We Spoke To Star Wars Outlaws’ Creative Director About Crafting An Open-World Scoundrel Adventure

The outer wild west.

After the initial reveal for Star Wars Outlaws at last year’s Ubisoft Forward, I got to speak with Massive Entertainment’s Julian Gerighty, the man tasked with helming the game’s creative direction. With a clear passion for Star Wars, we spoke about how they’d bring this particular scoundrel tale to life. 

With another year of teases and reveals, and after having some time of our own on the sticks, we were fortunate to speak with Julian once again about Star Wars Outlaws as the team races at lightspeed towards its August release date. 

There’s obviously a preconception as to what makes up a “Ubisoft game.” As Star Wars Outlaws doesn’t seem to adhere to that model, was that a focus to differentiate the game from the pack?

JG: Not really, you’ve got to keep in mind that this is a Massive game and it’s from the team that did The Division, The Division 2, and so it’s already very different to the usual Ubisoft formula. 

I think we have to be conscious of it, but there was no point where we said: “Let’s be the anti-Ubisoft game.” It’s more that this is the game that makes sense for this scoundrel open-world adventure we’re creating. 

What struck me is that parts of Outlaws feels like a space-western, especially with Kay’s Dead Eye ability—I didn’t catch what it was called. Can we expect straight up duels? 

JG: I call it Dead Eye too, so you’re not alone. It’s called the Adrenaline Shot or something.

There aren’t duels, but there are scripted situations where you’ll be in stand-off situations but it’s not in the way you’re hoping, it’s not systemic to the game. 

On the combat, how can we expect that to evolve throughout? I got the sense that your blaster is your only friend and that you upgrade it rather than broaden your arsenal? 

JG: One hundred percent. There are different modules to the blaster that allow it to be an all-in-one. You know, it’s stun, charge, it has explosions. Changing the module will obviously change the impact type of your blaster, but you can also pick up weapons from fallen enemies, whether you send out Nix or collect them yourself. 

It creates these moments of opportunity where you’ll find something and you try and use it and once it’s spent you go back to relying on your blaster again. 

And clearly if she’s close enough Kay can throw hands as well. How deep is that system, is it similar and you’re able to grab stun rods and things like that? 

JG: Yeah, that’s in the video that you’ll soon discover. 

Do you feel that Star Wars Outlaws can be approached without a working knowledge of the franchise? 

JG: One hundred percent. I think the only prerequisites are that you’re attracted to open world agency and science-fiction. Taking a space ship and going into the stars, into orbit and hyper jumping. 

If that doesn’t completely turn you away, this is a great scoundrel, outlaw adventure that isn’t exclusively Star Wars but is very faithful to Star Wars at the same time. 

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If someone wanted to get up to speed with where Kay is placed in it all, what would you say is the required reading? 

JG: It’s not even Kay’s story, it’s more about the context. And that context is the original trilogy, it’s obviously set in between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, it’s that one year period between those movies where the Empire has just slaughtered the Rebels at Hoth. There’s this power struggle within the galaxy with the Empire gaining more power, more reach, leaving the criminal syndicates to fill the blanks and take advantage of the chaos. 

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So that’s the context, and it’s the perfect context for this outlaw story. It’s about someone who’s going to weave their way through the different syndicates, that’s the story we’re wanting to tell. 

When it comes to progression through the world itself, do the blaster upgrades serve to open up gated areas much like a Metroidvania? 

JG: Yes, they do! I don’t think we’re showing any of it here but there are upgrades for your blaster and your speeder that allow you to grow access.

Metroidvania is exactly what we were going for to encourage you to revisit planets and different locations to uncover all of their secrets.  

How pivotal to the core experience is the reputation system and how radically can it change your playthrough?

JG: I think, for me, the conception behind it was that even within a linear story having this very personal relationship with each one of the factions creates something where it gives you agency of deciding who you want to side with. 

Many of the quests, almost all of the quests, have a dilemma. Do I steal the information and give it to the Pikes, or to the Hutts? Doing that will increase your reputation, it will gain you access into forbidden strongholds and vendors, even more missions and contracts. That’s if you’ve got a good relationship with them, if not they’ll send people after you to keep you from these strongholds and so forth. So it changes plenty of things—your access, your equipment, your loadout, and your approach to different problems you’re going to face in the game. 

Say my reputation with the Crimson Dawn is in the toilet, is there content that I’ll miss? 

JG: Totally. There’ll be outfits, there’ll be charms, and there’ll be upgrades for your character that you can miss. 

Is there a way to double back and revisit some of that stuff? 

JG: Of course, even post-credits you’ll be able to experience the open world and you can play around with that reputation system. 

Being one of two modern Star Wars video game franchises out there, did you learn anything from Respawn to inform what you’ve done with Outlaws? 

JG: I think it’s just admiration for what they’ve done, right? I think they’re one of the best teams in the world and while I can’t say that we took anything from them, they deliver a different player fantasy, there’s definitely just huge admiration. I played all of those games, front to back. 

There’s part of the chronically online crowd online who have had quite a reaction to Outlaws and to Kay in particular. Has there been a need for the team to throw their arms around Humberly? 

JG: I don’t think so, I think everybody is going to have an opinion. That’s super fine. This game was made with a huge amount of love and passion for the original material. 

There are hundreds and hundreds of people working on the experience and I think we’ve delivered a very authentic Star Wars adventure with truly relatable characters, situations, and beautiful recreations of the world. 

So the biggest critics are ourselves and I kind of love what we’re doing so I’m happy with the way it’s going. 

You can read our hands-on preview of Star Wars Outlaws right here.


Brodie was a guest of Ubisoft with travel and accommodation covered for the purpose of this interview.