By Eric Tran
On May 6, 2013, Electronic Arts and Disney signed a ten-year deal to make Star Wars games. This gave EA exclusive rights to the franchise, while other companies are only allowed to make mobile or web-based games. Now, almost six years later EA has managed to publish a whopping total of three Star Wars games.
EA hasn’t been able to do much with the franchise and has only put out Star Wars: Battlefront I and II, a reboot of an older series from 2005, and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, a mobile game from Capital Games.
EA’s Battlefront I had potential, but it was held back by the absence of a single player campaign, its lack of content, and being attached with a $50 season pass. EA tried to rectify their mistakes with Battlefront II, by including a single player campaign and ditching the season pass. However, it was surrounded by controversy because of its microtransactions and pay-to-win model.
EA was working on another Star Wars title with Visceral Games, creators of the Dead Space series. The project was code-named “Ragtag”. Amy Hennig was directing the game and it was going to be a linear action-adventure game similar to the Uncharted series, which the first three games Hennig also directed. But, EA shut down Visceral Games in 2017 and handed over the title to EA Vancouver. This team rebooted the project, now code-named “Orca”, to a single-player open world game. However, it was canceled on January 15, 2019, in favor of a smaller-scale Star Wars project instead, according to Kotaku.
With EA putting out lackluster Star Wars games and continuing to reboot and cancel their projects, Respawn Entertainment might be their last hope.
Currently, Respawn, the studio behind Apex Legends and the Titanfall games is working on a new third-person action-adventure game called Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. The game is being directed by Stig Asmussen, developer of God of War III. A trailer was shown at a panel during Star Wars Celebration Chicago on April 13, 2019.
Jedi Fallen Order tells an original Star Wars story about a surviving Padawan, Cal Kestis, played by actor Cameron Monaghan, known for his roles on Shameless and Gotham. The game is set after the fall of the Jedi Order, in between Star Wars Episode III and IV. Cal is hiding from the Empire on a planet called Bracca. He’s trying his best not to get involved with the world around him and is working as a scrapper to get by. However, he finally does get involved and an Inquisitor (Force-sensitive agents working for the Empire) is on his trail and is trying to hunt him down.
Throughout the panel, the creators talked about working with Lucasfilm and Disney to create new planets like Bracca and introduce new characters. Cal will be accompanied by his best droid friend BD-1 and will meet a former Jedi Knight named Cere, who’ll become his mentor. She is played by actress and comedian Debra Wilson. Cal will encounter new enemies called Purge Troopers. They’re elite Imperial stormtroopers trained to combat Jedi, who are under the command of an Inquisitor named Second Sister. Both enemies have only appeared in comics.
The trailer showed no actual gameplay. However, it’s an “action melee” game that’ll be easy to play, while having a lot of depth. The creators explained it as “thoughtful combat,” meaning players will have to exploit enemy weaknesses by utilizing their lightsaber and Force powers. The game will also be running in Unreal Engine 4 instead of EA’s Frostbite Engine, which some developers have expressed difficulty working with, according to Kotaku.
But, the most important news to most fans, is that the game will be single-player only and will not have microtransactions or loot boxes. EA Star Wars twitter account and Respawn CEO Vince Zampella had confirmed this before and after the game’s reveal.
There’s a lot to be excited about the game. It’s lead by a talented team, with well-known actors, and Disney and Lucasfilm have had input on the project. Hopefully, a gameplay trailer will give a better scope of the game. With EA’s mismanagement of the franchise and mishaps on a lot of their recent titles, the return of good Star Wars games rests in the hands of Respawn Entertainment.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 15, 2019.