The Galaxy Is Expanding
Disney have revealed that all games from Lucasfilm will now fall under the branding of Lucasfilm Games. This rebranding was accompanied by the news that EA will no longer be the sole developer of Star Wars titles. While EA has provided us with some good Star Wars games during its eight-year exclusivity, many have assumed that Disney wouldn’t look to extend the deal beyond 2023. Instead, the assumption was that they would take the same approach as they have with Marvel Games, licencing out their properties to the best suited studios across the industry. With the announcement that Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment will be developing an open world Star Wars game, that seems to be the direction they are indeed taking.
With the potential for Star Wars projects to be developed by a wide range of studios, we may be looking at an influx of games that could shape the industry going forward. Where Star Wars differs from many intellectual properties is in its scope. Over the past forty-four years we have seen many sides to Star Wars, and it has inspired creators in many different ways. Even from EA’s limited releases we have had an action-adventure Metroidvania, a third-person online shooter, a space combat game and a turn-based RPG tactics game. Extrapolate this diversity out to the entire industry and the potential for Star Wars games is almost limitless.
Although EA may be losing their exclusivity, they have confirmed that they will continue to make games in the Star Wars universe. While we don’t have confirmation on what these games are, we can take some educated guesses. 2019’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was a fantastic game that delivered on a great story and some of the most authentic lightsaber mechanics seen. It is highly likely that developers Respawn Entertainment are working on a sequel given the commercial and critical success of the game.
Another franchise I fully expect EA to continue with is Star Wars Battlefront. Despite the rocky start Battlefront 2 had due to obnoxious micro transactions, the game built upon the foundation of the first entry and delivered some really fun Star Wars battles. Hopefully developers DICE, Motive and Criterion learnt from their mistakes and are working to deliver the most well-rounded entry yet. In a market now dominated by battle royales and team-based shooters, Battlefront could really capitalise on the Star Wars licence and makes the most intriguing option out there. I just hope they don’t forsake their lineage in order to make a Fortnite or Warzone clone.
The announcement that Lucasfilm Games is partnering with Ubisoft to create an open world Star Wars game is a particularly interesting one. Over the past generation Ubisoft and their studios have become synonymous with open worlds with titles such as Assassins Creed, Far Cry, Watch Dogs and The Division. It is in fact The Division 2 developers, Massive Entertainment, that are creating this Star Wars game. In the press release, the game is described as ‘a story-driven, open-world experience set within the Star Wars Galaxy’. Where this gets interesting is that The Division games that Massive have worked on, have been shared world shooters where players work to take on missions in a city environment. These missions can be tackled individually or as a team, but the team element is a key aspect. Will Massive Entertainment take a similar approach to their Star Wars game? Will the title be a singular open-world map or perhaps several as you travel to different planets? These are questions I can’t wait to find out the answers to.
The other big announcement coming out of Lucasfilm Games, is that they are partnering with Bethesda’s MachineGames to create a title based on Indiana Jones. The developers behind the Wolfenstein series certainly know how to deliver an action packed, narrative adventure however these games are typically in first person. It has yet to be confirmed if this Indiana Jones game will be first or third person, but I would be shocked if they don’t opt for a third person experience. Indiana Jones is one of the most recognisable characters in pop culture history and I expect MachineGames to want to capitalise on that look and have the character model visible at all times. Perhaps the biggest challenge facing MachineGames is in how they will differentiate their experience from that found in the Uncharted series. With Nathan Drake’s adventures taking so much inspiration from the Indiana Jones franchise, that series of games will now be the bench mark that MachineGames are working with. While the two characters are very much individuals, it will be interesting to see how the gameplay differs to allow Indiana Jones to shine in its own right.
Beyond these two announcements, and the promise of more games from EA, we currently don’t know what Lucasfilm Games has in store for us. With opportunities now opened up due to EA’s exclusivity coming to an end, I expect them to be in discussions with developers across the industry on a variety of projects. In an ideal world I hope these vary in scope and size from small Indie games right through to partnering with the biggest developers in the industry.
With that in mind here are three games I would love to see get developed.
2018’s Dead Cells offered a fantastic rogue-lite experience with great combat and interesting procedurally-generated levels. I would love to see Twin Motion take on the Star Wars franchise with the same approach. My vision sees them doing a game based around Darth Sidious putting his apprentices through trials. Each level could be a different environment with various enemy types. Throughout your playthrough you could unlock temporary and persistent upgrades much like with current roguelikes. With lightsabers being the main weapon, variety in styles could come in the form of different apprentices such as Darth Maul, Count Dooku or Darth Vader. Each character could act as a different class, offering unique moves and attributes. Players would take on these trials set by Sidious until they ultimately have to face the Sith lord as the game’s final boss encounter.
Podracing captured the imagination of everyone when Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace released back in 1999, but very few games have made the most of this exhilarating race. Arcade racers will always be popular amongst gamers and a podracing game could become a leading title in this genre. Ideally, I would love the developers of WipEout to make a podracing game however their studio, Psygnosis, is no longer around. Therefore, I think the perfect option would be to get Shin’en Multimedia to develop it. They developed the brilliant Fast RMX for the Nintendo Switch in 2017, which effectively was a homage to WipEout and F-Zero. Since then, they have gone on to develop another great game, all be it a different genre, with the Touryst. With their pedigree established I think now could be the perfect time to give them the Star Wars licence to make a podracing game we can all enjoy.
Star Wars is at its best when the story and the action seamlessly interweave. Within video games no developer achieves this better than Naughty Dog. With The Last of US Part II releasing in 2020 we now don’t know where the studio is heading next. Over the past decade they alternated between the Uncharted and The Last of Us series however I do not see another Uncharted game coming from them any time soon. Many expect their next project to be a brand-new IP that is separate from anything they have done before in the Uncharted and The Last of Us worlds. Lucasfilm Games would be wise to offer them any aspect of Star Wars they want and allow them to craft a truly AAA experience within that galaxy. Naughty Dog’s level of detail and craftmanship is astonishing and I can only imagine how incredible a Star Wars game from them would be.
Those are my picks but be sure to let me know yours in the comments below. With the doors of creativity now blown wide open I expect Lucasfilm game to become one of the most influential publishers and licensers in video games. Star Wars has recently had its big blow out in TV thanks to Disney+ and I believe this rebranding under Lucasfilm Games could signal the start of their dominance within video games too. Regardless, more Star Wars games is never a bad thing.