There are few things that bring me as much joy as science fiction and theme parks. When they are combined it’s a dream come true, and nowhere is that more true than Galaxy’s Edge – the in-universe corner of both Disneyland and Disney World that transports you to the world of Batuu. Batuu is on the edge of the Outer Rim Territories, where anything can happen. You are as likely to run into the Resistance as you are the First Order, and just about everyone shares a drink at the local cantina. Unfortunately, not everyone can make the trek to either coast’s Mouse House, so virtual reality is the next best thing. Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge isn’t a park simulator though, merely the setting for one of the best Star Wars games we’ve ever played. Let’s fire up the PlayStation VR2 and set course for a galaxy far, far away.
When Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge was released on the Oculus Quest 2, it did so in two parts, with the first coming in November of 2020, and the second in September of the following year. I can’t quite remember why, but all of us seemed to be stuck indoors with more solo time on our hands at this point. Fast forward to now and we see the launch of Sony’s new VR headset, the PlayStation VR2, on the horizon, and a combined single SKU adventure entitled Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition along with it. More than a mere port, this game was built from the ground up to take full advantage of the capabilities of Sony’s new HMD, and I was eager to get back into the boots of our droid repair technician and unlikely hero.
Without ruining the story, you are a simple transport and repair jockey trying to make your way in the universe when a rather nasty Guavian Death Gang, led by a female Quarren pirate named Tara Rashin, decides that your cargo was really their cargo. There was some discussion, threats were made, cargo crates were jettisoned, and we all agreed to disagree. It was a lot to reflect on as our currently-on-fire ship hurtled towards the planet surface below. The standard start to any new adventure, right?
The funny thing about VR is that the screenshots never do the game justice. Often they are polished up to look far better than they will inside the HMD, and most often they look downright staged to showcase action that just isn’t’ in the game. This may be the first time that the screens undersell what’s on offer here. I knew that the ILMxLAB team had upgraded the graphics engine, but I didn’t expect this. My character reached out and put on their own helmet and I was transported to a whole different world. Combined with the haptics (more on those in a minute), the immersion was immediate and amazing. I was officially ready to get lost in Batuu all over again.
More than just visuals, the game leans into all of Sony’s new tech in a big way. Foveated rendering and eye tracking means the game always looks best where you are looking. Picking up the headset in-game and putting it on was a surprise, and my first introduction to on-headset haptics – something you’ll become very familiar with should you get hit in the face, which with the company I am keeping these days is bound to happen. The adaptive triggers on the Sense controllers make every weapon feel different, best illustrated in the early moments of the game when I found myself with a rifle in one hand and a blaster in the other. 3D positional audio is a huge improvement, as I can now hear when I’ve got friends and foes in front and behind. Hearing a blaster bolt bounce off of a nearby cargo crate only to whiz past my head is as immersive as it is a “OMGWHEREDIDTHATCOMEFROM?!” moment. The team not only leaned into the tech – they are practically showcasing it
The best part about Sony’s new headset (that PCVR players have enjoyed, but PSVR1 players have not) is roomscale movement. Rather than being confined to a small standing room only space, you can now reach out and use a few feet in all directions. Better still, you won’t have to worry about always facing towards a lighthouse or a camera, as the PSVR2 has its own tracking – you are free to move about the universe.
To help with moving around, Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge features a number of comfort options. I suffer from severe motion sickness nausea, making those very important to me. Likely due to the unshakeable framerate, 4K resolution lenses, and high refresh rate, I somehow didn’t need any of them. I was able to use smooth movement (push the thumbstick to move), turn by just turning my body, and play while standing. The options are very granular, so you can mix and match. Out of habit, I found myself using snap turns and turning my body interchangeably, and I even tried playing while seated. It all works, and it seems like just about anyone should be able to find a comfort option that’ll allow them to travel to Batuu.
The soundtrack to Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge is fantastic, and I don’t need a whole paragraph to tell you about it. In fact I need just two words to describe why this game should win all the awards for music.
“Bear McCreary”. Enough said.
It’d be unfair to say that Bear should win all the awards though – there is a massive cast list of characters that turn in fantastic performances. Some voices you’ll know, some you might not, but saying too much could ruin the surprise. I’ll just say that Bobby Moynihan is fantastic as the bartender Seelelslak, Rhys Darby is very much Rhys Darby (though they call him IG-88 in the game), and Jim Cummings always steals the show as Hondo Ohnaka.
Given that it does say “Star Wars” on the virtual tin, you know the sound design is going to be impeccable, and the game doesn’t disappoint. Every sound could easily have been pulled from a movie, and for all I know, it very well may have been. I suspect the ILM folks have a little bit more access than the average dev might. The sound adds a level of authenticity that brings the whole thing to life.
VR and puzzles go together like peanut butter and jelly, and it’s no surprise to see them here. You have a multitool that’ll let you open compartments, a little arc welder, and a setting to perform repairs. You can scan objects as well – it’s fairly standard fare. In fact, the same could be said about the combat. Beyond the excellent haptics, it’s very straightforward. You can’t upgrade weapons, so once you find something else you like, or you run out of ammo, you’ll be dropping them on the ground. Similarly, your character has no level or progression mechanic, so you’ll see the gameplay arc pretty quickly – shoot, loot, scoot, rinse, repeat. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but temper your expectations – this isn’t an RPG.
The second half of the game is ostensibly the “Last Call” DLC that was released as a second installment of these “Tales”. What it also represents is a more focused narrative and lessons learned by the team since the base game was released. The game is now one combined piece, but you can almost feel the seam where it was welded together. While the quality of life upgrades of this second half have been peppered throughout the entire game now, there is still an obvious “opening” of the game world. The tone is also slightly different as well, and for the better. The nice part for PlayStation VR2 owners, however, is that they won’t have to wait – the whole 6-7 hour adventure lies at their fingertips.
Ultimately, Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition is precisely what I wanted it to be – a massive uplift to take advantage of my new headset. With haptics that have to be felt to be believed, visuals that match the fantastic voice work and storytelling, and a great new way to experience the fun and excitement of Batuu, it’s a must have for the PSVR2.
Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition
Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge takes full advantage of Sony’s PlayStation VR2, breathing new life into the game with updated visuals, awesome haptic feedback, and a story worth remembering.
- Massive visual upgrade
- Unshakeable frame and refresh rate
- Excellent audio across the board
- It’s virtual Star Wars done well
- One semi-cohesive product
- Combat is fairly by-the-numbers
- Puzzles aren’t exactly head scratchers