After spending about 10 hours on the complete Enhanced Edition of Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge on a shiny new PlayStation VR2, going back to the old version of Meta Quest 2 was like falling down a flight of stairs backwards in slow motion. With the delightful and unmistakable essential The Last Call DLC, in addition to a number of improvements that make use of the latest tactile bells and whistles of the new handset, as well as film-like color depth, found the droids I was looking for. Be warned, though, that you’ll have to sit past the first three hours of the middling opening campaign and its really 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. Waking up in the quarters of a cargo ship, you take on the role of a nameless, voiceless mechanical droid who also happens to transport illegal goods as a side hustle. Its opening moments have you stumbling around the ship while the characters talk to you through your transmitter. But at least you can 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 that you might recognize as the setting for the Star Wars-themed section of the real-life Disney theme parks. Here you meet Seezelslak, the sole owner of the cantina, and Mubo – a droid repair shop owner who is your main smuggling client. At first they come across as outrageously cheesy, with overtly obnoxious lines of dialogue that seem straight out of The Phantom Menace – and you can’t miss any of it. The droid shop and canteen are treated as the two central areas of Galaxy’s Edge, though it’s disappointing that you can’t explore the settlement itself anymore.
From the opening, there’s plenty of chance to live out your Star Wars fantasies with fully modded launchers, satisfying shotguns, throwable lightsabers, missile launchers and dark weapons that can comfortably be two-handed or two-handed if you want. They all look lifelike up close, almost like you’re holding authentic Star Wars props. The full arsenal feels particularly rough due to the haptic feedback and trigger resistance of the Sense controllers, and each burst can push your trigger finger back with an impressive level of force. The All-kit multitool makes otherwise trivial interactions, like solving basic puzzles to open a door or a treasure chest, feel more like a kid playing with a toy that makes a hissing noise or sparks fire or sparks .
If you’re wondering if you’ll ever get to play as a Jedi: you do! But this chapter is more of a side adventure than the main course. Most of your time is spent working your way through Batuu’s visually stunning but linear and simple levels, the first few of which are true offenders in the tutorial category that lead you to death. They all consist almost entirely of a series of corridors with the occasional corner containing a randomly generated treasure chest or sound log – almost like the world of Final Fantasy 7 Remake. It helps make Galaxy’s Edge’s content feel more substantial that you can return to these levels whenever you want to farm the same spawning enemies for loot, and there’s a quest log with enough room for some materially rewarding, if monotonous, side quests.
It’s only when you get to Last Call’s DLC content, which seamlessly expands the original three-hour story into a 10-hour arc, that the characters finally become enjoyable to spend time with. Seezelslak becomes the protagonist of the show, with a head full of stories told so intricately that you’d think you were living them for yourself. In fact, you get to: play through three short but much more satisfying chapters where you step into the shoes of a Jedi and the assassin droid IG-88 from Empire Strikes Back. These new chapters arrive just when they’re needed, cleaning up the palette and expanding the stakes of the story between missions as you work your way towards the legitimately grand finale of Galaxy’s Edge.
Move around the world by tilting your left thumb and teleport by pressing your right thumb in and pointing to your destination. This is pretty standard fare for anyone who’s used a Quest 2 or other room-style VR headset, but it’s still a big step up for anyone whose primary VR experience is with the non-directional Move controls of the original PSVR. It’s disappointing that you can’t move while holding the crouch button, but of course this is VR so you can still crouch in real life and move around. Also, pressing the O button activates your jetpack. It didn’t feel great at first, and it needs a mid-game upgrade to be able to move up there instead of hovering, but after that smooth gliding around the battlefield is pretty cool when I’m not awkwardly falling into invisible boundaries.
Regardless, it’s a lot of fun taking on roving bands of pirates, mercenaries, warmen, vicious local fauna, and the First Order itself. Their AI isn’t as smart, but unlike when I originally played Quest 2, the PS VR2 is able to render enemies at a distance without hiding too much detail, making it much more fun to pick off baddies from range. The confrontations are tense because it only takes a few well-placed shots to kill you or anyone else, but the combat is balanced enough to remain quite entertaining in the face of danger. It helps that you can summon up to three droid allies to follow you and fight alongside you, making battles feel winnable even when you’re outnumbered and outgunned on all sides – but repairing them with your multi-tool can to be painful.
Speaking of tools at your disposal, there’s also a neat scanner activated by a button on your left wrist that lets you register points of interest to a code, and the convenient drag-and-drop inventory system lets you place loot directly into a case for easy handling. Treating yourself is as simple as placing a canister of bacta in front of your face and pulling the trigger to spray it, and it’s natural to pull out your holster, reach into your stash, and throw away hovering droids or grenades in the battle of battle.
And that all sounds terrible. Especially if you’re using 3D audio, it’s a joy to hear the iconic Star Wars noises blasting out into the environment in all directions. Coupled with an immersive original soundtrack and bursts of vibration in headphones simulating blaster bolts whizzing past my face and explosions erupting in my vicinity, I was fully transported into the Star Wars universe. The only major cracks in the illusion were during the occasional glitch, like when a weapon fell into geometry, not to mention: most of the objects you interact with aren’t fully simulated by physics, so they don’t respond to all your movements.