It’s hard to believe but the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge areas in Disneyland in Anaheim and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando are two years old already. For every Star Wars fan dreaming of an immersive experience that puts them inside the mythology, the lands have fulfilled a lot of wish list moments, from walking through a Star Destroyer, to piloting the Millennium Falcon, to just boozing it up in an alien cantina.
But once you’ve done all of that, what’s next? If you’re a gamer, you go outside the boundaries of the Black Spire Outpost and into the wilds of Batuu. Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB opened the door to that reality in 2020 with Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge, an exclusive Meta Quest (formerly Oculus Quest) VR experience.
Since launch, the adventures have continued to expand with additional missions, most recently with the DLC Last Call. But not everyone has a VR machine just hanging around. If you’re VR curious, Meta Quest and ILMxLAB just opened a tech pop-up featuring a special preview of Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge that will run until Jan. 5, 2022, at the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif.
Paste recently made the trip to Anaheim to try out the experience, which is free to everyone via a walk-in appointment at the former theater. Inside, you can test the gear and the gameplay for yourself. A 10-minute appointment puts you in your own individual pod with a game facilitator who helps ease you into the Quest 2 headset and how to use the controls.
Once connected, you are ushered into Seezelslak’s Cantina, where you can talk to Seezelslak (as voiced by Star Wars super fan, Bobby Moynihan) or Droid Depot owner, Mubo (Matthew Wood). The environment is a good one to get acclimated to looking around in 360 degrees, as well as a non-stressful place to learn how to pick up items or move things within the virtual confines of the controls. You can meander inside the cantina or you can accept a mission that takes you into the virtual outside that expands the perimeter of Galaxy Edge’s settlement.
Once outside, you are encouraged to wander and look at the vistas which give you a bird’s eye view of Galaxy’s Edge. You can also scavenge weapons and supplies to help you when you encounter First Order Stormtroopers or rival bounty hunters. The process goes very fast, so unless you have previous experience with VR or this game in particular, you won’t get very far into the game. We were able to get acclimated with slinging our blaster out of our holsters and shooting some bad guys. But we didn’t get to see a lot of the expansive real estate that the game promises in its six hours of typical game play.
However, the technology was impressive and producer Alyssa Finley sat down with us after to explain the geography of the game. “When you go out into the wilds, there’s an overlook where you can see Galaxy’s Edge from the other direction. We really wanted to ground that you’re on Batuu, but you’re not in the Batuu you know [in the park]. Now, you get to explore.”
With the two parts of the VR experience available to purchase and play at home with Meta Quest equipment, Finley says they wanted to make sure the expansions included experiences that any Star Wars fan would have on their “to do” list.
“In the full game, you get to explore a piece of Jedi history where you go back in time in Batuu to the lost Jedi temple where, once upon a time, there was a very, very dangerous Sith relic. Master Yoda is there and we wanted to take you back in time into a full Jedi lightsaber experience,” Finley teases.
“And we really just wanted to play with asking what does evolution look like over time in the Star Wars universe?” Finley continues about their game goals. “How can we make you feel like you’ve been to a place where you’ve been the ultimate tourist because not only have you toured in space, but also in time?”
Asked if there will be new missions or experiences announced for 2022, Finley says not yet, but alluded to a lot more to come. “We really feel like these two [VR] parts make up a complete story and we’re really, really happy with offering that story. But we want people to feel like it’s a place they can go back to, so in terms of dreams, we have many.”
You can try Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge out yourself on Meta Quest 2, or now through Jan. 5 at Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort.
Tara Bennett is a Los Angeles-based writer covering film, television and pop culture for publications such as SFX Magazine, Total Film, SYFY Wire and more. She’s also written books on Sons of Anarchy, Outlander, Fringe and the official history of Marvel Studios coming in 2021. You can follow her on Twitter @TaraDBennett.