I love the Sith and the Jedi—space magic and laser swords have always been a winning combo. But I've also always wanted a more ground-level look at the Star Wars universe, especially in gaming. For example, the Imperial Agent storyline from BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic works so well precisely because it's more concerned with intergalactic politics and spy thriller nonsense over mystical force mumbo-jumbo.
I had a similar yearning when I played through Star Wars Jedi: Survivor recently. I was enamoured by its colourful side characters, to the point where moody Jedi fugitive Cal Kestis felt bland in comparison. Star Wars Outlaws is shaping up to fill that average-joe shaped hole in my heart, as a recent GameInformer interview with narrative director Navid Khavari suggests the game'll be far more concerned with the setting's grimy underbelly.
Firstly, scoundrel protagonist Kay isn't some destined-for-greatness force baby. "Kay’s dream is to land a score that will allow her to live life free and find her place in the galaxy," Khavari says, "This is especially true after a heist goes wrong, and she unexpectedly becomes one of the galaxy’s most wanted. By necessity, she’ll step into the underworld and take on jobs with criminal syndicates, with the aim to pull off one of the greatest heists the galaxy has seen."
Khavari also highlights Kay's negotiations with the galactic underworld as a key story element: "[dialogue options] will impact your experience throughout the game in specific ways, particularly with Kay’s reputation." He uses the game's Pykes syndicate as an example—play nice with these criminals, and you'll be justly rewarded with territory and cool missions. Screw them over, though, and they'll send their bounty hunters after you.
What really has me excited is how little Kay seems to care about the Empire—again, I love a stormtrooper, but bounty hunters, scoundrels, weird aliens—they're all so much more colourful and interesting. "[Kay] hasn’t yet really formed an opinion about the battle between the Empire and Rebellion … just like most people in the galaxy during this time period, she views [the Empire] as an oppressive force that’s spread throughout the galaxy. But they’re really just an obstacle in her way as she journeys through the underworld."
Granted, she might get more embroiled in their plans for domination as the story goes on, but I'm just happy they're not taking centre stage for the whole thing. Part of the reason the Empire works as an antagonist is because it's so sterilised and clean, while the rest of the galaxy's is dirty and colourful.
However, if the hero's always fretting over a secret temples at the edge of the galaxy, or hounding after a magical mcguffins, you rarely get to understand why that grime's worth protecting. I'm hoping Star Wars Outlaws, which is planned for release some time next year, is gonna change that for me.