LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is the culmination of all nine Star Wars episodes, including this year's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Warner Bros. Interactive brought Traveller's Tales to E3 2019 this summer to begin promoting the latest, and perhaps even final, installment in the long-running LEGO Star Wars franchise.
Instead of developing a LEGO Star Wars game based on Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, developer Traveller's Tales ultimately decided to wrap things up in one game, in order to coincide with the release of J.J. Abrams' upcoming film. But that also meant completely revamping the series from the ground up, transforming the linear title into an open world adventure filled to the brim with as much Star Wars content as possible.
After seeing an approximately 15-minute gameplay presentation, Screen Rant spoke to designer Mike Consalvey about the upcoming release. Although Consalvey couldn't share details on the voice cast or launch window, or expand upon what new mechanics are in the game, he did shed some light on The Skywalker Saga's economy, combat system, and more.
I just saw the presentation, but I'm curious: You showed us Return of the Jedi, and it was quite big, but how much of each planet is open compared to the original version?
So, as you saw with the Tatooine version there, we're taking the same approach with all the available planets that you can explore for yourself. So all the major beats in the films, you'll see all these different locations that you'll see in the game as well. If it's Tatooine, Naboo, Yavin IV - all these different locations, we're approaching in the same level of scope and size. We're using new tech to make them all more integrated between the environments and the LEGOs themselves; we're taking the same approach across all the different planets.
Can you talk a little bit about the development process on this? Like, when you guys decided when you wanted to do this and if there have been any challenges in revamping the entire series.
Well, of course, the LEGO The Force Awakens was the last Star Wars game we did, and, of course, this year being the upcoming release of The Rise of Skywalker, we really felt: Why go to the next film or the two next films when we could use the new technology that we've got and create an entire saga's worth of gameplay. So we really wanted to get the ball rolling as soon as we possibly could, to get this.. like the pre-production going and what we wanted to achieve with this game. It's been a really crazy couple of years. We're here at E3 and we're just really getting started.
Can you elaborate on the technology you mentioned?
Although I can't go into details about the specifics of the tech, but the tech itself has allowed us to, as I've mentioned before about the different level of integration with the LEGOs and the environments (with the sand and the different effects between the characters and the creatures that you can see all around), also the new combo system, the new perspective, and stuff like that. The new tech that we're using - and the guys at home are doing a really good job on - is making sure we're using those to our advantage and making it more authentic towards what LEGO Star Wars should be and what we expect it to be.
So what's going on with the game's economy? There are Kyber Bricks now instead of the Gold, and they mentioned they can be used to customize vehicles, characters, etc.
So yeah, with Kyber Bricks, essentially... if you know about the history of LEGO games, in general, we have Gold Bricks. Kyber Bricks is that sort of same collectible; the method of collecting Kyber Bricks is pretty much the same as Gold Bricks. But in this instance, we're using them to add different upgrades to vehicles, level of customization, and that sort of thing. The more you collect along the way, the more you can get, as well as the use of Studs, which is traditional with our game. It's collecting the LEGO Studs that [allows you] to purchase different characters or different items within the game. So it's sticking to what we usually do in LEGO Star Wars games, but actually just making it more in-depth in terms of the unlockables and that sort of thing.
For those characters, is any real money used to purchase them?
No, no. It's just all going to be in the game.
It's ALL in the game?
Yeah, you'll just get characters along the way; the more of the story you progress through.
Everything is earned through gameplay?
Everything is through gameplay, yeah. Absolutely.
How many characters do you start out with?
From the start, it depends on the episode that you started on. So, for example, if you've started on A New Hope, then you'll have the characters that you'd play as during those major level sequences. But the more levels you playthrough, and those key moments that you've completed, then those characters become part of your roster. But the more worlds you explore, you'll end up with more characters along the way, in those contexts as well. There's going to be a lot. I mean, we're talking 200 at this point. We're never going to put a final number on it, just because there's so many characters that we want to get in the game. But at the moment, it's going to be the biggest character roster that we've ever had in a LEGO game.
Just to clarify, if I start on A New Hope, I get those characters, but what if instead of finishing that, I go to Empire? Do I get all those characters as well, to start off with?
Yes, you can, but in the story context, [you get] the characters that are participating in that level sequence. So when you're around in the hub locations, like Tatooine, for example, you can freely switch between all those different characters as well. But then if you want to play in the story levels, in freeplay, then you can jump and change into which characters you want to play as.
So I could use Kylo on Tatooine?
Exactly, yeah. If you've played enough episodes to get Kylo Ren, then you can take him to Naboo in Episode I. That is entirely up to you.
What about the dynamic environment? I just saw that you can use the Force for almost anything. Even on the creatures. So what was the thought process on choosing to incorporate everything rather than specific objects?
It's all about freedom, with this game. That's been the guiding principle of the game, really - the level of freedom the player has. So we've had to really think about what players would do if they had the LEGO pieces in their hands themselves; they would put them where they like. So using the Force to be able to interact with the LEGO around you is no different to how you would imagine yourself playing with LEGOs in real life. Being able to use the Force to lift the LEGO objects around stuff, you can use that to your advantage: being able to scale different locations that you previously weren't able to go; you can use them to lift them up and throw them to attack enemies. You can even find a way to grab a Kyber Brick that's just out of reach; you could maybe lift up R2-D2 to where you need to go, switch to him, and collect it. It's just all about finding a way for how you want to play the game. So one could maybe play through a level one way, they tell their friends about it, and they could be like, "No, I did it this way." So it's that level of freedom to be able to have these different experiences within the same environments throughout the levels - the hubs and stuff like that. It's all dynamic that way, it's all about the level of freedom and how you want to play.
With the combo system and also the ADS, do you feel that the combat is perhaps too complex for a LEGO game, at least for general players?
We pride ourselves in making our games accessible. Accessibility is a really big thing - the most important thing - to us, so we need to be able to adjust how we design our games based on how people want to be able to play the game. Games have evolved, and gamers themselves are playing games in all sorts of different ways. So, for example, the level of success Fortnite has, that's a sort of demographic where people are jumping on what used to be adult-themed sort of games but they're now more appealing to youngsters. So games evolve with the times, and the audience changes as well. We're no different in terms of being able to find these new ways to play and modernize into what we expect from gamers and what gamers expect to get from their games now.
Aside from the combo system and the dynamic environment, what other gameplay mechanics have you guys incorporated here that weren't in the original LEGO Star Wars games?
In the original LEGO Star Wars games? So, in the demo you've just seen... they were using the Force, using the combat, and all that. Well, each character has their own way to be able to interact, because some characters will have blasters, some characters will have lightsabers, some will have melee sort of weapons. Staffs like Rey's, for example. It's just about using all the different ways to get through [the levels]. So really it's about amping up the combat.
What about the voice cast? You've revealed that you're going to have a full voice cast...
We have full voice recordings, yeah.
Are they the original actors themselves or people that...
We have a voice cast to do these voices.
Can't share the details on that?
That's... no, we can't share those details.
Also, I know it's the Skywalker saga, but why isn't Rogue One in there - or even Solo - because they are still part of that story, part of that original...
The Skywalker saga is the culmination of Episodes I through IX. That's Lucasfilm... when they came to the Star Wars Celebration. When they revealed The Rise of Skywalker, they were saying this is the Skywalker saga. So we wanted to really represent that in terms of what they wanted and also what we wanted to make. So Episodes I through IX, that is the Skywalker saga in its literal form. But when it comes to Rogue One and Solo, they're sort of Star Wars Stories, so they're completely separate in that regard to what the Skywalker saga represents. At this time, the Skywalker saga is Episodes I through IX. We're really making sure that we're doing the best to make that the most authentic culmination of all those stories in one complete package. Because nine movies in one game, that's a pretty big chunk of content there. So, as you can imagine, there's a lot that goes into that. Right now, we're really focused on making sure those nine are really well represented in the game.
So since this has everything in the Skywalker saga, what's your post-launch content going to be like? If you have any.
We don't have any current plans for post-launch content. After launch, we'll support it, but as of right now, it's just the Skywalker saga.
Do you have a launch window in mind?
No launch window, but 2020.