The lack of space battles in Star Wars: Battlefront caused a lot of discussion among the community, that would of course love to pilot the iconic Star Wars starfighters in epic battles in the dark depths of space.
But the origibal Star Wars: Battlefront games weren’t the best way to pilot an iconic X-Wing or a TIE Fighter. Veteran gamers (or those who like to purchase oldies but goldies on GoG.com) know that the best Star Wars starfighter experience came much earlier, with the X-Wing series on PC.
With games like X-Wing in 1993 and TIE Fighter in 1994 the X-Wing series by Totally Games and LucasArts provided the thrill of piloting the iconic fighters in the best way possible, as a space simulator (even if the “simulator” term is used in a rather loose way, of course).
Back then, the times were different. Space sims were at the apex of their glory thanks to legendary series like Wing Commander and Elite, and the popularity of flight simulators meant that many gamers had a joystick sitting close to their keyboard.
Since then, publishers have lost faith in the genre, and pretty much abandoned it, like they discarded flight simulators in favor of easier and simpler, more action-oriented experiences.
But now it could be the right time to pull those days of glory out of the closet. Wing Commander‘s Chris Roberts is back, and his Star Citizen gathered nearly 80 million dollars in crowdfunding. Elite is also back with Elite: Dangerous, and the success of those projects demonstrates that the thirst for the return of space sims is real and tangible among gamers.
The reason is simple: space sims are one of the most immersive ways to experience science fiction, right from the cockpit of a fascinating space ship. There are very few sci-fi fantasies as strongly rooted among fans than the one of the starfighter pilot. They also tend to be more intuitive and less complicated than realistic flight simulators.
And that’s the same among Star Wars fans. Of course the Jedi vs Sith fantasy is the most popular, but right behind it, the X-Wing pilot fantasy is dear to an enormous number of fans. Some could argue that the smuggler fantasy might be equally or more popular, but that’s very debatable, and even Han Solo would be diminished without his iconic Millenium Falcon.
The lack of popularity of the joystick as a peripheral is also pretty much irrelevant nowadays. Console-like controllers are extremely widespread, even among PC gamers, and they offer a degree of control on flight that easily rivals a joystick. It’s not surprising that controllers are among the most popular choice for Star Citizen fans.
While it’s a pity that Star Wars: Battlefront does not include space battles, Electronic Arts has the chance to do them justice in a much better way: a new series of X-Wing/TIE Fighter games for current generation platforms would fit perfectly in today’s market, and would provide a more focused and solid experience to the fans of the Star Wars IP that harbor the dream of emulating Luke Skywalker as Red Five.
Add to it an engrossing narrative-driven single player campaign, and a few of interesting multiplayer modes to blast each other among stars and asteroids, and you could basically cook up a real dream for many Star Wars fans.
As a matter of fact, the lack of space battles in Battlefront could even be a sign that a space sim project actually already exists, even if I couldn’t find a single blip on the radar about that (and believe me, I looked).
It would make perfect sense even commercially. Electronic Arts, like most large publishers, loves to create and establish franchises, and the rich collection of space crafts offered by the Star Wars universe is spot-on for that. Start with X-Wing, then move on with TIE Fighter a couple years later, and then continue on that track (maybe also exploring different eras in the time line) for many years to come.
Space simulators are coming back under the spotlight, and now it’s the perfect time for Electronic Arts to jump on the bandwagon. They committed the grievous sin of abandoning the Wing Commander franchise, and looking at the success of Star Citizen I can easily imagine that quite a few executives are munching on their nails in chagrin right now. Bringing back the Star Wars starfighter experience would be the perfect way to atone.
And now that I said my piece, I’ll leave you with a slightly heretical but absolutely tasty treat by YouTube user OtaKing77077. Watch and dream.