In Star Wars Outlaws, I escaped an Imperial space station, swiped a relic, and fell in love with Kay and Nix's teamwork

Star Wars Outlaws
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Nothing spells fantasy to me quite like stepping into the Star Wars universe as someone who lives by their own rules, and that's precisely why I couldn't wait to dive right into Star Wars Outlaws. Rather than a Jedi, or a big bad Sith, protagonist Kay Vess is a lone street thief without any fantastical magic or Force powers behind her. But even if she's not some powerful figure in a galaxy far, far away, she has some tricks up her sleeve which I get to try out first-hand, and they quickly sell me on the scoundrel fantasy Massive is trying to deliver. During my time with the open-world adventure, I was able to try out three different missions that all offer up a different bite-sized taste of Kay's journey in the Outer Rim. From a more stealth-oriented objective, to a mission that sees me solve puzzles and climb up a reactor, I also get the chance to blast my way out of an Imperial base and engage in a dogfight among the stars. 

Time and again, though, what I enjoy most is the companionship and teamwork of Kay and her best merqaal buddy, Nix. Throughout every mission, I'm making use of the little guy to distract enemies, open doors, fetch items, set explosive traps, or latch onto a droid so I can get some shots in before it even sees me coming. From speaking with creative director Julian Gerighty, it's clear that the pair were always intended to be a packaged deal, allowing Kay to believably and practically gain advantages in dicey situations when she doesn't have extraordinary powers to rely on. 

"So we actually see [Kay and Nix] as one character, in a way, in terms of pure gameplay," Gerighty says in an interview with GamesRadar+. "It's allowing Kay to do incredible stuff without giving her the force or powers or magic. It's like an extra long third arm where she can distract people. She can make a smoke canister explode. She can sabotage something from a distance, but it feels grounded because it's her best buddy." 


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Star Wars Outlaws

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

My introduction to Kay and Nix's adventure begins with a mission in a seemingly abandoned reactor. I have to restore power and access some coordinates, but a series of puzzles and climbing sections lie between me and my objective. From climbing up grated walls to jumping up to ledges, it has some Assassin's Creed flavor to it at times, but it also brings to mind the time I recently spent as Cal Kestis in Star Wars Jedi Survivor. Kay proves to be a nimble climber and it feels great to control, not unlike Respawn's Jedi. But where Cal has the Force to move and manipulate objects and obstacles, Kay has her blaster gun and Nix to find solutions. 

As part of the scoundrel fantasy Massive is trying to bring to life, the blaster gun feels like the perfect weapon of choice for Kay, and it has some neat features that that give more uses than just simply shooting up the place. With the ability to switch between a few different module settings on the gun, one channels an electric-like blast that's effective against enemy shields. Outside of combat, the blaster is also used in puzzles, with shots charging up generators to open up doors blocking my path. Nix also has a part to play, since the little creature can use an eagle vision-like ability that highlights the location of both nearby enemies and interactable objects that you may need to find to clear obstacles. 

While you can actually pick up other guns that enemies drop and make use of them in a fight for a time, the different modules settings are part of Massive's efforts to make the blaster feel personal to Kay as her permanent weapon - it's something she can't be without given its practical uses: "The modules instead of like picking up different guns [and keeping them], it [the blaster] remains something that's personal to you," Gerighty says. "It remains something that's iconic to Kay, it's got a little Nix engraving on it, it goes into a lot of the detail there". 


Star Wars Outlaws

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

My favorite blaster ability comes into play towards the end of the second mission, which initially lets me lean into the stealthy side of Star Wars Outlaws. Tasked with stealing a relic, I first have to get my hands on a room access card to disable a barrier. The trouble is, the card is slap bang in the middle of a base full of enemies belonging to a particular crime syndicate. Adopting a crouched position, I send out commands to Nix to draw the eye of patrolling guards so I can get by unnoticed. With so many enemies on the ground floor of the base where my objective is, sneaking requires a mixture of patience and Nix's ability to scan the area - which is often a lifeline. 

I successfully perform some stealth takedowns of unsuspecting foes, and try out a lockpicking mini-game that requires you to replicate the rhythmic pattern of a lock node. It takes some practice before I successfully master it, but it definitely feels a little different to the likes of other minigames of this ilk. Once I manage to send Nix to fetch the card, I make my way back up to the relic and swipe it and that's when all hell breaks loose. My swift exit draws the ire of a lot of enemies, and I'm soon right in the middle of a dangerous gunfight. Fortunately for me, a blaster ability is ready to go that proves invaluable in situations like this, and it's easily my favorite move. Not unlike Red Dead Redemption's Dead Eye, this ability lets me mark several enemies and hit them with lethal shots in quick succession. 

Once my task is complete and I'm out of the base unscathed, I notice my reputation has gone up and down with two different factions based on my successful theft, and I'm curious to know what the impact of this will actually be in the long run. Reputation is a big part of Kay's experience, and as Gerighty explains, Star Wars Outlaws is a linear campaign in an open-world setting, but the freedom we have as an outlaw "is represented with the story that you're going to craft with your decisions with the different factions."  

Star Wars Outlaws

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

"The reputation system really serves as a progression system, but also a narrative system for you to tell a story that's unique to your decisions"

Julian Gerighty, creative director

"The reputation system really serves as a progression system, but also a narrative system for you to tell a story that's unique to your decisions," Gerighty says, "and almost all of the quests have a dilemma, a choice that you're going to have to make. Do you steal the data for the Pikes, or do you give the data to the Crimson dawn? One will damage the other, right? So one increases, the other one is damaged, and the higher your reputation gets, the better relationship you have, of course, but the more access you'll have. So there are parts of the cities that are blocked off to you unless you're affiliated with the Hutt [for example]. There are vendors that are blocked off to you unless you have a great reputation with the Hutt."

"There's these storerooms and vaults that you can only access in an easier fashion if you've got good reputation," Gerighty continues. "There are even quests and contracts that are locked behind reputation. Some of the best vanity and gear effects are locked behind excellent reputation. On the other hand, if you have a terrible reputation, they're going to send people after you. So it's spinning plates within this sort of a linear campaign where you're going to want to try and get an excellent reputation, to get those really tangible rewards, really exciting rewards." 

I see out my time with Star Wars Outlaws by blasting my way out of an Imperial base that's full of Stormtroopers that just don't stop coming, which is obviously my que to exit in lightspeed fashion on a ship. Soon I'm in control of said ship and have to speed my way over to a debris field (which feels like a nod to Han Solo's tactic in Empire Strikes Back). With Tie fighters in hot pursuit, there's nothing else for it but to engage in some dog fighting until I can lose them for good. 

Star Wars Outlaws certainly seems ambitious from what I've seen so far, and as a longtime Star Wars fan, it's a joy to soak in the details and keep an eye out for Easter eggs that bring me right into this period of the Star Wars timeline. I didn't get to ride on the Speeder much before my session came to a close, or experience much of the open-world, but I'm eager to see more of this setting when it arrives later this year. One thing's for sure: I'm already a fan of Kay and Nix's partnership in and out of combat. 

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.