right thumbstick inward and pointing at your destination. This is pretty standard fare for anyone who’s used a Quest 2 or other roomscale-style VR headset, but is still a big step up for anyone whose primary VR experience is with the original PSVR’s directionless Move controllers. It’s disappointing that you can’t move around while holding the crouch button, but of course this is VR so you can still just crouch in real life and move. Also, pressing the O button activates your jetpack. It didn’t feel great at first, and needs a mid-game upgrade before you can move around up there instead of just hovering, but after that smoothly gliding around the field of battle is pretty cool when I wasn’t awkwardly running into invisible boundaries.
Regardless, it’s great fun to face off against roving bands of pirates, mercenaries, battle droids, vicious local fauna, and the First Order itself. Their AI isn’t all that smart, but unlike when I originally played on the Quest 2, the PS VR2 is able to render enemies at a distance without obscuring too much detail, making it a lot more fun to pick bad guys off at range. Standoffs are tense because it only takes a few well-placed shots to kill you or anyone else, but combat is balanced enough to remain sufficiently entertaining in the face of danger. It helps that you can summon up to three droid allies to follow you around and fight on your side, making battles feel winnable even when you’re outnumbered and outgunned on all sides – but repairing them with your multitool can be a pain.
Speaking of tools at your disposal, there’s also a neat scanner activated by a button on your left wrist that lets you catalog points of interest into a codex, and the convenient drag-and-drop inventory system lets you place loot directly into a pouch for easy management. Healing yourself is as simple as positioning a bacta canister in front of your face and pressing the trigger to spray it, and it feels natural to pull out your pouch, reach into your inventory, and throw floating droids or grenades into the fray of battle.
And it all sounds terrific. Especially if you’re using 3D audio, it’s a treat to hear the iconic Star Wars blaster noises ricochet through the environment in all directions. Mixed with a riveting original soundtrack and bursts of headset vibration simulating blaster bolts whizzing past my face and explosions erupting in my vicinity, I found myself fully transported into the Star Wars universe. The only major cracks in the illusion were during the occasional glitch, like when a weapon fell through the geometry, not to mention: most of the objects you interact with aren’t fully physics-simulated so they don’t respond to all your movements.