I love Star Wars. Call me a geek, a nerd, whatever you like, but I can’t help but get lost in the Star Wars universe. Ever since I saw the original Star Wars on my parents naff little 14” television (it didn’t even have a remote control) I have been fascinated by it. I remember being really excited when the ‘Special Editions’ of the original trilogy came out and going to see them in the cinema for the first time with my Girlfriend (now my wife) and my best mate. I’ve read some of the graphic novels, have a large Boba Fett painting in my study, and have played nearly every Star Wars game released since I got my first gaming console (an N64). I have found things to enjoy even in the movie prequels and am now enjoying sharing the Star Wars universe with my 5 year-old boy.
When Disney bought the mega-franchise I was so happy. George Lucas may have been the creator of the Star Wars universe, but he wasn’t the best custodian of the series. Disney would not only safeguard the series by adding new entries to the movie universe, but would develop the franchise in other mediums that Lucas wasn’t so adept at. That isn’t to say that all his efforts were poor, we have had some brilliant Star Wars games (I love The Force Unleashed, Rogue Squadron, Republic Commando, and Knights of the Old Republic), but when things had gone dormant on the game-front and 1313 got cancelled, the series needed help. Despite Disney having their own game studios at the time, they took the decision to put the license for Star Wars games up for tender. EA was the obvious choice as they have made their name scraping every single dollar that they can from a license (in the last 15 years we have had over 25 FIFA games).
In 2013 EA signed a 10-year exclusivity deal to produce Star Wars games. I thought this was great news, as finally we’d get a steady stream of games set in the galaxy far, far away. Fast forward four years and only one barebones release has seen the light of day. 2015’s Star Wars: Battlefront did a great job of recreating the locations and feel of being in a Star Wars movie. My issue with the game was that it was rushed out to try and tie-in with the release of Episode VII. It was a multiplayer only title with a minimal number of maps to play at launch. You would be able to get more maps but you’d have to pay for them. What’s more the season pass was among the most expensive ever announced, it was almost the same price as the full game itself. It’s a shame really as DICE did a great job of crafting a Battlefield-style game in the Star Wars universe. EA’s rush to get it out meant the gameplay wasn’t as deep as it could have been and content was severely lacking.
This year we will be getting another Battlefront title that will no doubt be scheduled to tie-in with the release of Episode VIII in cinemas. The new game is confirmed to have some sort of singleplayer campaign but how much we just don’t know. We also know that there are another two Star Wars games in development. Visceral Games, best known for the Dead Space series, are working with Amy Hennig on a third person action-adventure game that is tentatively scheduled for release in 2018. The other game that we know is in development is from Respawn Entertainment, the creators of Titanfall. This game we know nothing about other than it is in development so is likely to be even further out.
All of this means that EA will probably only release 3 Star Wars games in the first half of their exclusivity deal. This is surely somewhat of a limp return on what must have cost the company a large chunk of change. The other area of concern for me is that there is a distinct lack of variety and creativity in these games. Star Wars: Battlefront is a Battlefield game with a Star Wars facelift and the sequel will no doubt be the same. The Star Wars game coming from Visceral will add some variety but will no doubt have a strong emphasis on combat. If Respawn’s track record is anything to go by, their Star Wars title will be very similar to Star Wars: Battlefront. I find this a shame, as there is so much more that they could do with the Star Wars license. I loved the Rogue Squadron games; why not resurrect that series or something similar. I’d even be happy with a remaster of the Episode 1 pod racing game that was a lot of fun. How about a new Knights of the Old Republic game, or even a console port of Star Wars: The Old Republic? There is so much that EA could do but they don’t seem interested.
Star Wars is a treasured license to so many people that it deserves to be treated right. I don’t want a splurge of bland licensed games that we would have expected from someone like Activision, but I do expect them to actually make use of the license. The Star Wars universe is huge and sprawling, there are so many things that they could do within the franchise. Please EA, give us more Star Wars and more experiences in our favourite galaxy, far, far away.