Not too long ago in this galaxy quite close by, the exclusive license for Star Wars games was finally taken away from EA to the distant sounds of thunderous applause. Finally, we don’t have to deal with EA’s patented ‘Pay-to-play’ methods any longer as Lucasfilm Games is now working with a whole host of studios, both new and returning, for its upcoming slate of titles.
So far, the only Star Wars games being offered for fans have been strictly catering to the traditional gamer demographic, with the tumultuous Star Wars Battlefront series and very well-received soulslike, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Now, like the mighty Thanos collecting Infinity Stones, LucasFilm Games is trying to consolidate their brand for true mass-market appeal. Each studio lucky enough to catch Disney’s eye is a master in their chosen genre, with one or two exceptions, but don’t you worry, we’ll get to those in due time.
New Star Wars Games on the Horizon
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Switch Port
Even amongst such illustrious company as GTA IV, Fallout 3, and Call of Duty: World at War, 2008’s Star Wars: The Force Unleashed stood out. It was a game like no other that even its direct sequel two years later failed to replicate. The power fantasy is now heading for the world of handheld gaming with a new port for the Nintendo Switch.
You play as Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, Galen Marek, as he hunts down the remaining Jedi Masters across the galaxy. Known as Starkiller, which is arguably the best nickname in the franchise, he represents the unlimited power of the force, going far beyond the limits presented in the movies. All the classic force powers are at your disposal; telekinesis, mind tricks, and lightsaber combat; plus some devastating new Sith powers like force lightning that lets you live out your hidden Emperor Palpatine fantasies.
The Force Unleashed was released for the Nintendo Switch today, April 20th, and features both button and motion controls as well as a local 1v1 Duel Mode that allows you to battle your friends and family as 27 different iconic Star Wars characters.
Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic Remake
While The Force Unleashed is simply a remastered port for newer, handheld hardware, the second re-release on our list, Knights of the Old Republic, is a completed remake from the ground up 20 years after the original game from Bioware.
If recent leaks are to be believed, the new version for PS5 and PC will move towards a more action-focused style of combat, influenced by the recent success of God of War, and away from its original Dungeons & Dragons inspired dice roll mechanics that operated similar to the action queue from The Sims. However, it does seem the story will remain largely unchanged from Bioware’s original vision.
No release date for this one yet, but you’d best believe I’ll tell you the very minute it gets announced.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order 2
The first of three games from EA-owned studio, Respawn Entertainment, is the highly anticipated follow-up to their breakout success with 2019’s Fallen Order. The soulslike borrowed heavily from the playbook of Dark Souls’ developer FromSoftware, with bonfire-esque meditation spots that respawn enemies after saving your progress and a combat system focused on dodging and parrying.
Personally, I found the combat system to be lacking. The presence of health bars for enemies meant you needed multiple hits just to down Troopers, which made the lightsabers feel more like a baseball bat than a laser sword, so I hope this is something the sequel improves upon.
It seems likely to assume the game will be released around the same time as The Mandalorian season 3, so expect some kind of announcement on May 4th’s Star Wars Day in two weeks time.
Respawn’s Untitled FPS
The second offering from Respawn is far more inside their wheelhouse. The Apex Legends developer is well-versed in both first-person shooters and Star Wars games, so it’s no surprise they were chosen for the next game in EA’s mission to dominate the FPS market.
Work has only just begun on this title so details are hazy, but we do know that the untitled game is being overseen by Peter Hirshmann, the genius behind the Force Unleashed, Battlefront, and Lego Star Wars franchises. He’s been involved with both LucasFilm Games and EA for decades, working on Star Wars games, Indiana Jones games and even writing for several of the Medal of Honor games, so it’s safe to say this one seems in good hands.
Bit Reactor’s Untitled Strategy
The last of the Star Wars games from EA is a departure from their usual titles. Respawn is back again, but this time they’re collaborating with Bit Reactor, a new studio from former XCOM art director, Greg Foerstch. Though a brand-new studio may be an unknown quantity, the team of veteran games developers have a well-proven track record with strategy games. Several members of the team previously led strategy stalwart Firaxis Games, the powerhouse studio behind Sid Meier’s Civilization series and the previously mentioned XCOM, whilst others were instrumental in delivering Elder Scrolls Online.
Sadly for me, those are all the details we have at present but we do know that developer Bit Reactor believes that turn-based gaming is long overdue for an overhaul. Speaking in a recent press release, Greg said:
“As game genres of all-types see refreshed takes in this new generation of technology, one thing is clear in that turn-based tactic games have been greatly overlooked and have an enormous amount of room for innovation. We have a very team-oriented culture and we’ve assembled an amazing group of talented, experienced and dedicated game developers to inject rich storytelling, immersive presentation and rock solid game mechanics to give this genre its rightful time to shine – a golden age of turn-based games is upon us.”
I’m a huge fan of turn-based games as they allow me to take the time I need to fully process the things happening around me before choosing an action. It’s really exciting to know that we’re finally about to see some innovating in this space.
Skydance New Media’s Untitled Project
This narrative-driven, action-adventure game with an original story from the mind behind the Uncharted series, Amy Hennig, was only announced earlier today so there’s very little information to be found. Skydance New Media has also been selected by Disney to create an all-new Marvel game with a similar concept, so announcements for this game may provide a clue into what we might expect from this one.
Amy co-founded Skydance in 2019 after the cancellation of her previous Star Wars project at EA’s Visceral Games and has also previously worked for The Last of Us and Uncharted developer, Naughty Dog. Her co-founder Julian Beak is a veteran developer from EA whose work includes 2015’s Need for Speed and Battlefield: Hardline.
Ubisoft’s Untitled Open World
Ubisoft continues to reinvent the wheel with yet another open-world, story-driven sandbox, only this time it’s for Star Wars games so I don’t mind as much. This one’s being developed by Swedish Ubisoft studio, Massive Entertainment, who are known for the Tom Clancy’s The Division series. They’re also currently developing another Disney property with Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora alongside although the concurrent projects are not expected to impact one another’s development.
Though we don’t have any official details about gameplay, release dates or platforms, it’s a Ubisoft game so it’s very likely to be sparse maps filled with busywork, on as many platforms as possible and developed as quickly as possible under dreadfully abusive crunch conditions. But hey, a Star Wars game with Assassin’s Creed’s parkour mechanics is going to make a lot of money for everyone involved so who cares about the employees’ right?
Star Wars: Eclipse
Star Wars: Eclipse is the game universe’s first venture into the new High Republic era of the timeline. This period sits between the times of the Old Republic, when the Jedi and Sith were of equal power in the galaxy, and the Fall of The Jedi, which is the official name for the prequel era.
Over the last few years, there have been numerous allegations against the French developer, Quantic Dream, for fostering a toxic and unsafe working environment for its developers. Founder & Co-CEO, David Cage, is notorious for inserting his own personal views into his games, which is pretty bad for choice-driven, multi-perspective, narrative-based storytelling. Along with the company’s other CEO, Guillaume de Fondaumière, he’s been accused by former employees of inappropriate behavior, exploiting staff, and promoting a culture of misogyny and racism in the office. Thanks to this awful backdrop, Quantic Dream is struggling to fill its large number of vacancies, leaving Eclipse with a projected launch date somewhere in 2027.
Though a trailer for the game was revealed at The 2021 Game Awards, little is known about the story besides it being set in the outer rim. The story will likely be a traditional David Cage affair full of pretentious melodrama, cliche narratives that are usually stolen from pop culture and constant plot holes the size of the Grand Canyon. Not to be beaten, the gameplay will likely be just as bad, flitting wildly from overblown cinematic quick-time events to laboriously slow exploration sections that are; as described by The Escapist’s potty-mouthed reviewer Yahtzee Croshaw, “mired with gameplay akin to trying to watch a movie, while fighting to get the remote away from an over-excited dog.”
This one’s a tough one for me. It’s more Star Wars content with a choices-matter gameplay style that I usually like. But then again, it’s a David Cage game…
Star Wars: Hunters
The final entry in our list of upcoming Star Wars games comes from notorious scammers and mobile gaming developer, Zynga. If the name sounds familiar, they’re the studio behind FarmVille, Words With Friends, Zynga Poker and Merge Dragons. This company loves to fill its games with predatory ads aimed at taking as much of your money as possible, and that’s not coming from me, just listen to CEO Mark Pincus when he said: “I did every horrible thing in the book just to get revenues right away.”
Their turn at the production table brings us a competitive, third-person, hero shooter that battles teams of 4 players against each other in real time in an arena as various characters from across the Star Wars universe. The team also recently announced that this game would bring the return of Huttball, the football minigame first introduced in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Star Wars: Hunters has a release date sometime later this year for crossplay on both mobile devices and Nintendo Switch. If this game sounds like your cup of tea, and you don’t mind wrangling with all the ads, you can already register for some exclusive in-game content ahead of the launch day.