In the wake of the gargantuan E3 press conferences from the likes of Bethesda, Microsoft, Sony, and more, the EA Play 2018 press conference feels like it was years ago. That’s one of the most interesting things about E3 season — a few days ago, Respawn Entertainment announced details about their upcoming Star Wars title and, for all intents and purposes, the internet has moved on.
Sure, details were scant. Respawn’s Vince Zampella announced that the title of the new game will be Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and mentioned that the game will potentially be released sometime during 2019’s holiday season, but that’s about it. As the game was officially announced to be in production two years ago, it seems like EA could have offered fans the tiniest bit more information about it during the event, even if just to confirm that this game, you know, actually exists.
Respawn Entertainment’s Vince Zampella shares the first details on their title, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
(Video via Star Wars Expanded on YouTube)
That being said, it takes a long time to create a game, especially a game in the Star Wars universe, where you constantly need to get decisions approved by Disney and other corporate executives. Due to the general lack of information available for the title, and EA’s serious missteps with the Battlefront franchise just last year, all we can do right now is speculate on what kind of Star Wars title we can hope to see from EA and Respawn.
For me, Star Wars is at its absolute best when you’re simply immersed in its world — when the universe itself stops trying to remind you that you’re in the Star Wars universe. Never-ending lightsaber duels, unnecessary cameos, and shoehorning old characters into new scenarios makes the franchise feel like nothing more than endless fan service.
My favorite moments in contemporary Star Wars media, whether it was in the recent anthology films like Rogue One and Solo, or even EA’s Star Wars Battlefront franchise, are the quiet moments when you are simply allowed to exist in the Star Wars world. Walking around the dense forests of Kashykk in the original Star Wars Battlefront title did so much more for me than piloting the legendary Millennium Falcon. These smaller, more personal moments allow a chance for the franchise to immerse you in an area you knew existed, yet never were allowed to traverse on your own, rather than forcing forty years of nostalgia upon you.
For these reasons, I would like to see Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order be a game that doesn’t rest on the franchise’s laurels. As the game will take place in-between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, it would be more refreshing to see the game abandon any semblance of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, or Darth Vader in an attempt to build something new with the franchise; something less flashy and more intimate.
Think of all of the unsung background characters in the Star Wars franchise — the bartenders on Tatooine, the death-stick dealers trying to make a living, people that left Alderaan and witnessed a genocide take place against their home planet. Allowing these types of narratives, with Star Wars’ signature grittiness, would allow players to interact with the universe in an entirely new way. It would enable and allow fans of the franchise to have a new type of experience without an image of Luke Skywalker hanging over their heads, reminding them of the past.
The very little we know about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order seems to suggest that this might be the direction the game is heading. EA’s website for Respawn’s title writes that the title will be “a brand-new action adventure game which tells an original Star Wars™ story around a surviving Padawan set shortly after the events of Star Wars™: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith™.” This synopsis, as vague as it may be, affirms that the new game takes place after Anakin slaughtered all of the Padawans, and after Order 66 was enacted by Emperor Palpatine. This series of events, without a doubt the darkest plot line of any Star Wars film, allows the opportunity to tell a new story in the Star Wars timeline, and one with emotional gravitas.
Imagine this: you are one of the young Padawan’s targeted in the Order 66 purge. Unbeknownst to the Empire, you have survived the attack after watching all of your fellow Padawans die. Without any mentors left, you begin to traverse an open-world universe, visiting diverse planets in hopes of finding any surviving Jedi, friends, or loved ones.Simultaneously, in the background of these diverse environments, you start to notice an increasing Imperial presence forming in each city.
As time passes you notice more and more Storm Troopers starting to police areas; you notice the sheer brutality of the Empire’s methods. You see families get broken up, communities destroyed, and entire planets terrorized at the hands of Imperial forces. Your sorrow is no longer personal: you decide to travel around the universe, network with survivors, and drum up support for the Rebel Alliance. While a full scale rebellion is still years away, you can work with newfound allies to clear out Imperial factions throughout the galaxy and build up the Rebel infrastructure with their ashes.
This is just one idea, and admittedly, a half-baked one at that. However, think of the sheer volume of other ideas you can cook up when you stop focusing on the forty years of Star Wars lore. When you take a step back from the pre-established characters, locales, and plot-lines, you’ll realize there’s plenty of galaxy left exploring, and more importantly, plenty of interesting stories left to tell.
Perhaps Star Wars was once a nostalgic property, but it certainly isn’t anymore. As Disney is probably learning from the beating that Solo: A Star Wars Story is taking at the box office right now, the Star Wars name alone no longer has the unquestioned stopping power to drive folks to the movie theater, or to that point, their local game retailer. With any luck, EA and Respawn will pick up on this trend and craft a fresh experience that delivers on its promising setting within the world of Star Wars.