For the most part, the LEGO Star Wars franchise has stayed within the realm of adapting blockbuster movies. Many fans have played the LEGO Star Wars trilogies, whether it be the original or the prequels. They're also gearing up to revisit the whole Skywalker Saga in 2022. However, now it's time for LEGO Star Wars to branch out and it's doing so with a new game on Apple Arcade.
Released earlier this month, LEGO Star Wars: Castaways takes place on a mysterious planet somewhere in the galaxy. Players will venture through an uncharted island, meet new characters, battle across arenas, race Microfighters against other players, experience simulations of classic Star Wars moments, and learn more about this new setting. All of this will be done with a new custom LEGO Star Wars minifigure.
To learn more about what players can expect from LEGO Star Wars: Castaways, Shacknews spoke with Gameloft Montreal's Lee Kuburis and Jacques Durand. We asked about the timeline for Castaways, the social element, and more.
Shacknews: It's often fair to ask this of any Star Wars project these days, but during which era does Castaways take place?
Lee Kaburis, Gameloft Montreal Senior Producer: LEGO Star Wars: Castaways was designed with the intention to allow it to grow with the Star Wars universe. Indeed, the original narrative story doesn’t bind us to a specific Star Wars movie release and Star Wars content. With this in mind, the narrative setting allows players to revisit content of the past (with iconic Star Wars characters, vehicles, and locations). It also allows us to include any Star Wars content that could be coming out in the future.
Currently, only the original trilogy’s lore is covered in the game, but the scholars in the game (and us game developers) are working on adding more of the Star Wars universe to the game.
Shacknews: This game is described as the first "social, action-adventure LEGO Star Wars game." What exactly does that entail?
Jacques Durand, Gameloft Montreal Creative Director: This new LEGO Star Wars game is the first of its kind in that it encompasses a strong story narrative that allows the player to explore and discover new levels as they master the game while allowing players the option to do this solo or with other players online. In fact, this game was created with the social aspect as a main pillar of its intended experience. Twenty players can hang out in the same social hub, and players can play cooperative or competitive game modes with up to three of their friends! Of course, the Apple Game Center Friends API makes it easy to find your Game Center friends in the game.
Our Gameloft team strived to give players the opportunity to not only re-live iconic Star Wars moments as their own unique LEGO Star Wars Minifigure, but also experience a new story of discovery on an island of castaways, charting their own path in the variety of gameplay modes available to them.
Players can choose to do simulations, re-enacting iconic events in Star Wars history. They can also complete epic space battles, or they can battle in the Hippodrome arena, fighting other players, hordes, or iconic Star Wars enemies, or they choose to hang out in the social hub, communicating with other players through emotes, busting dance moves or playing fun mini-games!
Shacknews: What do we know about the Castaways characters? Who are they and what led them to this secret planet?
Durand: Well, truthfully, every player is a castaway! This game will surprise anyone used to the very story-driven, narrative Star Wars games that have come out thus far. It’s an open, non-linear game where you can express yourself and create your own unique castaway using LEGO bricks, crafting your own story within the Star Wars universe on Castaways Island, made entirely of LEGO Bricks. You will of course meet other castaways on this island. Some are other players, and some are Non-Playable Characters (NPCs). TU-TOR is one of the main NPCs you will meet. Indeed, she is a protocol droid left behind by the Ottegan, an ancient civilization that sought to know everything there is to know about the galaxy. Over time, though, the task was too much for TU-TOR alone, and corruption began to spread within the archives TU-TOR was left behind to care for.
Another main NPC in the social is Laurasta Vertoa, the keeper of the space battle simulations. She dreams of flying in space, so she uses data from the archive to create space simulations where she hones her flying skills and challenges the island’s castaways. Bossig the Hut, another main NPC, can be found near the Hippodrome. He also “borrows” data from the archives, but he uses it to create virtual arenas that allow him to watch entertaining battles between other castaways. Despite his less-than-altruistic motivations, Bossig creates completely new locations by way of his immense creativity.
Shacknews: What sorts of classic Star Wars moments can players experience in this game?
Kaburis: We currently only have the original trilogy integrated in-game, with more in the works. The sort of Star Wars moments we selected in collaboration with Lucasfilm were based on a few guidelines that we believed would provide players with the most immersive, memorable and engaging experience possible. We wanted to give players the opportunity to relive classic Star Wars moments as their own, unique characters via holographic simulations.
Level design was an important consideration when selecting these Star Wars moments as this type of design is central to the player’s immersion and engagement. As such, we particularly focused on the replayability factor of the event and location, the existence of physical LEGO toy sets that represent this event/location, and the variety of settings and backdrops within our selection (e.g., desert, spaceship, forest, etc.).
We selected the original trilogy as a place to start because of its broad appeal to young and not-so-young audiences. It’s been around for 40 years, and those 3 movies are often a point of entry for the Star Wars fanbase. Similarly, it is the Star Wars content that has been the most represented in LEGO toys.
Shacknews: How many customization options are available and can you give us a few examples of how we'll be able to customize our characters?
Durand: We currently have hundreds of different heads, legs, torsos, faces, and gear items, but even the contents of this list could change, so it’s difficult to give a specific answer to this question. As is true of LEGO core values of freedom of customization, anything you can do with a physical Minifigure, you can do the same in the game.
You can follow the rules of the Star Wars universe... Or you can break them. Classic Star Wars gear is available in the game, allowing players to cosplay their favorite Star Wars characters, creating new ones from the Dark Side or the Light... Or mixing it all together to create something never seen before in the Star Wars universe.
Shacknews: What kind of content do you have planned for Castaways after launch?
Kaburis: Although we developed LEGO Star Wars: Castaways for Apple Arcade, we kept the future in mind every step of the way. We see this game as a prime location to showcase Star Wars content, whether it’s from the past, the present or the many years to come. That being said, our focus in the next few months will be to build on the game’s strong foundations, such as enhancing existing progression systems with regular content updates, giving players new opportunities to grow and progress, and of course, building up re-engagement around key IP beats.